Freelance reporter and political activist Ken Krayeske was surprised to learn Thursday that a group he’d considered to be an ally had posted on its blog his personal information and firsthand account of his arrest during the governor’s parade last week.
Krayeske had applied to the Society of Professional Journalists legal defense fund, and had not expected the information in his application to be posted publicly. The information has since been taken down by SPJ’s legal defense committee, but it had remained available for most of the day despite a call from Krayeske to SPJ Legal Defense Fund Chairman Dave Aeikens before he relented.
“I regret putting some of his personal stuff up there,” Aeikens said around 4 p.m. Aeikens, who also is an editor at the St. Cloud Times in Minnesota, returned a call from CTNewsjunkie to report that Krayeske’s application had been removed from public view, and that a summary would be uploaded in its place.
During the time it took Aeikens to decide to take down the application. Krayeske began to set up an online defense fund on his web site. Click here for more information on his independent fundraising effort. While it was available on the SPJ blog, Krayeske’s application received 85 views. Those who came across it could have learned what Krayeske had to eat in jail last Wednesday, his grade point average at the Quinnipiac University Law School, his home address and phone number, and how much his attorney, Norman Pattis, is planning to charge to represent him.
Aeikens said they’ve only had a blog for a couple of months and this was the first grant application they received since the blog originated. He said the organization is committed to openness and as such they had planned on posting all grant applications. Krayeske’s application received five comments. The first comment on the SPJ blog that included Krayeske’s application was from Connecticut blogger Spazeboy, who asked: “Can anyone contribute to the fund? If so, how?”
The next comment was from attorney Patricia Kane, who questioned SPJ’s intention in posting the application. “Your posting of a confidential application looks like a hostile act to me, as well as a violation of Ken’s privacy.”“For a professional group to do this is beyond my understanding. It serves no public purpose and is inappropriate,” she added.
Aeikens responded to Kane’s comment. “No hostility intended. We are taking this request seriously,” Aeikens wrote. “SPJ is an organization based on openness. In addition to believing that government actions should be open we believe our members have a right to know about our organization’s actions, including who is applying for LDF grants and under what circumstances.”
Mike Knaak, another member of the SPJ legal defense fund, replies “As to privacy … are you kidding? Krayeske has stepped into the public debate and is asking for money from an organization that believes in open discussion.” Aeikens said SPJ has appointed a local three-member committee to look into the circumstances surrounding Krayeske’s arrest. He said a local team will submit a report to the legal defense fund committee that will make a determination whether to give Krayeske the funding.
Aeikens said they will be looking at whether Krayeske was acting as a journalist or political activist at the time of the arrest. “His political activism makes this more difficult for us,” Aeikens said. But he added that the SPJs recently gave $30,000 to Josh Wolf.Wolf, the independent journalist and blogger who was jailed when he refused to cooperate with a federal grand jury seeking his testimony and his unpublished video out-takes of a July 2005 anti-G8 demonstration.