Two years later, it was DCist that revealed a blockbuster story detailing sexual harassment allegations in opposition to a former WAMU staffer that has rocked the group. The prolonged report, revealed final week, comes amid broader turmoil on the station. Now a number of staffers are calling on their high boss — WAMU normal supervisor J.J. Yore — to resign.
Then a former WAMU staffer accused Yore of understanding and doing nothing about “a serial sexual harasser in his newsroom” — identified as former transportation reporter Martin Di Caro. Numerous ladies responded with their very own tales about Di Caro.
These threads prompted DCist’s investigation, written by staffer Rachel Kurzius. “I believed that these allegations deserved journalistic scrutiny and, if true, have been newsworthy,” Kurzius stated by way of e-mail.
Her editors agreed the story — which might publicly expose their very own group’s troubles — was price pursuing. Kurzius interviewed 24 folks, together with journalists, authorities officers and nonprofit workers, a couple of vary of inappropriate conduct they allegedly skilled from Di Caro, who labored for WAMU between 2012 and 2018, corresponding to making sexually suggestive feedback and sending undesirable late night time messages to younger ladies. She discovered that Metro had even banned Di Caro from protecting board conferences or coming into headquarters for 5 months in response to a harassment criticism from an company worker.
Kurzius additionally uncovered two human sources investigations and confidential memos from his bosses — together with one co-authored by Yore — who warned Di Caro about his allegedly inappropriate conduct, all whereas he continued to obtain skilled alternatives. (Di Caro didn’t reply to an inquiry from The Put up.)
Kurzius stated the story was solely attainable as a result of dozens of individuals got here ahead, a few of whom “spent hours on the telephone recounting painful recollections,” she stated. “I’m humbled by their braveness.”
The story is the newest in a collection of harassment scandals which have beset public radio because the #MeToo period started in 2017. Staff have leveled accusations at managers and on-air hosts at stations in New York (WNYC), Boston (WBUR) and at NPR in Washington. A sexual harassment controversy in 2017 successfully ended the profession of Garrison Keillor, creator of “A Prairie House Companion” and one in every of public radio’s greatest stars.
In an e-mail, Yore declined to remark about Di Caro, citing directions from attorneys at American College, which holds the station’s license.
Seth Grossman, a spokesman for American College, stated in an announcement: “We’re actively listening to workers issues and acknowledge there are each particular and broader points WAMU should deal with within the areas of range, fairness, and inclusion, in addition to how issues of misconduct are dealt with at WAMU. Within the coming days, a collection of actions to enhance the WAMU office now and sooner or later will probably be introduced.”
However the assertion is notable for what it doesn’t say in regards to the destiny of WAMU’s administration, notably Yore, whom numerous workers blame for his dealing with of the Di Caro episode. Throughout an intense all-staff assembly Friday — chronicled in actual time by WAMU staffers on Twitter — Yore confronted a barrage of criticism however refused to step down, saying he needed to remain to implement wanted modifications.
“I’m drained. WAMU administration isn’t taking accountability,” tweeted Jordan Pascale, who has Di Caro’s former transportation job. “They didn’t have the ethical or moral readability to deal with so many deep set points. They should go.”
WAMU has been one of the financially robust and well-liked public radio stations within the nation. Its information and news-discussion programming often ranks close to the highest of the native scores. It depends closely on its loyal listeners for contributions, which accounted for 43 p.c of its $38.9 million income in its last publicly reported fiscal year.
Some WAMU staffers have publicly pleaded for listeners to not pull their donations as a type of protest in opposition to administration, pointing to the truth that their very own group’s reporter produced the accountability reporting. “We work straight collectively every single day. Don’t punish our journalists by pulling your donation after we want it to help this work,” tweeted WAMU reporter Ally Schweitzer.
“We’ve necessary journalism to do. We’ve payments to pay,” tweeted producer Jonquilyn Hill. “And everyone knows when issues hit the fan — throughout industries and orgs — who’s the primary to go. It will likely be ladies, folks of coloration, younger people. These of us least prone to have a security web.”
WAMU, which has 70,000 contributing members, has obtained “many” inquiries in regards to the harassment allegations, however fewer than 10 have canceled their persevering with contributions, in accordance with WAMU spokesperson Diane Hockenberry.
The blowup at WAMU has been carefully watched amongst public broadcasters, who see WAMU as one in every of public radio’s flagship stations. “As a public service, stations which have had harassment claims should be clear,” stated Mike Savage, a veteran public radio supervisor and NPR board member who heads WEKU in Kentucky. “As journalists, we by no means wish to turn out to be the story, however the revelations of harassment and inequity should be reported on in order that stations preserve the excessive diploma of credibility and belief with our viewers.”
Throughout her reporting, Kurzius relied upon WAMU’s guidelines on editorial independence and transparency, created in 2018, which state: “Our purpose is to cowl any such story simply as we might if it concerned one other group, and to take all such actions obligatory to make sure that is feasible.” Editors Rachel Sadon and Natalie Delgadillo credit score it with giving them “full license” to comply with the story.
“We didn’t talk about the story with senior executives and didn’t face any inner pressures in the course of the course of,” the editors stated in a joint message. “We give the group vital credit score for guaranteeing we have been capable of protect our editorial independence, and consider that Rachel’s story serves as a marker of WAMU’s power as a journalistic establishment.”
Based on a WAMU staffer at Friday’s assembly, Yore — who didn’t see the story earlier than publication — praised DCist’s story.
Yore has been station supervisor since 2014. Throughout his tenure, the newsroom has almost doubled, membership has grown by a 3rd, and income elevated by 70 p.c, in accordance with WAMU. Yore additionally oversaw the acquisition of DCist and the launch of “1A,” the successor to “The Diane Rehm Present,” the WAMU-produced speak present that’s syndicated to greater than 300 public radio stations, after its longtime host retired in 2016 (Rehm nonetheless hosts a podcast for the station).
However in July, American College launched an investigation right into a senior managing editor blamed by some staffers for the departures of ladies of coloration, the Current reported. Jeffrey Katz stepped down as WAMU’s information director, with DCist editor in chief Sadon filling in on an interim foundation. (Katz is now a senior editor.)
“The previous few weeks have caused many troublesome conversations and moments of introspection and self-reflection for us as a media group,” interim content material officer Monna Kashfi wrote in a memo saying the reorganization, reported by Washingtonian. “It was very clear that modifications are wanted to deal with the tensions and damaged methods which have been a supply of stress within the newsroom for a very long time.”
Then got here the DCist report. In a memo to workers, Yore wrote he was “saddened” to “be taught the extent to which workers felt uncomfortable” with Di Caro’s conduct and acknowledged that the complaints “occurred on my watch.”
Di Caro, who resigned from WAMU in 2018, is a contractor for Bloomberg Radio. The corporate briefly suspended him in early July after the misconduct allegations first appeared on Twitter. “We carried out a evaluate and didn’t discover any allegation or occasion of wrongdoing throughout his time with us,” a Bloomberg spokesperson stated.
He has since been reinstated.