The Narco News team often calls its project an “online newspaper.” Isn’t that strange? After all, newspapers are dying. Young people like me don’t read them. Newspapers are going out of business left and right. The circulation of major national papers is down across the board.
Why associate your ground-breaking, independent blogging and reporting website with the stodgy, outdated newspaper model? Why not use a “new media” buzzword, something more attention-getting and edgy? “Online newspaper” sounds boring.
Boring-sounding they may be, those two words happen to describe this digital container for authentic journalism perfectly. The Narco News Bulletin is what a newspaper should be – online. For years newspaper publishers and journalists have complained that the Internet’s bloggers, news aggregators, and abundance of free content are destroying their industry – note the word “industry.” As this site’s publisher has noted, most newspapers fatally wounded themselves by becoming pieces of corporate conglomerates, reliant and partial to their advertisers, ready to downsize for greater profits at a moment’s notice. Blogs have not displaced the highly-valued, deep investigative pieces for which newspapers were known. It’s just that those articles have been increasingly crowded out by advertisements and rote establishment-view “objective” reporting. Newspapers made themselves boring.
Narco News is a high-strength concentration of the stuff that made some newspapers exciting. It’s appropriate that its writers don’t constantly use the “new media” buzzwords of which many high-profile bloggers, who remain inconsequential to offline real-world communities, are so fond. This site is chock full of concrete, investigative journalism with a critical focus on political struggles and the Drug War in Latin America. There isn’t a single advertisement and little question of its independence. Publisher Al Giordano’s blog, The Field, has for almost two years now combined a unique brand of righteous, incisive analysis with a relentless, experience-based insistence on the power of community organizing.
So long live newspapers! Let the paper- and ad-based ones go by the wayside. Narco News represents a sustainable, next-generation newspaper. That might sound tacky, but people all over the world – even we famously newspaper-hostile youth – recognize that hugely important fact. That’s why applications from across the continents are pouring into the 2010 School for Authentic Journalism. That’s why I sent my application in last month from my new place here in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The ten-day intensive training by authentic journalists from around the hemisphere is designed to produce reporters well-versed in social media, online reporting, documentary filmmaking, and investigative journalism. Independent and Spanish-speaking journalists who produced videos delving beneath the surface of the crisis in Honduras, worth more in the truths they impart than a dozen mainstream newspaper articles, for example, will share their knowledge with students.
Speaking of which, if there’s one thing Narco News is severely lacking in its reporting, it’s audio-visual multimedia. I’d bet on that changing once the 2010 School of Authentic Journalism graduates start reporting for the site. But for the moment, it’s okay. After all, Narco News is just an “online newspaper” – one that relies entirely on the goodwill and robust financial support of its readers, not advertisers.
You can donate online to support Narco News, the Narcosphere, and the School of Authentic Journalism at the following link. As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, your contributions to The Fund for Authentic Journalism are tax-deductible in the US, and right now every dollar you donate will be doubled by matching support from the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.
Or you can send a check to:
The Fund for Authentic Journalism
PO Box 241
Natick, MA 01760 USA
School of Authentic Journalism, Class of 2010
Re-published from Narco News.