My pal John Anderson — former editor of the Radio/Pirate Radio page at About.com — e-mailed me with some comments on last week’s Washington Post article about IMC journalists covering the A20 protests. Overall, he doesn’t think I’m being critical enough of the Post, and then registers the most incisive critique of this article that I’ve heard so far. John writes, “Wow, it is amazing how two people can read the same thing and come away with completely different interpretations. I was pissed off in a big-ass way with the Post’s piece.” He then details a few choice quotes that exemplify what bothers him about the article.
Although I don’t think article isn’t openly hostile to Indymedia, what John sees is that “selective quotes and the not-so-subtle condescending tone spoke volumes about where the author, David Montgomery, is coming from. I don’t think I’ve seen such a stinky piece o’journalism since CNN did a ‘Indymedia replacing us? yeah, right’ kind of piece during the A16 activity” last year. In a second e-mail John explains that he might be a little sensitive since he used to be a mainstream journalist for a commercial radio network, and so now he says that “I relish the critic’s role now that I’ve left the fold, so to speak. I do have to admit that I’m gunning for them, ready to pounce when I see the snarkiness come to the surface in large amounts.”
But beyond just the tone that the mainstream media takes when reporting on Indymedia, what worries John is that Indymedia journalists themselves are often surprisingly uncritical of such articles. He elborates that “It’s kind of a cart-before-the-horse situation, in a sense – many of us realize the “wrongness” in the corporate media, and jump right to the citizen-journalist role without doing enough to keep developing our own media literacy/critical thinking skills. I think that we should not only tell our stories in the light we want to see them in, but we should also continually confront and critique what comes out of the corporate media as well – and teach others the abilities we often take for granted. I guess I see IMCs as having a dual role: supplementing the coverage of unreported and under-reported stories while also spotting the bullshit of the corporate media and calling them on it, explaining how and why it is bullshit.”
But don’t take my selective quotes for it — John gave me permission to let you read our exchange yourself.
I can’t say how much I appreciate and enjoy getting feedback and having some dialogue. So, if something I write is stinky, or demands response, please let me know.