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  Articles & Essays: The War in Journalism

In American journalism, there is Mainstream Journalism and there is Internet Journalism, and they agree on nothing.
By Stewart Nusbaumer

It was a difficult decision -- go to the protest in Washington or stay at home in New York? Cindy Sheehan protests are always interesting, and certainly important. Yet, nearly every newspaper in the country will cover her arrest in front of the White House, so why should I? I decide not to go.

Thirty minutes later I'm on a downtown-bound subway train headed for the bus station and, of course, Washington. With a quick wave of the hand and a growl in the throat, the bus driver excuses my 40 percent discount for a complete discount -- only in New York does a nasty growl from a driver mean a free ride on his bus.

Grace Slick screams into my i-poded ears: "when logic and proportion have fallen...." True, logic has crashed in our confused America, but in New York logic remains strong. It just never seems logical.

As the bus pulls out of the Port Authority, the sun still sleeps, passengers are barely awake, city streets are nearly empty, yet Jim Beam is wide-awake. That is, in seat 17. Here proportionality runs heavy. Roaring down pre-dawn New Jersey Turnpike, the Jefferson Airplane blasts: "You are the crown of creation, and you got no place to go."

But I do have someplace to go. I'm going to America's antiwar crown of creation, Cindy Sheehan, who single handily revitalized the protest movement, who jolted a sleeping nation....

The bus is 18 minutes late and my connecting bus has left! We departed New York 10 minutes late, the driver was preoccupied with feeding his evolving lung cancer, and he lost another eight minutes en route. The next bus is in 3 hours, 45 minutes. That's too late for the crown-of-creation protest in Washington.

A nasty argument breaks out between me and the driver:

"And you give me a hard time?" the bus driver taunts, insisting I'm ungrateful for his gift of a free ride.

"Do your job, and I won't complain," I hiss as I rip a $10 bill out of my wallet and throw it at him, "There's your fare!"

The security guard is called, a flabby young man who wants nothing to do with this squabble, but must.

"I'll remember your face," the driver screams as I'm led off.

"Get here on time, moron" I yell back.

I'm placed on a bus returning to New York. As we pull away from the crime scene, I think: "Well, it doesn't really matter. Nearly every newspaper in the country will cover the protest."

Two Journalisms

There is more to being an Internet Journalist -- IJ, we professionals call ourselves -- than being plastered at six in the morning and calling bus drivers morons, although some believe that is an important part. The Mainstream Media (MSM) disagrees strongly. It believes decorum is important. It insists emotional outbursts are uncivilized. It says creative thinking is a no-no. It preaches viewpoints must remain separate from facts -- wait, how is that possible? Maybe that is possible because MSM journalists don't ride New Jersey buses.

Modes of transportation carry not only bodies, but also minds and emotions. For journalists, transportation helps prioritize subject matter, shape thinking, and encourage moral positions. Road rage comes from endless traffic jams in private vehicles; bus rage comes from New Jersey Transit. Rage today is the substance of America. MSM journalists don’t experience enough American substance.

Internet Journalists and MSM Journalists utilize different logics and have different perspectives; they see eye-to-eye on, well, nothing. For instance, when we write about the rapidly rising cost of liquor, a serious national security threat, they write about something called "rising gasoline prices." This does not mean MSM journalists are always wrong, but it does mean they are ill-equipped to deal with reality.

As in real estate, what is most important in journalism is location, location, location. Travel is important, but where you travel to is even more important. If you have read any of my articles, you know my location is often a bar. This is because barflies are in bars -- bars being, of course, another no-no for the MSM journalists addicted to sobriety.

But truth is seldom found in the smorgasbord of pompous post-graduate-degreed experts, who are mostly clueless about the difference between Jack Daniels and Margarita Sue, and never found in a president of the United States and his entourage of slick spin masters. But MSM journalists keep returning to those same old dry wells, churning out the same old dry stories, and leaving our minds dehydrated and panting for substance.

In terms of epistemology, the Internet gang prefers truth, while Mainstream J-school grads prefer facts. Instead of hanging around bar stools, Mainstream boys and girls hang around the White House and the Pentagon, and the Governor's office, where they collect lots of facts. But crooked sources give crooked facts -- now that's a brilliant insight! -- whereas buying Tony a beer in the West End Bar gives you immediate truth, at least Tony's truth, which is quantum more truth than what is peddled as the truth today.

A MSM journalist recently traveled to the Midwest where he discovered heavy boozing and a lot of drug taking. With a ton of facts and some choice quotes to support the facts, he wrote about moral decay in the heartland of America. On the other hand, IJs take heavy boozing and drug taking for granted -- the sun rises in the east, and sometimes we fall before noon. When in the Midwest, it's not surprising that we are blind to the moral horror of drink and weed in jackrabbit land.

But Internet Journalists stumble upon other stories. Such as, the scarcity of jobs in Midwest small towns that pays more that $2 an hour. That's less than one beer an hour! Such as, the brutal death of the American Dream smack in the heartland of America. Such as, the locals stampeding out of town like a gang of skittish cokeheads for the promise of ghetto Detroit.

Finally, Internet Journalists are furiously patriotic. We sleep with the U.S. Constitution, and when awake rant endlessly about our faulting democracy. We read Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine continuously. We are a motley group of attack dogs riding high in the cyber saddle of a crusade to devour the corrupt fat cats of America. Morality is what fires our roaring engines.

So we know how to travel, we know where to go, we know what truth looks like, we know what is right, and we are on one passionate mission to save our battered and fleeced nation. On the other hand, Mainstream journalists find facts.

A New Morning

Outside my apartment window, the night's darkness is being slowly swallowed by the early morning light. On the horizon is a sharp yellow, above is a mellow blue, yet the buildings of New York remain shrouded in pitch black. It's an eerie time, with time seemingly uncertain whether it is night or day. Like yesterday morning when I was uncertain whether to remain in my cozy apartment or go to the antiwar protest. For time, the sun will rise and bring the day, for me the bus ignored time and I missed the protest.

I console myself: It doesn't really matter. Nearly every newspaper in the country covered the protest. And on my computer screen, Google Search says the number of articles is "about 1,200 for Cindy Sheehan arrested." I take two aspirins for my brutally throbbing head, and begin reading the morning news, clicking through dozens of articles:

Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan was one of 26 people arrested ... after protesters arranged themselves in rows on the sidewalk in front of the White House ... more than 100 other protestors held candles and called for ... "We need to bring our troops home," stated the 36 year-old ... protesters chanted: "The whole world is watching" ... counter-demonstrator Adam Dabney told reporters: "When it turns into a politicized event to ... "Sheehan and the others have been taken to a processing center to be fingerprinted and photographed ....

It's good to read the facts, it's very good. Sometimes we underestimate the importance of facts. But nearly all the time the Mainstream Media ignores the need for more than facts. I want to hear the emotion. I want to feel the outrage. This is an immoral, unjust and unnecessary war! I want to read the truth.

Stewart Nusbaumer is editor of Intervention Magazine. You can email Stewart at

Posted Tuesday, November 1, 2005


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