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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

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By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

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By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

Rubashkin starts and defends ‘grassroots’ blog

By Lynda Waddington | 10.07.08 | 1:14 pm

A pro-Agriprocessors blog launched “by people who live and work in Postville” has been outed by Nigel Duara of the Associated Press as being at least partly run by Getzel Rubashkin, a member of the family who owns the kosher meatpacking plant. Rubashkin has accused Duara of cherry picking information from their conversation, a move he said has “further tarnished the journalistic profession.”

The blog Postville Voices began shortly after the May 12 immigration raid at Agriprocessors. Originally, the site was named after the meatpacking plant, but switched its name June 1, citing a request by Agriprocessors management. In the past it has taken journalists to task on what the blog referred to as faulty reporting. On June 3 an Iowa Independent report on allegations of sexual harrassment at the plant was questioned by the blog writers.

Again, allegations reported as fact. Semantics aside, if you read that report you will find that although claims have been made of propositioning by individual supervisors, none of the women claim to have filed a complaint with the company, making one wonder how the company was to have prevented the harassment. But this is not journalism, it is media entertainment, so let’s not be too picky.

The site also hosted a series of videos from plant employees speaking about their postive work experiences. Rubashkin has admitted to shooting the videos inside the plant, but says they were forwarded after editing to the workers and the workers alone decided if they were fair characterizations of their opinions before submitting them to the blog.

Duara, who characterized the effort as astroturfing, reported that Rubashkin and a group of friends — friends that have since been named on the blog — began the site about two weeks after the immigration raid. Within six weeks postings on the blog had dwindled. There was only one posting for the entire month of July and none during the month of August.

“This blog has nothing to do with Agriprocessors, and any attempt to link it to Agriprocessors in order to discredit and smear them is ridiculous,” Rubashkin wrote in a response to the Duara report. “It is true that I am the son of Sholom Rubashkin, but I am also an independent individual and my choices are my own.”

Rubashkin said that he was urged by company officials to not be involved with the site, but did so anyway. He further presses that “no deception was perpetrated by the editors.” The reason his name was not made public in relation to the blog, Rubashkin said, was because he feared further “antagonizing the plant management” and was not an attempt to “fool anyone.”

A few weeks after Postville Voices went dark, a new blog dubbed Agri Facts began. Rubashkin denies any involvement in creating this new effort but says that he will “be assisting them in any way I that I can.” He added that if “[Duara] or anyone else has a problem with people defending themselves or others against misinformation and smear campaigns, they will just have to live with it.”

While the new blog has refrained from naming journalists or media outlets to criticize coverage, it does have two posts that correlate directly to reports on housing and rental rates in Postville. Both posts appeared on the blog shortly after two reports on Iowa Independent and various other media reports on the same topic. Getzel Rubashkin, concerned that Iowa Independent misrepresented him as a spokesman for the company and that the housing situation in Postville was not being factually represented, contacted Iowa Independent to discuss the reports.

The United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, which has long yearned to organize workers at the Postville meatpacking plant, hosts its own site, Eye on Agriprocessors. The relationship between the web site and the union is fully disclosed in the page header.

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Comments

  • Getzel_Rubashkin

    Lynda. You have my number. You did not call me before writing a story on me, and just FYI, I contacted AP about the factual inaccuracies, omissions and misrepresentations and they are reviewing the matter. If you would have called me, I would have advised that you hold off on writing based on that article while it is under review.

    Incidentally, the UFCW blog does not mention the fact that they have a financial interest in Agriprocessors and bringing pressures to bear on the company, and which is mostly ignored by the press (although you mention it here) even as they make sure to list all the charges against the company whenever they can, even when it has no direct bearing on the subject of their writing.

  • Getzel_Rubashkin

    I should note that I think this article is a balanced article, just that I wish I would have been contacted.

  • Getzel_Rubashkin

    I read the blog post you felt was criticizing your reporting. It is actually criticizing a different reporter who misquoted your piece, presenting it as a report on the “routine sexual harassment that female employees at the Agriprocessors plant faced.”

  • Getzel_Rubashkin

    I read the blog post you felt was criticizing your reporting. It is actually criticizing a different reporter who misrepresentedd your piece as a report on the “routine sexual harassment that female employees at the Agriprocessors plant faced,” a statement of fact instead of the as-yet unsubstantiated allegations, serious though they may be, which is how you reported it. The paragraph you quoted actually reads “If you read that report,” a reference to your original article.

  • Getzel_Rubashkin

    Lynda, you should have called me before writing this story. I contacted AP about the factual inaccuracies, omissions and misrepresentations and they are reviewing the matter. If you would have called me, I would have advised that you hold off on writing based on that article while it is under review.

    Incidentally, the UFCW blog does not mention the fact that they have a financial interest in Agriprocessors and bringing pressures to bear on the company, a fact which is generally ignored by the press (although you mention it here) even as they make sure to list all the charges against the company whenever they can, even when it has no direct bearing on the subject of their writing.

  • Getzel_Rubashkin

    I should note that I think this article is a balanced article, just that I wish I would have been contacted, since the AP article itself was far less than accurate.

  • Getzel_Rubashkin

    I read the blog post you felt was criticizing your reporting. It is actually criticizing a different reporter who misrepresentedd your piece as a report on the “routine sexual harassment that female employees at the Agriprocessors plant faced,” a statement of fact instead of the as-yet unsubstantiated allegations, serious though they may be, which is how you reported it. The paragraph you quoted actually reads “If you read that report,” a reference to your original article.

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