Friday, September 12, 2014
In the latest The Field, an occasional column written by Narco News founder Al Giordano and published on the Narco news site, Giordano tells the story of his friendship with the late investigative journalist Gary Webb. In 1996, Webb wrote an investigative series on CIA cocaine trafficking for the San Jose Mercury News. His Dark Alliance series was a first for the Mercury News, going out of its way to post the series on the Internet, along with his interviews and notes.
From Giordano's perspective, this is the story that made Internet journalism what it is today, and I'd add that along with Giordano's work, can continue to offer a light to show us where this whole new journalism world is going and should go. It's a road map that we know is there, but often we ignore it, thinking the same old thing is going to work.
The old media's reaction to the story is what Giordano handily reexamines in his column—a push was felt by Webb's Mercury-News editors at the time. The stories were taken down and those who sought to discredit the reporter, including The New York Times, won. Webb eventually resigned from the paper and in 2004 committed suicide.
But before that, there was Giordano's own lawsuit. (Hopefully you guys and gals at the journalism department are learning about Giordano's victory in 2001 when the New York State Supreme Court dismissed the National Bank of Mexico's lawsuit against Narco News, establishing that Internet journalists have the same rights as the old boys, like at The New York Times.) Webb was a part of that victory, helping raise funds for Narco News. Then he and Giordano started the School of Authentic Journalism, a project I'm still proud I got to experience, receiving a swift journalism kick in the ass.