Old Media Pillaged

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It's about time the Washington Post, Roll Call, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Times put filters on their switchboards to block calls from Politico.com and the Washington Examiner. That's because we hear that the Examiner and Politico have a bunch more top jobs to fill, and it's those four publications that are bleeding the most reporters to the newcomers. Insiders say that the editors at the Post and the Times are screaming the most as a handful of staffers flee for the new media and better money. And it's going to continue: Politico has about six more major jobs to fill, we hear, and new Examiner Editor Stephen Smith, who hired me when he was U.S. News editor, is moving quickly to build his staff.

Thanks but No Thanks, Bennie

Our little item this week about new House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson offering his personal E-mail to Transportation Security Agency officers so they can complain about their conditions without fear or reprisals has drawn a response from TSA. In a nutshell: Thanks, Mr. Chairman, but TSA has already put conditions in place to protect workers who blow the whistle. Ellen Howe, the assistant administrator for TSA's Office of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs, asked us to post this response:

Thanks to Chairman Bennie Thompson for his generous offer to have TSOs contact him directly via e-mail as stated in Washington Whispers, Feb. 11, 2007 -- Better Than a Suggestion Box.

We appreciate and share Chairman Thompson's wish for open communications and encourage all of our employees to voice their concerns to TSA through the Transportation Security Officer National Advisory Council. This Council represents security officers' interests nationwide and maintains regular and open lines of communication with TSA's leadership.

A key to ensuring aviation security is for our security officers to feel free to make disclosures of wrongdoing without fear of retaliation. That is why our security officers are now and have been protected from reprisal for whistle-blowing since 2002. On May 28, 2002, TSA executed a binding agreement with the Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency that enforces Whistleblower Protection Act protections. TSA followed up on the agreement with a management directive (HRM Letter No. 1800-01) issued on Nov. 20, 2002, to give Transportation Security Officers (TSO) whistle-blower protections like those afforded to every other Federal employee.

It is also important to note that a Transportation Security Officer can join a union. In a grievance or any matter in which a TSO may have representation, he or she can select a union representative. TSA has a robust Model Workplace program at airports, an Office of the Ombudsman, as well as an Office of Civil Rights, for security officers to turn to should local management be unable to meet their needs.

Thanks

Ellen