Clear It With Sidney

Notes on journalism for the common good, by Lindsay Beyerstein

Larry Lessig on Fixing Campaign Finance

Photo credit: 

Thomas Hawk, Creative Commons.

Harvard law professor Larry Lessig explains why we shouldn’t pin our hopes for campaign finance reform on a constitutional amendment, as desirable as useful as such an amendment might be.

Instead, Lessig argues, we should focus on increasing the percentage of campaign donations funded by small-dollar contributors. Attracting small donations could shift the balance of power away from large monied interests, towards ordinary citizens. He points out that it’s much easier to incentivize small contributions than it is to change the constitution to limit large ones. 

Sidney’s Picks: CA Judge Shutters Uber

Photo credit: 

London taxi drivers protesting Uber, David Holt London, Creative Commons.

The Best of the Week’s News

Sidney’s Picks: SC’s Confederate Flag is History!

Photo credit: 

MariusPriv, Creative Commons. Illustration shows Bree Newsome, a South Carolina woman who beat the state legislature to the punch and took the flag down herself. Today, it went down legally and permanently.  

The Best of the Week’s News

  • Hillman judge Ta-Nehisi Coates garners another rave review for his new book, “Between the World and Me.”
  • Hillman Prize-winner John Richardson checks in with climate scientists to find out how they feel about their front row seats for Armageddon.
  • A beautiful essay about a body farm in Texas and some remarkable people who gave their bodies to science. 

#Sidney’s Picks: OSHA, Salon, and Radioactive Toothpaste

The Best of the Week’s News

  • Editorial staffers at Salon.com announce their intent to unionize.
  • The Radium Girls, workplace safety, and America’s love affair with radioactive toothpaste.

#Sidney’s Picks: Supreme Court Legalizes Equal Marriage!

Photo credit: 

Bill Ward’s Brickpile, Creative Commons.

The Best of the Week’s News (And There’s LOTS of Good News)

What the Uber Decision Means for the Future of Work

Photo credit: 

Thomas Hawk, Creative Commons.

Does a recent California labor ruling spell the death of the 1099 economy? Laura Bliss investigates for CityLab. 

Sidney’s Picks: Mourning and Organizing After Charleston

Photo credit: 

“Grief,” by Alex, Creative Commons.

The Best of the Week’s News

Sucks to Be You, Uber: Driver Deemed Employee in California

Uber’s worst nightmare has come true:

In what could be an explosive decision, the California Labor Commission has found that a driver for Uber in San Francisco is an employee of the company. That’s from a ruling filed in state court on Tuesday and first reported by Reuters. It’s pretty damning. “Defendants hold themselves out as nothing more than a neutral technological platform, designed simply to enable drivers and passengers to transact the business of transportation,” the commission writes. “The reality, however, is that Defendants are involved in every aspect of the operation.” [Slate]

So far, the ruling only applies to one driver from San Francisco, but the precedent could be far-reaching. Uber plans to appeal.

Sidney’s Picks: Baja Farmworkers May Win Big--With a Little Help from a Sidney-winner

Photo credit: 

Wikipedia, Creative Commons.

The Best of the Week’s News

  • A factory worker who lost both hands making flatscreen TVs tells her story.

Maslin Nir Wins June Sidney for Exposing Rampant Abuse of NYC Manicurists

Photo credit: 

Thomas Hawk, Creative Commons.

Sarah Maslin Nir has won the June Sidney Award for exposing rampant abuses in the nail salon industry in New York City. The 13-month investigation included interiews with well over a hundred nail workers from around the city. Only one in four reported being paid minimum wage. Some earned day rates of just $10, and trainee manicurists not only didn’t get paid, they had to pay their bosses to learn the trade. 

Read more about the winning series and its impact in The Backstory

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