We Have More to Do Together

By Al Giordano

Poster made for the 2010 Narco News J-school by Ellen Fields. Photo DR 2010 Mariana Simoes.

They say it’s the quiet ones who will get ya. If you’ve been around this page enough you know that when I’ve been quiet for a spell it indicates that there’s been a lot churning behind this screen, all in preparation to bring something special back to you. And before these words are done, you’ll be the recipient of some exciting news, indeed. But first, hear me out, because we need your collaboration to make it happen.

Regular readers of Narco News have been able to follow, in recent days and weeks, the Mexican town of Atenco’s struggle against what may be a government plan to resurrect the international airport project that the locals defeated in 2002, and follow the gathering of “Other Campaign” participants last weekend in that town, and of two other towns that prevented Walmart from building stores there. You also now know how the people of Tepoztlán organized to expel their police chief, and about farmworkers’s victories on both sides of the border.

Most of those stories - all important, all worthwhile - weren't reported by any other publication. This is the only place where all of them appeared.

You also know about the continued boom in herbicidal fumigation of coca crops in Colombia, and the true facts about Ecuador’s indigenous movements and their ongoing struggle against hostile governments from the right and from the left. You know these things because in recent weeks, Narco News School of Authentic Journalism graduates Fernando Leon and Erin Rosa have investigated and reported them to you. As it was with Joe Hill, where people organize, fight and win against powerful interests, it’s there you’ll find Narco News. In fact, through our reports, it’s there you’ll find yourself... and a mirror to your own daily struggles from which we all learn to be faster, better and more coherent at righting the wrongs all around us.

Meanwhile, investigative reporter Bill Conroy continues breaking story after story that expose the US-imposed “war on drugs” and he drives the official censors crazy with Freedom of Information Act requests and dogged persistence. And when I’m not bailing water and plugging leaks to keep this ship of authentic journalism afloat, I hope that my writings and reports, as well as those of all our other participants, have likewise been of value to you.

But the time has come when I need to ask you again for the favor of your participation and support, because we’ve been bailing water too much lately and that sometimes slows down the voyage.

Daily, from every continent, in different languages, people come to these pages to know a little bit more about events and news that other media don’t report. And supporters from every continent have donated over the past ten years to make it possible for us to keep doing it. Today I have a special request of our readers and supporters in the United States: We held back this autumn from asking for your donations because we knew so many of you were putting your all into Proposition 19 in California and other important November elections and community organizing efforts. Sometimes when we’re not asking, it’s not because we don’t have a need: it’s because we respect that others may have needed your time and resources more at that moment.

But now we are in real need:
 

-    We’ve been working without a webmaster since September 24 because the previous one left unannounced for greener pastures before we could hire a new one, and we haven’t had the funds to be able to bring anyone new on board. Meanwhile, technical glitches and problems are beginning to impede our ability to keep this online newspaper up and running to bring so much real news to you.

-    We are various months late in our payments to our Internet service provider, to which we owe $129 a month.

-    We have two full-time reporters to whom we provide modest monthly stipends and who give their all, every day and night, to this work.

-    We went two thousand dollars in debt over the summer (when fundraising is difficult to impossible) to be able to meet all our obligations.

You’re probably scratching your head and thinking, “$129 bucks? Stipends? A couple thousand dollars for a summer full of hard-hitting journalism? That’s nothing!” And it is almost nothing compared to the resources that other news organizations and projects eat up to accomplish far less. But we’re not in this for the money. And we’ve learned to live close to the land in order to give you the most for the least. We’re in this because we have a mission: to break the information blockades and usher in the authentic journalism renaissance.

And we’re doing quite well at that mission, but we need a booster shot right now.

Please pull out your bank or credit card and make whatever donation you can afford, today, right now if you can, to The Fund for Authentic Journalism to support the work of Narco News. You can do that online by clicking this link:

http://www.authenticjournalism.org

Or you can mail a check to:

The Fund for Authentic Journalism
P.O. Box 1446
Easthampton, MA 01027 USA


Do you know that the hardest part of this wonderful work is having to ask you for your help? We know you have your own daily struggles, too. But many small contributions – plus a few larger ones, when possible – have always added up to keep this ship a’ sail.

Now, with that part out of the way, we do have an exciting announcement to make:

The next School of Authentic Journalism will be held in May 2011 in Mexico City and its mountain regions. Our friends at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, who supported the 2010 j-school last February on the Yucatán Peninsula, are ready to support us to create 40 scholarships in authentic journalism, the largest Narco News j-school ever. But to be in the position to accept that support, we have to demonstrate, as always, that we also stand on our own two feet and are self-sufficient as a news organization with enough reader support to continue to be viable at this important work you help us to do.

Starting today, every dollar you contribute to The Fund for Authentic Journalism, up to $20,000, will receive matching support – toward the 2011 j-school and its scholarships – from that organization. We were very pleased with the results of the 2010 school and the work that its graduates are now doing as they report from every corner of the hemisphere and even the world.

So click this link and know that your donation will be doubled:

http://www.authenticjournalism.org

Or mail a check to:

The Fund for Authentic Journalism
P.O. Box 1446
Easthampton, MA 01027 USA


…and that, too, will be matched.

So not only will you, by participating and contributing, keep Narco News reporting, but you’ll pave the way to scout, recruit, select and train forty more talents of conscience to unleash upon this world and all the unreported stories in it.

In fact, we're pretty sure you know somebody who should apply for the 2011 School of Authentic Journalism. So start working on 'em while keeping an eye on these pages for upcoming information about how to receive an application.

Everybody complains about “the media.” And they’re right to do so. We do it every day. But what other news organization or journalism school is doing anything to change it from below by mounting a global army of authentic journalists to do even more of the work that you come to these pages to read?

This is your project. Every day, for more than ten years, it has been for you and for the people whose struggles we report that we have had good reason to exist.

Let’s keep a good thing going.

Have you made your donation yet?

Oh, good. Because now I have something else to show you!

From somewhere in a country called Europe, via the online publication Open Democracy, today I publish what others might call the theoretical and practical underpinnings of the authentic journalism renaissance:

Authentic Journalism: Weapon of the People

For the first seven years of Narco News, we reported mainly from Latin America and along the US-Mexico border. In 2007 and 2008, I turned my pen back toward the United States (all the while maintaining our unparalleled coverage from Latin America) and a new generation of readers - Field Hands! - joined those already here. The year 2010 brought with it definitive lessons about how the mass media disfigures democracy, and we have the unique and innovative plan to combat them.

With this one small push from enough of you right now, we can set the stage for the authentic journalism movement to go global, and, again, without dropping the ball in this hemisphere one iota. At the May 2011 School of Authentic Journalism, we hope to find about ten outstanding talents of conscience from Africa, Asia, Europe and all corners of this earth with whom to join forces in this hemispheric - soon to be worldwide - project of mutual aid among real independent journalists and communicators, and bring them to Mexico, too.

I’ll have a rapid-fire series of related announcements in the coming days and weeks, but first we need $129 to pay our Internet rent, some months of back rent, a couple of monthly stipends for our terrific hard-working reporters, a new webmaster and a stipend for him or her, and to pay off a small debt. And to think, every cent and peso of it will be matched to begin our grand march around the globe to make this renaissance truly worldwide. It doesn’t take much. It never has. But it does take a little.

Thank you so much for your continued support. We have so much more work to do together.

From somewhere in a country called América,

Al

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About Al Giordano

Biography

Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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