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Monday, December 12 from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Strategic Plan Presentation

Presentation of the new Strategic Plan for the Downtown White Plains Transit District. Celebrate the hard work done to improve the City’s future. This public meeting will be located in The Reckson Building at 360 Hamilton Avenue.


31 Mamaroneck Avenue, (914) 428-4220, artswestchester.org

Now – Saturday, January 14

http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001RNYh4Vf454BsVHBdv7maiYtOCDOE-PjNm3ZKdAxJ5d7dqVCxqP1POu8_xxhGiFCJJMSXXGysDSMauJNzRtbx-72CBnX4YIaOW8MmqtnhkYyzgXaAjOnR4k9_e0WZuOfpKaGLk7-ZAwFnq5F8e_tIQeHqZ7fHGie_suHLXirulk0HXVNkMGUqYsVimh-v80JpAwWBdWuYvtlzVMxCqSiUA1-xUwqJeCdvjvv0m9xga-8=&c=wqIGB_mn8lU_KNByrL-9s83E_qRcYV37kZeNlWhWpGTPd-nHyuXy2w==&ch=7bj2Y_S2FuT-C9F7oC3_J0VzpGVqj7MdjmRZP7PexTvshmzCW4B0Ew== REMEDY, an Exhibition
“Remedy” explores the many ways humankind attempts to ameliorate society’s modern ailments (mental, physical, and beyond) through art. Working across media, the contributing artists engage with the tools, institutions, and methods of healing, as well as the role artists and art can play in the process of personal and collective healing. Gallery hours are noon to 5 pm. Learn more.
City Center, 230 Main Street, (914) 397-2420, stores.barnesandnoble.com/store/2202
Friday, December 2 at 7 pm

The Polar Express Pajama Storytime

Come in your PJs and join Barnes & amp; Noble for a magical evening as they host their annual Polar Express Storytime. Coloring and activities to follow, including writing a Dear Santa letter.

Saturday, December 3 at 11 am

How the Grinch Stole Christmas Storytime

Celebrate all things Grinch with a reading of the classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Barnes & Noble will have good deed badges and tracking booklets for kids to log all the good things they do this holiday season. Activities to follow.

Saturday, December 3 at 12:30 pm, and Sunday, December 4 at 12:30 pm

Photos With Santa Claus

Join Barnes & Noble for an afternoon of holiday festivities including photos with Santa Claus, Storytime and activities with Santa’s Elves and face painting.


Saturday, December 3 at 10 am

Educator Holiday Shopping

Pre-K through 12 educators are invited to a special holiday shopping event. Educators will receive a 25% discount on books, toys, games, movies, music and more. Plus, 10% off Café consumables and select NOOK® devices.

175 East Post Road, (914) 644-8191, beadeverything.com
Wednesday, November 30 from 6 pm – 8 pm

Ladies Night

Join Bead Everything for their Ladies Night. Every second and fourth Wednesday night, stop by and bead, chat, snack, and shop with friends. Ladies Night is free to attend, just call ahead to let them know you’re going.

Bead Everything offers classes for every skill level. Call (914) 644-8191 to register and pre-pay.


Thursday, December 1 at 10 am
Introductory Class: Wire Wrapping

Friday, December 2 at 11 am

Unwinding Beauty
Saturday, December 3 at 10 am
Introductory Class: Stringing
Saturday, December 3 at 10:30 am
Poinsetia Bracelet and Earrings Set
Sunday, December 4 at 11 am
Swarovski Heart
Saturday, December 3 from 2 pm – 6 pm

Free Holiday Cookie Decorating

Celebrate the season at City Center 15: Cinema de Lux at their free holiday cookie decorating event.




7-11 South Broadway, (914) 723-4900

Now – Friday, December 9

Spread The Warmth Annual Coat Drive

Donate a gently used or new coat to those in need. Drop off coats in Forme Urgent Care’s waiting area.

33 Church Street, (914) 949-0384, www.DTMusic.orgNoonday Concerts at Grace Church
30 minute concerts, Wednesdays at 12:10 pm. Free admission, donations are greatly appreciated.


8 Church Street, (914) 948-3281, www.laboccaristorante.com

ornaments_in_a_row.jpgThursday, December 1 from
6:30 pm – 10 pm

Holiday Botique

Moms of White Plains presents their 1st Annual Holiday Botique at La Bocca Ristorante. Great vendors, raffles, wine, appetizers from the chef, and more.

VINO 100

171 Mamaroneck Avenue, (914) 949-8466, www.vino100whiteplains.com

Saturday, December 3 from noon – 5 pm

11th Annual Grand Tasting

Join Vino 100 for their biggest event of the year. Dozens of open bottles, food, and a great time. Free and no RSVP needed.

100 Martine Avenue, (914) 422-1400, whiteplainslibrary.org


Wednesdays, from 12:15 pm – 1 pm

Lunchtime Meditation

A weekly Meditation program at the library. No registration or equipment necessary. Starts promptly at 12:15pm with the first few minutes devoted to beginning instruction.

Dinin’, dancin’, and just plain fun…

84 Mamaroneck Avenue
(914) 506-5900

Tuesday, November 29 at 6:30 pm

Elizabeth Park Masterpiece

Create more detailed art in a smaller class size. Learn more and sign up.

30 Mamaroneck Avenue

(914) 993-6358

Monday, December 5 – Thursday, December 8
Midweek Romantic Getaway
The holiday season is the perfect time for a date night. Join The Melting Pot for a French inspired fondue experience. Dinner for two is just $59 per couple and includes cheese fondue, entrees, and chocolate covered strawberries with champagne. Book now, and ask for special seating in our Lover’s Lane section.

Upcoming Events…
Saturday, December 10 – Sunday, December 18 from 11 am – 7 pm

White Plains WinterFest Holiday Market

Artisan food, craft vendors, and live music. Located on Court Street between Main Street and Martine Avenue.

Wednesdays at 12:10

Noonday Concerts at Grace Church

30 minute concerts. Free admission, donations are greatly appreciated.

December 14 – Ephemerals: Thomas Bagwell, piano; Gilda Lyons, voice
December 21 – Angelica, women’s chamber choir
January 11 – Jenny J. Lee, piano

Five Charged in White Plains Federal Court with $33 Million Mortgage Fraud Conspiracy

WPCNR FBI WIRE. From the Federal Bureau of Investigation. December 1. 2016:

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Christina Scaringi, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Northeast Region of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), today announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging five defendants with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud in connection with a debt-elimination scheme to defraud homeowners and banks.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated:  “The defendants allegedly preyed on vulnerable homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments and, with their greed, victimized them further.

When the defendants were done with the victims, after falsely promising to reduce or even eliminate their mortgage debt for fees, these homeowners were left much worse off, in even greater debt.  With the charges today, and thanks to the investigative work of the FBI and HUD, the defendants now face federal fraud charges.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney stated:

“As charged, the defendants exploited a program designed to help cost-burdened individuals enjoy the privilege of affordable housing.  Crimes of this nature not only hurt their victims financially, but often force upon them other forms of anguish while harming the financial integrity of the very programs established to help them. We urge everyone to protect themselves against this type of fraud and abuse.  If something doesn’t sound right, trust your instincts and do some checking. If you think you may be or have been a victim of mortgage fraud, we urge you to contact your nearest FBI office.”

HUD-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Christina Scaringi stated:

“HUD’s reverse mortgage program was created to help our senior citizens find greater financial security through FHA-insured loans.  The defendants’ alleged scheme to unjustly enrich themselves through the victimization of our senior citizens is a shameful act that will not be tolerated by the HUD OIG.  We will continue to aggressively pursue those who would prey on America’s senior citizens and encourage anyone having knowledge of such schemes to contact our HUD hotline.”

As alleged in the Indictment unsealed today in White Plains federal court[1]:

In at least 2011 and 2012, BRUCE LEWIS, 65, JACQUELINE GRAHAM, 47, and an unindicted co-conspirator were partners in a business that they called the Pillow Foundation or the Terra Foundation (collectively, “Terra”).  Terra held itself out as a business that would investigate and eliminate mortgage debt in exchange for a fee.  Terra solicited clients who were having difficulties making their mortgage payments.

ANTHONY VIGNA, 59, was a lawyer who worked in-house at Terra and provided legal services to it and its clients.  ROCCO CERMELE, 54, was Terra’s director of operations who recruited clients, among other duties.  PAULA GUADAGNO, 58, was a real estate title professional who performed real estate title work for Terra.

LEWIS, GRAHAM, VIGNA, CERMELE, GUADAGNO, and others at Terra told potential clients that Terra could eliminate their mortgage debt in exchange for a fee.  In reality, Terra filed fraudulent discharges of mortgages at local county clerk’s offices in Westchester and Putnam Counties and in Connecticut.  These fraudulent documents made it appear as if Terra’s clients’ mortgages had been discharged, when in fact they had not.

To profit from their scheme, Terra and the defendants charged monthly fees that they said covered, among other things, audits of the clients’ properties that they often failed to perform.  Terra and the defendants also encouraged their clients to take out second or reverse mortgages on the properties for which Terra had claimed to have discharged the first mortgages.

Once the clients had taken out these second or reverse mortgages, Terra and the defendants retained substantial portions of the proceeds.  Some of these second or reverse mortgages were made under HUD’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Program.

In total, Terra and the defendants filed nearly 60 fraudulent discharges in Westchester and Putnam Counties in New York and in Connecticut.  The fraudulent discharges claimed to discharge mortgages with a total loan principal of over $33 million.  In reality, the Terra clients for whom the fraudulent discharges were filed were often left with both a second or reverse mortgage and their original mortgage that had not actually been discharged.

*                      *                     *

VIGNA, CERMELE, and GUADAGNO were taken into federal custody this morning and were presented in White Plains federal court this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy.  LEWIS and GRAHAM remain at large.

Each defendant is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud, and mail fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.  The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants would be determined by the judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and HUD-OIG.  Mr. Bharara also thanked the Westchester and Putnam County District Attorney’s Offices and the Cheshire Police Department in Cheshire, Connecticut, for their ongoing assistance in the case.

This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer Beidel, Michael Maimin, and James McMahon are in charge of the prosecutions.

US v. Bruce Lewis et al. Indictment.pdfUS v. Bruce Lewis et al. Indictment.pdfThe charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the descriptions of the Indictment set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

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WPCNR THE LETTER TICKER. From The Gedney Association. December 2, 2016:

Dear John,The Gedney Association has submitted to the Mayor and Common Council the legal opinion of its attorney, and environmental expert, with respect to the attempt by the French-American School of New York to have the Council reverse its earlier determination that the FASNY property is as an environmentally sensitive site (ESS). The letters of our attorney and expert are attached.

As you know, FASNY has submitted a revised site plan to the Common Council for approval. This time, FASNY is seeking to develop only a portion of its property, Parcel A, where the Ridgeway clubhouse is located.

The Common Council designated the entire FASNY property as an ESS several years ago, triggering a super majority vote requirement for development of the property. Now, in attempt to evade the supermajority vote protections of the White Plains zoning ordinance, FASNY asserts that its development site is not an ESS. 

The analysis by our environmental expert, Dr. Steven Danzer,
demonstrates that the Parcel A is in fact an ESS under applicable environmental laws and principles. Further, even at this late date, FASNY has not fully analyzed the wetlands features on Parcel A.

In addition, our environmental and land-use attorney, Howard Avrutine, has demonstrated that FASNY’s scheme to delist the property as an environmentally sensitive site is unlawful. A developer may not evade a municipality’s environmental protection laws by seeking to develop only part of a site that has already been deemed to be environmentally sensitive. Further, this tactic must fail because even the new development site is environmentally sensitive.

We are pleased that our counsel and expert have presented the Council with an accurate assessment of the unlawful nature of FASNY’s plan to circumvent our environmental protection laws. We are also disappointed that even at this late date, FASNY still has not performed a complete and accurate analysis of its building site. We trust that the Council will not side with this developer and abrogate the environmental protection to which all residents of White Plains and the surrounding area are entitled.


Please write and call our Mayor and Common Council members to let them know that they should not side with a developer and abrogate our City’s environmental protection laws. The FASNY site is environmentally sensitive both with respect to local impacts and as part of the Mamaroneck watershed. These laws were enacted over three decades ago to protect our environment, and disregard of these laws will both harm the environment now and set a dangerous precedent for the future.

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OWNERS OF WHITE PLAINS MALL PROPOSE “JUMP START” to City Transit District. Seen Bringing Restaurants, Public Food Craft Hall, 600 Rental Apartments of Varying Heights-in Walking Distance of Transit. Been in Development in Consultation with City for Year.

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Two weeks before White Plains gets its first look at what Parsons Brinkerhoff, the MTA, and the city transit center steering committee propose for redevelopment of the transit center,(based on collected citizen-preferences), owners of the White Plains Mall 200 Hamilton Avenue, presented a project Monday night to the Common Council that will reimagine the 1972-built mall into a residential community, public space and restaurant destination with regional appeal.

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Hamilton Avenue and Cottage Place ,looking West to the Transit Center.

Hamilton Avenue would include a bike lane access to the new railroad hub envisioned as part of   the transit district redevelopment, with a widened median. Entrance to the new concept Food/Craft Hall openair space would be off Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Boulevard, with a fountain on the corner of  Barker and MLKJBLVD.

A 28 story, 260 unit apartment building would be built on the corner of Hamilton and Cottage Place, diagonally across  from the Residence Inn. Adjacent to the 28 story would be a 15 story apartment, complex with 120 units, and on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, 100 units with an additional 120 units fronting Hamilton Avenue. The residential components surround the property  with retail (mostly restaurants) at street level on the sides.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard frontage would be re developed into restaurants and stepped heights of residential units. Parking would be in garages inside the structure and a private greenspace created on the roof of the interior garage, 7  stories above the street for use of apartment residents.

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Rendering of the Food/Craft Hall, showing kiosks and residences rising in the background

The public would have use of the public space reminiscent of those in old Spanish courtyards, sprawling in scope for concerts, with enticing kiosk food concessions and traditional contemporary restaurants  surrounding the interior courtyard. Mr. Null coined this public space the Food Craft Hall. It would be accessible by a street entrance on Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard  where the present mall is entered now.

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The Corner of Barker and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard looking south to entrance of the public space and parking.

The proposal suggests thee rental complexes of  28 stories at the highest and stepping down to surround the “mall block” with residential with an open air public space and food kiosks inside. The apartments are planned to incorporate the city requirement that 20% of the units be classified as affordable housing linked to income.

The plan is to build the “reimagined” mall in three years from the time it is approved (5 years out ). Streetscapes is spearheading design of the project which attorney for the project.

William Null said the concept follows the national trend of providing rental housing to repopulate downtowns with street attractions, restaurants, entertainment that appeal to persons in their 20s and 30s, who seek the best of suburban and city worlds, close to public transit so they do not have to have a car.

Mayor Thomas Roach chairing the work session, said the concept fits in with the transit district mission to bring safer and an appealing environment for pedestrians, bicyclists, and create a lively environment around the central transit district.

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WPCNR QUILL & EYESHADE. From the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. November 28, 2016:

The $4.9 Million September Sales Tax boom did sustain momentum in October for the City of White Plains. The retail pace fell to $3,982,450 compared to the $4.9 Million the city raked in in September.

The $3,982,450 October White Plains “handle” was $328,613 lower than the $4,311,063 generated in October, 2015 (a 7.6% decline, year to year for the month).

 White Plains, four  months into the city fiscal year 2016-17 is up ½% $16,787,530 to $16,690,601 coined in July, August, September and October in 2015.

Westchester County now going into  the last two months of its 2015 year is up ½% over 2015, $414,480,802. Should the County equal sales tax receipts of November and December of 2015, it will top $501,858,187, an all time record over 2015’s $499,527,981.

However, the county’s ambitious forecast of a 14% sales tax receipts increase was obviously way too high. 

The county has never had more than a 4% sales tax receipts increase in the years WPCNR has been observing county sales tax trends.

The county answer to the bungled forecast is to lease the Westchester County Airport to an independent operator and cover the $15 Million shortfall with an upfront payment from the airport operator. The County Legislature is dubious about this solution.

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Common Council Takes Up Solar Panels for Gedney Yard; White Plains Mall Development Tonight 6 PM


Tonight at 6 PM  at City Hall, the Common Council will see a presentation by developers of the White Plains Mall defining their design for a 28 story residential and mixed use (retail included) on the White Plains Mall site.

In addition the council will hear according to the agenda, a  Sunrise Solar  proposal for a series of solar panels on the Gedney Yard, (city-owned property), and the New York Power Authority will make a presentation on their “Implementation Program.”



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America’s Hometown

WPCNR Thanksgiving Portfolio, all photos by WPCNR:

On this Thanksgiving, let us remember the band of hardy intrepid souls who crossed an ocean in a boat no  bigger than a large Chris Craft and settled in an unforgiving landscape and started a country in the cold landscape of New England.

They were helped by Indians who welcomed them, without whom they would not have survived. And, remember, those pilgrims were immigrants.  A salute to this brave band.

They sailed into a bay, dropped anchor and just carved out a living after living in incredible conditions in a ship’s hold for weeks, crossing the storm-tossed North Atlantic. Here are some views of America’s first hometown captured by the WPCNR Roving Photographer.

Plymouth Rock Landing. Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The Mayflower II. Plymouth Harbor.


Indian Statue of Squanto welcoming the Pilgrim Settlers. Plymouth.


Governor William Bradford Statue on the Shores of Plymouth Harbor

“Plymouth Rock,” The landing place of the pilgrims. 

Settlers Home, left, circa 1690. 

Church, Plymouth late 1700s. .

The Jury: Old Burial Ground, Plymouth. Last resting place of the pilgrims overlooking Plymouth Harbor. The sacrifices, bravery and perseverence of these persons stand as examples to Americans today. How are we doin’?


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What Reporters Can Expect from The Trump Administration…From Nic Dawes writing for the Columbia Journalism Review

(WPCNR Editor’s Note: The following is reprinted from the Columbia Journalism Review which has predictions from a South African journalist as to what the American press can expect from the new Trump administration:)

Maneuvering a new reality for US journalism


Ordinarily, it is you who offer the rest of the world advice about press freedom, and the accountability architecture of democratic societies, so I understand that it may be strange to hear it coming back at you, but this will not be the last inversion that the election of Donald Trump delivers.

You have some deep resources to draw on for the battle that is closing around you. For starters there is your Constitution, which offers stronger protections than just about any comparable legal framework. And your money, greatly diminished, and unevenly distributed to be sure, but orders of magnitude more plentiful than what your counterparts elsewhere have to call upon. You also have reserves of talent, creativity, and commitment far larger than you are given credit for by your critics, and right now by angry, bewildered, and wounded friends.

But one thing you don’t have, is experience of what to do when things start to get genuinely bad.

Your free press is a beautiful, important thing, even when it is besieged and bedraggled. Perhaps especially then.

Take it from those of us who have worked in places where the institutional fabric is thinner, the legal protections less absolute, and the social license to operate less secure. Not outright dictatorships, but majoritarian democracies where big men—and they are usually men—polish their image in the mirror of state media or social media, while slowly squeezing the life out of independent institutions.

When Donald Trump ditched his press pool twice within days of being elected, and launched a series of Twitter attacks on The New York Times, a lot of you sounded surprised. As if you expected him to become a different person once the anointing oil of the Electoral College had touched his brow. Of course there was nothing surprising about his conduct. Rule number 1 of surviving autocracy, as Masha Gessen reminds us, is “Believe the Autocrat.”

Related: Journalism’s moment of reckoning has arrived

When Mr. Trump threatened during the campaign to review America’s libel law framework, he was setting out his stall, not bluffing. When he threatened to sue, when he mocked a disabled reporter, when he made clear his affinity for Vladimir Putin and Peter Thiel, he was issuing a warning.

Of course, not being surprised doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be outraged. As Gessen also wrote, to survive autocracy, you have to preserve outrage, and your free press is a beautiful, important thing, even when it is besieged and bedraggled. Perhaps especially then.

The rest of us get irritated with you at times, in the manner of less privileged relatives, but you have given the rest of us a good deal over the years, standards to aspire to, innovation to build on, voices of great clarity. Here is some advice in return, mostly from India and South Africa, where an ostensibly free press is confronted with regulatory, economic, and political pressures that come with majoritarianism.

1. Get used to the end of access as you know it.

The president-elect loves to see himself on magazine covers. Don’t kid yourself that this means you will enjoy meaningful access to his administration on the terms you are familiar with. There will be a lot less trading of micro-scoops for favorable coverage, the transactional stock-in trade of capital city reporting everywhere. In India for example, after Narendra Modi took power, journalists were banned from government offices they had once wandered freely. They were kicked off the presidential plane. Modi granted no interviews to the domestic press for over a year. His ministers and senior officials whispered privately that they had been ordered not to speak to the press.

Losing this kind of access isn’t all bad. It reminds you that your job is to hold power to account, rather than to join its club. Outsider status can be bracing. But it comes with the choking off of other kinds. Twitter and Instagram posts substitute for the tough back-and-forth of press conferences, officials stonewall legitimate queries, and you wait to publish, because right of reply matters, accuracy matters to you. Not to them.

So you take to the law. But freedom of information filings will be slowed-walked to death or irrelevance, as they increasingly are in India, and other countries where the first flush of enthusiasm over FOIA legislation has replaced with a deepening chill.

In one case I was involved in in South Africa three presidents fought us over seven years and two trips to the constitutional court before we won. By then it was too late to do anything but prove a point.

So you have to cultivate other ways to get the data that you need and the democratic process demands.

There are going to be a plenty of officials who are deeply uncomfortable with the direction of the administration. Some of them are your sources already, no doubt. But you will need them much more. Especially the awkward squad. The mid-level career bureaucrats, the ones deep down the cc list, the ones who may not have the secretary’s ear, or the inside scoop on how many almonds the president eats at night.

And you are going to need a knowledge of strong encryption if you are going to keep them safe under a regime that has the most sophisticated surveillance capabilities ever imagined, and a president-elect with history of vindictiveness.

You might think the worst of access culture is already over in Washington. We’ve seen the videos from the White House correspondents dinner. It really isn’t.

So it will feel strange, this new world. It cuts to your sense of who you are, the proximity to power and the capacity for actual influence that makes up for your shitty paycheck and the trolls all over your timeline, but on balance, it is a more honest place, and it is the only one available.


2. Get used to spending more time in court.

You are going to need to litigate to get access to information, but you are also going to have to defend, a lot. Some of the attacks will come from proxies suing over your reporting on corruption, conflicts of interest, and general sleaze. We never lost a suit like that during my time in South Africa, and there were plenty, but we burned countless hours and money we really didn’t have, both of which would have been better spent on more reporting.

In India, where the protections are weaker, obscure activists in country towns launch suits against reporters, editors, and proprietors routinely, seeking immense damages in the overburdened and sometimes compromised provincial courts. Anyone who has worked in an Indian newsroom can describe for you what the words “chilling effect” really mean.

You obviously can’t back down in the face of these efforts, but you can use them as crusading opportunities, both spreading the story and popularizing your sense of mission. You should be quite unembarrassed about this. You should probably also think about some kind of pooled legal defence fund for smaller outlets.

It will feel strange, this new world. It cuts to your sense of who you are, the proximity to power and the capacity for actual influence that makes up for your shitty paycheck and the trolls all over your timeline, but on balance, it is a more honest place.

Much more frightening, of course, are the moments when the proxies step aside, and the full might of the security establishment is brought to bear. Your Espionage Act is a truly terrible piece of legislation. Some kind of elite consensus has spared reporters and editors its full force since 1917, but word is the elite consensus is over.

Being fingerprinted for journalism is a very strange experience, you don’t want it to become a normal one.

Related: Covering Trump: An oral history of an unforgettable campaign

3. Get used to being stigmatized as “opposition.”

Mr Trump was quick out of the blocks on this one with his “professional protesters incited by the media” tweet. His subsequent attacks on the Times fit a familiar pattern: call out one prominent enemy pour encourager les autres, and let the trolls do the rest. This will escalate. The basic idea is simple: to delegitimize accountability journalism by framing it as partisan.

In South Africa linking the press with the opposition was a routine trope, on really bad days ruling party figures would add the CIA or foreign capitalists.

A member of parliament once asked me, during hearings on a draconian new intelligence law that the national editors’ body objected to “tell me, are you still South African when you go home at night?”

Narendra Modi, on the other hand, never names his enemies, but the liberal-leaning NDTV carries the brunt of his ire, with one of its channels recently ordered to go off air for a day as punishment for allegedly compromising security with its coverage of a militant attack. And his ardent social media fans do much of the work for him. Steel yourself and take a look at Barkha Dutt’s mentions sometime to see the Indian version of Steven Bannon’s white nationalist horde.

“Paid media,” “presstitutes,” “Lutyens journalists” (the equivalent of Beltway insiders) are all routine slurs from India’s ruling party, meant to associate the press with the old, corrupt elite and the opposition Congress Party.

The frustrating thing about this approach is that it works quite well, and it is going to work REALLY well in America next year.

Why should anyone care about your investigation of the president’s conflicts of interest, or his tax bills, if they emanate from the political opposition? The scariest thing about “fake news” is that all news becomes fake. Yours too.

The challenge is to maintain a tough, independent, journalistic politics, a politics of accountability, equity and the rule of law without straightforwardly aligning with the partisan opposition. In places like Venezuela, where private media have been forced into a purely oppositional stance, the result has been a shrinking of real spaces for dissent and accountability.

This is a tough line to walk, because people on both sides of the political divide actually want you to fail at it. But it is among your most important tasks.

Related: ‘The goal is not to fear Trump, but for Trump to fear you’


4. When they can’t regulate you away, they will try to buy you out or suck up your oxygen.

Congressional funding for public broadcasting is limited here, as is its audience, so one avenue of media capture is foreclosed. But crony billionaires will be lurking all around the fringes of a distressed industry, happy to tolerate losses in return for a voice. India has hundreds of loss-making TV channels and newspapers. In South Africa, the main English language daily group has been bought out by a presidential crony, and gutted. But you can look closer to home for examples, perhaps to Las Vegas.

Some media owners, already ensconced, will tack to the prevailing wind. Gently at first, so you hardly notice it. Completely in the end.

And where that doesn’t work, the president’s people will start, or boost, their own alternatives, and seek to route around you. Breitbart is just beginning.


Organizing journalists is a great deal worse than herding cats. We have egos that are at once giant, and fragile. We like to own the story, all of it. We are rubbish at management. But some among you have these skills.


5. You are going to have to get organized.

My sense is that American journalists aren’t much for formal structures that reach across the profession and represent its interests. The protection of the First Amendment, and your establishment credentials have been enough, by and large. You don’t have a press council, or a meaningful editors’ body, or strong unions.

In the new world, journalism Twitter isn’t going to be an adequate safeguard.

You need to band together around positive principles—independence, accountability, ethical standards, and the defence of your rights, which must be fought for both in the broad constitutional brushstrokes and the narrow detail of regulation and practice. Judging by the recent barrage of anti-semitic and racist threats to journalists, you will also need to address both the climate of hate and specific concerns around safety.

Organizing journalists is a great deal worse than herding cats. We have egos that are at once giant, and fragile. We like to own the story, all of it. We are rubbish at management. But some among you have these skills. Get it together to push them forward.

Also, find some allies outside of your usual circles. In South Africa, for example, our campaigns for freedom of information were vastly more credible when they were undertaken in partnership with organizations with their roots poor communities who could speak to the importance of transparency in ensuring access to clean water, safe streets, and healthcare.


I’M SORRY TO LECTURE. But I am worried. We all are. In the countries where I’ve spent my working life, the press still matters, but there is less of it, and the whole accountability ecosystem has become unbalanced. For all its real and urgent problems, US journalism is still the City on a Hill. The fading of its light will be disastrous not just for Americans, but for all of us.


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Nic Dawes is the former editor in chief of South Africa’s Mail & Guardian and was until recently Chief Content Officer at India’s Hindustan Times. He now heads media at Human Rights Watch in New York.

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