Al Giordano’s Last Nag of the Zeroes

By Al Giordano

Ten Years of Narco News: Before... and After (Photos: Paul Shoul and Kym Register.)


Kind Reader:

Ten years ago – at the beginning of this decade that will forevermore be known as “the zeroes” – in April of 2000, a marginalized ex-journalist waded back in to his craft and posted his new work onto the Internet via a dial-up connection from his bunker in a small indigenous town in Mexico.

He had been investigating the international drug trade. None of the newspapers and magazines that he had written for years prior would publish his story. So with the help of a $4,000 grant from the Angelica Foundation he bought his first laptop, and a domain name – – upon which to post it. He never imagined that this tiny act of rebellion would last beyond the particular series of stories he was writing.

Four months later, he and this website found themselves as defendants in a lawsuit filed against them by the wealthiest banker in Mexico and his bank. The commotion and attention to that New York Supreme Court case – the first major court test of press freedom on the Internet - brought tens of thousands more readers to this little corner of the Internet to see what the fuss was all about. Maybe you were among them. They, and you, liked what you saw, and kept coming back for more.

He asked you for help with its defense, and many of you stepped forward with donations. And with them, The Little Website That Could was able to defeat the narco-bankers and in the same moment win a landmark legal precedent establishing First Amendment protections for its journalists, by name, and for all Internet journalists by extension.

A decade flies by when you’re havin’ fun, and early in 2010 we’ll invite you to Narco News’ Tenth Anniversary Gala Celebration to be held next April in New York City. Stay tuned for details.

By now you know that this self-marginalized ex-journalist, once washed up and “retired” at the age of 39, was yours truly. And over the past ten years I’ve had the good fortune of spending them – about to become one-fifth of all my years on earth (I turn 50 on Thursday, a milestone that nobody can be very enthusiastic about until we consider the alternative of not surviving to become an antique) – alongside the support of thousands of readers and hundreds of collaborators.

I came back to this craft because there was work to be done that nobody else was doing, because journalism still had a worthwhile calling that needed to rise again, and quickly I found a new generation of younger (and some elder) journalists who were likewise fed up with the routine of simulation that had come to define the commercial media.

We’ve also suffered losses over this decade. Some who began this long march with us are no longer living today. I think of them daily and the memory of them guides us at every step. I know how pleased they would be to see their legacies carried on by the 31 authentic journalism scholars from all the earth's continents and a larger number of professors – many whom graduated in earlier years - that will be joining us in Mexico in February 2010 for the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism.

I promise that this will be my last nag of the decade soon to be known as the zeroes.

This hemisphere and its peoples – in part because of your support – ends this decade in better shape than we began it.

We’re three-quarters of the way to our fundraising goal for this season. Somehow I doubt that we’ll make it before the decade is done, but - with your help - it shouldn't take much longer. In lieu of candles and cake, give it a little push now, okay?

And remember, if you give before midnight on Thursday, December 31, you can deduct the full amount of your contribution from your 2009 taxable income.

We try to make it real easy for ya. Just click this link, and donate, right now, online:

Or send a check to:

The Fund for Authentic Journalism

PO Box 241

Natick, MA 01760

One final thought in 2009 for those of you who have been besieged (as I have) by appeals from other worthy organizations and causes in these final days of the zeroes:

Ask yourself:

  1. Which of those appeals has demonstrably accomplished more, and with less, frugally and strategically, over the past year, and over the past ten years?
  2. Which is doing the better job of investing your next contribution in real people, in a next generation to carry on the work you support and to multiply its impact in the years to come?
  3. Which is visibly and successfully changing how journalism is defined in our lifetimes, and transforming the very concept for the better?

I’ll add that with all your contributions over the past decade, I chose to spend them on the work, on publishing thousands of original investigative reports, and to recruit, scout, train and invest in a new generation of authentic journalists.

During this decade of Narco News I did not become a homeowner. I did not buy a car. I did not purchase health insurance. I don’t have any of those things, or anything else of great material value, and I couldn't be happier about it.

How is it that a guy – who basically doesn’t care about money for himself – pens so many fund appeals over ten years? It’s that I've never asked you to enrich my pockets. Your support goes for something much more important.

What I do have, thanks to your collaboration and support, is a treasure of far greater value: the privilege of holding the future in my hands, which I share freely with our collaborators, with the next generation, and with you.

From somewhere in a country called América, and looking forward to seeing you and collaborating with you in 2010 and throughout the the next ten years, the second decade of the Narco News era of journalism...

Your colleague, friend and eternal ally,





I thought it was a different word

English slang for cigarette and you were telling us you were smoking your last one! lol. not the case.  But I do hope you get tons of coins - I sent a few the other day. 

I would love for you to write about the agenda Obama should pursue and what his strategy needs to be in his second year.  I have a feeling it's going to be smoother since bipartisanship is clearly not in the cards and removing that expectation will improve their strategy. 

 Thanks Al!

@ Catherine

Catherine - Well, it's true that around 11:59 p.m. on Thursday I'll be smoking my last fag of the zeroes... But a nag is something else: When I nag our readers to consider being generous once more.

And thanks for your generosity, Catherine, too. Warmest regards and I wish you the best of 2010s!

Thank you Al for your sane

Thank you Al for your sane perspective on the health care debate.  I was so busy last week, interviewing for a new job to replace the one I am losing and deflecting gloomsayers, that I almost forgot to celebrate how far health care has come.  Now I look forward to asking my representatives and senators to improve the bill in conference (if possible).  :)

I appreciate the work that you and your team do.  I made a small donation for support.  I wish it were more....  but it's been a crazy year at work with the looming merger and then my whole department elimnated.  But I am grateful that I have some time to look and that there are opportunities near me.

Have a prosperous New Year!

Oh hell...

Answered your questions, and even though I told myself "no mas" here or any of the few other places I help out, I can do another $30.

Oh, and Happy Birfday new year's eve baby (musta been wild with that birthday and growing up in NYC...)!  Age is just state of mind anyway....

Congratulations on 10 years of Authentic Journalism

I hope you will be able to afford health insurance soon.

Congratulations, Al

And all your collaborators. I've been following you since the beginning, and I always appreciate the excellent work you and your associates do. It's a blessing to all of us, and evidence of your big brass ones....

Keep it up!

Happy Birthday to both of you

Ask yourself:

  1. Which of those appeals has demonstrably accomplished more, and with less, frugally and strategically, over the past year, and over the past ten years?

Exactly.  There are only 2 organizations that I have set up sustaining monthly contributions to - NarcoNews and the ACLU, with the lyons share going to NarcoNews.  Both organizations actually "do" measurable things, not just lobby.

I first became aware of this website when, if my memory is correct it was 2002 and I stumbled on the story titled "Three Days That Shook The World".  I remember coming home from work and pulling up the website to see what had happened.  I was amazed to read the NYT story juxtaposed with a much different story that was coming out of Venezuela in real time.

I had a similar media experience in Seattle 1999 at the WTO demonstrations when Indymedia was born at a run down building on Maynard street in Seattle.  Someone had set up a bunch of computers and anyone could wander in and file a story.  I remember the same disconnect from the early mainstream news stories downplaying the size and scope of the demonstrations and what I was reading on Indymedia.  It wasn't until Wednesday, the 3rd day of the demonstrations that any of the national news networks had reporters on the ground in Seattle and by that time they were chasing Indymedia's story line.



Al, felicidades and happy birthdays. Many many returns.

When will we be seeing you in San Cris?

Keep Nagging Al, we need you

"I don't even mind his or other people's crusading on it. In fact, I don't like the FISA legislation, but I'm smart enough not to blame it on the new liberal "daddy figure" that a certain sector of infantile progressives project upon any Democratic nominee for president of the United States, this year being no exception. That hasn't been a topic (until now, thanks to Glenn's ham-handed approach to throwing his perceived weight around with another journalist) on this blog. At some point soon, Congress will vote one way or another, and life will continue, as will the struggle for freedom in a world where governments no longer guarantee it."

I was going backwards looking for your post regarding what you saw ahead for the Obama Administration, and I saw this. It seems to sum up for me just what's going on with the herbalteabaggers these days. Nobody who has a more grownup idea of what a President can and can't do takes those stances. We know change takes time and often has to be made in increments. And Obama is taking an approach not seen in a long time-trusting people are competent enough to handle the responsibility he's given them. Refusing to be a Drama King, handling problems with the amount of urgency they deserve. People aren't used to competence and trusting people can do their jobs at the same time.

I will send something out of an unexpected windfall to your site. Not a whole lot, but something.


Personally, I would not have minded if you got a house and a car and health insurance out of this money. It's one thing to make out like a bandit, another to live self-sufficently so that you don't have to worry about the whims of a patron or shutting down every month. It's a bad thing that's been done to Prosperity: it's handling my snake handler preachers. Prosperity is a multi-definitional thing: for some it's making enough to live with dignity and meet one's obligations: another it's all me, me, me.


CarolDuhart:  Like that!  And I drink herbal teas too!  I was wondering what to call this "Liberal"-teabagger alliance also, and thought "teapouters" could work too...mebaggers?

Thanks for that quote, and reminder that places like here need our financial support, or they go away or get greatly reduced.

I like them both

I like both "herbalteabaggers" and "teapouters" but I want to stick a hyphen in "herbalteabaggers" or perhaps make it two words.

There do seem to be indications that both movements will prove to be the proverbial "tempest in a tea pot".


Yes, herbalteabaggers

The liberal answer to the right teabaggers. Both whiny, disorganized, and more likely to sabotage the side they are on. I've been around long enough to see this before. The kids in the 1960's who rioted and preached revolution, undermining a legitimate anti-war movement and several movements for social change by giving a legitimate veneer to Nixons's repression and the backlash that followed. The anarchists who later made it possible to take real discussion of globalization off the table for far too long.

We've already seen the right teabaggers in action-giving up a crucial house seat in NY-23 because the Republican nominee was "too liberal". The House version of health care passed by 2 votes. Dede Scozzafava would, despite being "liberal" have voted with her party. Thanks to Glen Beck and Sarah Palin, that seat wound up in the hands of a Democrat. Thanks, teabaggers. We'll get health care because of you.

They have a common belief that if they act up enough, the candidate will move to the right-or left, as it may be. Since this influence is not done during the time when it really counts-the previous year when party officers are selecting people to run, or by working with somebody who's already planning to run, what happens is the poutrage usually elects someone from the other party-dividing the party during the election. Also, candidates tend to move toward gettable moderates in order to make up for alienated party members-making policy even more liberal or more conservative, as may be.

my antidote

Happy Birthday Al!  My son turned 8 today, and I made a donation in his honor for $25 to your fund for authentic journalism.  It is my sincere hope he can find your brand of logical, well reasoned, "real" journalism alive and well as he grows into a world traveler via his mind and the intertubes.  You've served as antidote to the crazies & chicken littles on both sides of the aisle this year for many of us.  Well done, and many thanks!  Keep up the good work....


Happy Birthday, Al! You're a star.

Happy Birthday Amigo!

 Wish it could have been a more. Keep doing what you do best!!


Almost there!

About $250 left to reach the goal!  I can't think of a better present for Al on his birthday, and for the world, to get him over the goal in the next hour or two.  Anyone?

Love your work, Al.

I've been depending on your thoughtful, incisive analysis to keep myself motivated and hopeful. Thank you so, so much!

Good Job, Al

I followed you obsessively in 2008, and you were a lifesaver this year when every other liberal blog seemed to have lost their minds.  The same thing happened in the past month, and I wondered whether I had anything in common with these people at all.  Then you posted everything I was waiting for someone to say with regards to health care, and I knew that despite all the netroots poutrage, I will look back on these months with great pride.

I've seen that you are very close to meeting the yearly goal, and I've donated $100 to help.  May next year have even more quality, authentic journalism as you've made sure this one has.

Love This Site

I would like to than Al and the copublishers of this wnderful site, as well as those that provide some very interesting commentary.


I am a long time lurker, usually I hang out over at the Orange Order, but since my roomate lost posting privileges for daring to agree with a comment against Jane Hamsher, I have decided that both of us should become members of this site.

I believe we should join not because of the new blantant censorship at the other site, but because we both have remanied active since the election. We've continued to go door to door, we've continued to organize and we've work with OFA as well. I believe this site appreciates people like us more than any of the other popoular blogs.

So here we come. It'll take my roomate more time as he's been over at that opther site since it's inception and he's still smarting from his spanking for uprating a comment..not writing it. I look forward to engaging with folks here and continung to learn things from the commenters here, and of course, Al.

A true999

You and your friend will like it here.  I don't know if you were "lurking" back in 2008 when Al showed us how to organize and go about attacking the anti-Obama AP Washington DC bureau chief, Fornier.  It was truly awesome and we were able to see concrete results of our efforts.  It is so much better than tiresome "aint it awful" posts that only serve to debilitate the left and make us feel powerless and despairing.  We don't need to involve ourselves with such chronic whiners.  We don't have to "win" all our efforts but you do have to see some movement and a few wins to keep slogging in the trenches.

There are some truly talented people here amongst the commenters, the school teachers and the Class of 2010.

I didn't think we would make our goal of 40,000 by the end of the year but we did.  I'm just thrilled.  We had some losses in 2009 with respect to Honduras and Iran being works in progress but we also had some wins like the health care bill.  I'm also beginning to appreciate the bullets dodged.  Yes we're still in Afghanistan and Iraq but the U.S. has not bombed Iran, which would be a total disaster, despite literally years of open agitation for such an action from the same people that orchestrated Iraq/Afghanistan and the Christmas bomber failed.

@ true999, @ Nancy Chester

@ true999:  Thanks for the post!  Al and Prez. Barack are excellent community organizers.  Al's read of the campaign gave solid advice to people like me, as we weathered the crazy chicken-little shit together.

In April, 2009, I attended the "Organizing the President" conference in Rowe, MA.  I also had the great pleasure of attending the 9th Anniversary Party for Narconews in NYC.  I love the technology that brings us together here in the Sphere, but nothing, in my opinion beats face to face, gathered in a place, music and dancing conference/party with Al as your host.

@ Nancy Chester:  I could not say it any and your friends will like it here!

Congrats and thanks to all who gave to the Fund for Authentic Journalism!


Hack v hack (2010 edition)

Just in time to kick off the new year:

Harold Ford Jr. Weighs a Challenge to Gillibrand

money quote: "Ms. Gillibrand was appointed by Gov. David A. Paterson last year to fill the seat Mrs. Clinton vacated, in a selection process that was criticized as haphazard and bumbling."

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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