Thursday, May 03, 2018
You Don't Have to Burn A (Wild Horse) Book to Censor It
I've never laid my life on the line for a story, and it's coincidence that the most recent
"Of course you didn't interview BLM about wild horses" remark came on World Press Freedom Day.
The reader was talking about Wild at Heart: Mustangs and the Young People
Fighting to Save Them,
my non-fiction book published by Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt. The book's credibility has been honored without BLM. It's a Junior Library Guild selection, winner of the Sterling North Heritage award
for Excellence in Children's Literature and has been honored by Western Writers
of America, National Science Teachers Association and American Association for
the Advancement of Science.
nearly a year, I negotiated and nagged for interviews about BLM's wild
horse and burro program. Didn't happen. But it's important to me that you see how it didn't happen.
My last correspondence before the publication of this book is posted below.
Gorey, Senior Public Affairs Specialist July
of Land Management
C. Street NW
As you know, I’m writing Wild at Heart:
Mustangs and the Young People Fighting to Save Them for
Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt. This non-fiction book for young readers will be
published in Fall 2015.
In January of this year, Lisa Ross at
BLM’s Carson City office told me that all on-the-record responses must go
through you. I’ve contacted many BLM staffers since then, but received no
official statements. A partial list:
1/23/14: E-mail to
Tom Gorey, introducing project, asking for interview; he said he’d have to
check with wild horse and burro staff.
2/3/14: E-mail to Gorey
2/4/14: E-mail from Gorey
indicating response is in the works; e-mail from Jeff Krauss asking for
questions in writing and “don’t hesitate to call” invitation
questions to Krauss
requesting update from Krauss
Farlow, photojournalist working on the project, contacts Krauss since they’ve worked
together in past. Krauss responds
quickly but with no answers.
3/19/14: E-mail to
Krauss requesting follow-up to written questions
4/11/14: E-mail and
phone requests to Gorey and Krauss repeating offer to let them cherry-pick the
questions they wish to answer.
4/25/14: Phone calls
to former BLM staffers to ask about possible sources of information are met with enthusiasm. They, too, are told no current
staffers are authorized to speak.
5/5/14: Phone and e-mail
to Jeff Fontana, BLM California, and Lisa Reid, BLM Utah. Neither receives
authorization to answer questions.
5/5/14: Gorey e-mails
that he will respond to my voicemail request for update, copies Krauss. No
answers. Last contact with Gorey and Krauss
6/3-4/14: After phone
conversations, Debbie Collins asks for a brief history of e-mail exchanges with
BLM staff and list of questions. These are supplied. Last contact with Collins.
6/4/14: Fontana e-mails positive BLM news story from
2006. Last contact.
My publisher has
pushed back Wild at Heart’s due date
to give BLM more time to respond, but we’ve bent as far as we can. If I hear
nothing by Aug. 1, 2014, we’ll reluctantly publish without comments from your
CC: Neil Kornze, Director of
Before Wild At Heart, I'd had a conflicted but cordial relationship with BLM staffers, but now it's routine for government agencies to spurn or stonewall the press and public.
That's not safe.
Attention must be paid, even if what you hear is silence.
Labels: BLM, Bureau of Land Management, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Junior Library Guild, mustangs, National ScienceTeachers Association, Western Writers of America, Wild at Heart, wild horses, World Press Freedom Day
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Terri Farley @ 12:50 PM