Rock Center Rocked by Ethics Scandal: NBC News Rips Off Goodwill Story from Blogger

Posted by on Jun 24, 2013 in Blog, Featured Post, Goodwill | 0 comments

Rock Center Rocked by Ethics Scandal: NBC News Rips Off Goodwill Story from Blogger

The very last broadcast of NBC News’ Rock Center featured a scathing expose on Goodwill Industries. The report by Harry Smith explained how top Goodwill executives make millions, while some workers earn less than the federal minimum wage.

If you’re experiencing deja vu, that’s because loyal Huffington Post readers know all about the topic from last month’s post, “Goodwill Minimum Wage Loophole Will Shock You.”

Or, maybe you caught my original piece way back in September 2012, “Goodwill’s Charity Racket: CEOs Earn Top-Dollar, Workers Paid Less Than Minimum Wage.”

Or, this Watchdog.org expose, “Policies, tax dollars enrich Goodwill execs,” which earned a supportive Tweet from Sasha Chavkin of the Columbia Journalism Review.

Or, any one of these outstanding stories by KSBY, Oregonian, CBS 4 Denver, North County Times and News Observer. All of which, I’ve cited and linked to.

Last September, on Huffington Post, I wrote:

An American multi-national corporation, which accepts millions of dollars in government funds, pays its top executives more than half a million dollars per year in total compensation, while simultaneously paying some of its employees less than the federal minimum wage. Some employees earn just 22 cents per hour. And the entire racket is perfectly legal thanks to a Depression-era loophole in federal labor law.

NBC News’ Friday report:

One of the nation’s best-known charities is paying disabled workers as little as 22 cents an hour, thanks to a 75-year-old legal loophole that critics say needs to be closed. Goodwill Industries, a multibillion-dollar company whose executives make six-figure salaries, is among the nonprofit groups permitted to pay thousands of disabled workers far less than minimum wage because of a federal law known as Section 14 (c).

My May 2013 Huffington Post piece reported the $1.1 million compensation for one Goodwill CEO:

Goodwill of Southern California paid more than $1.1 million in total compensation to its then-CEO, making him the highest paid Goodwill executive in the country.

The NBC News story repeated:

In 2011 the CEO of Goodwill Industries of Southern California took home $1.1 million in salary and deferred compensation.

NBC even used the same quote from Rep. Gregg Harper. From my Watchdog story:

“Meaningful work deserves fair pay,” Harper said. “This dated provision unjustly prohibits workers with disabilities from reaching their full potential. The current federal disability laws are hopelessly outdated and will ultimately lead to unemployment and poverty for these individuals.”

NBC News used an identical quote:

“Meaningful work deserves fair pay,” the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Gregg Harper, R.-Miss., told NBC News. “This dated provision unjustly prohibits workers with disabilities from reaching their full potential.”

But, how can I be so sure that NBC News read my work. For starters, it’s included in the Wikipedia entry on Goodwill.

An independent investigation of Goodwill’s tax returns showed that more than 100 Goodwills pay less than minimum wage, while simultaneously paying more than $53.7 million in total compensation to top executives. The former CEO of the Goodwill of Southern California was the highest paid Goodwill executive in the country. He received more than $1.1 million in total compensation

There are also my emails and phone calls to NBC News producers, Anna Schecter and Monica Alba, which are posted here and here.

I’m not upset that NBC News ripped off my research. I’m upset that the big networks refuse to adapt to the new media era. Networks refuse to share credit with bloggers– to their own detriment. Rock Center is off the air because of low ratings. It’s off the air because its traditions, its rules and its addiction to the “exclusive” are incompatible with the digital era.

When information is no longer scarce, sharing is good for everyone.   Had NBC News been quick to credit and mention us bloggers, freelancers and local journalists, we’d have returned the favor and shared more of their stories. More clicks, Tweets, posts and likes for NBC News.

Who knows? All of the links might have produced enough hits to keep Rock Center on the air.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. NBC News Rock Center Copies Goodwill Story from Flash Report Editor | FlashReport - [...] was originally posted at [...]
  2. Goodwill Buys Online Ads Defending Low Pay for Workers | John Hrabe - [...] more than $53.7 million in total compensation for top executives. NBC News’ Rock Center featured a similar expose that …
  3. Disability groups deliver petitions to Goodwill | CalWatchDog - […] then-CEO, making him the highest paid Goodwill executive in the country. The following month, an NBC investigation of Goodwill …
  4. Al Jazeera’s Investigative Journalism: That’s Diamonds | FlashReport - […] someone who has had my research plagiarized by a big media outlet, I can tell you there’s nothing more …
  5. Disability groups deliver petitions to Goodwill | John Hrabe - […] then-CEO, making him the highest paid Goodwill executive in the country. The following month, an NBC investigation of Goodwill …
  6. Labor Leader Champions Pay Equity for Disabled Workers | John Hrabe - […] the highest paid Goodwill executive in the country. The month following the Watchdog report, an NBC investigation of Goodwill repeated the same […]
  7. San Diego lawmakers fight for fair wages for disabled workers | CalNewsroom.com - […] spent $53.7 million in total executive compensation. A month after the Watchdog report, an NBC investigation repeated the same […]
  8. CalWatchdog.com story spurs San Diego lawmakers to introduce bill | CalWatchDog - […] spent $53.7 million in total executive compensation. A month after the Watchdog.org report, an NBC investigation repeated the same […]

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