Tomorrow on NY Radio We'll Be Dropping a Bomb on Facebook

By Al Giordano

Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 30 at 6 p.m. ET I'm going on the radio in the media capital of the world at the peak of afternoon drive time.

I've been asked to speak for Narco News and the nonprofit Fund for Authentic Journalism, and I'll announce that we're taking our 27,000+ Facebook users to Tsu as our response to Facebook and Instagram owner Mark Zuckerberg banning links to his upstart competitor last weekend.

And I'll invite all of New York City to join us in the exodus to our new social media home.

Just sign up and join via this link. It’s free. In fact it’s even better than free. Tsu is the first social network on the Internet that returns 90 percent of the ad revenues to the people and organizations that generated the content and the traffic. The Fund for Authentic Journalism has already received more than $1,200 in less than five months there. You have to be invited to join and this link serves as your invitation:

It's all going to happen on The Katie Halper Show, which is a popular Big Apple radio program y'all should be listening to anyway. Katie is a 2010 graduate of the School of Authentic Journalism, and has returned each year since as one of its professors. She's a social humorist, stand-up comic and authentic journalist. The Katie Halper show on 99.5 FM WBAI in New York, in her first few months on the air, has quickly become a “must listen” event each Wednesday afternoon.

(That’s Katie and I in the image, from a photo taken at the 2013 School of Authentic Journalism by Laura Garcia.)

Here’s the link through which you can listen live from anywhere in the world Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET:

Also on the show I'll also talk about the newly selected Class of 2015 for the School of Authentic Journalism, and offer some guidance on how to read what is really happening with the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States.

But the latest aggression by the censorious Facebook - banning links to works of authentic journalism on Tsu, even banning the sharing of such links in private conversation via its Messenger chat feature - is typical of a corporation whose consumer market has ceased to grow and begun to implode.

It was only eight years ago that Facebook told users of MySpace and other social media to come over to Facebook where, we were told, we could recruit our friends, where nonprofits like ours could build our networks, and always have direct, immediate access to our readers and supporters. In December 2012 that proved to be a lie, when Facebook imposed an algorithm limiting those views to just five percent of the people we organized and brought together. Facebook then held our own community hostage demanding we purchase advertisements to reach our own people.

The damage has not just been done to nonprofits, but also to artists, writers, musicians, independent journalists and creators of every stripe. The value of their relationship to their audience has been vacuumed up by one mega-monopoly of Facebook-Instagram-Messenger and a few other big social media sites out there. As a result, creative and inventive people are starving and Internet middlemen have made off with the value of their work.

Now when a new, improved social media has appeared in the form of Tsu - one that acts more like an agent or manager used to do, collecting a reasonable 10 percent off the value we all create on its platform - more than five million people have joined Tsu in what is not even yet its first year of existence (it took Facebook 18 months at first to grow to just one million users). As of last week, more than a million people had downloaded the mobile app for Tsu. This scared Facebook and so it not only banned all future links to your and our work on Tsu, it also erased all previous links! Facebook's censorious tantrum is the wail of a dying beast. We hope you will join us at what are now greener - and fairer - pastures, in the glorious valley of Tsu.

For readers, friends and supporters in or near New York City, I’m in town this week also to celebrate Narco News' 15th anniversary with readers, supporters and friends. If you’d like to join the party Saturday evening, send me an email at for an invitation. We'll start at 8 p.m. And if you've attended any of our previous anniversary fetes, you know already it's an amazing, interesting crowd that includes graduates and professors from the School of Authentic Journalism, the best readers in the word, and artists and journalists of accomplishment in their own fields.

We’re holding the party to raise the modest resources we need to get our newsroom up to date, replace its dying laptop, and obtain additional hard drive storage space for our fifteen years of videos, images and stories (hard drives have to be replaced every five years or so or the data begins to disappear).

If you can't make the benefit celebration on Saturday we invite you to contribute from wherever you are to the Fund for Authentic Journalism via this link:

It’s great to be back in the Big Apple, the city where we won expanded press freedom rights for all Internet journalists once before, and are heading into battle this week to do it again.

Start spreadin' the news: In the immortal words of Victor Hugo, "There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come."

How Authentic Journalism Is Retooling Away from the Internet Middlemen

By Al Giordano
Two key things have fueled the authentic journalism renaissance that has grown up with Narco News and the School of Authentic Journalism: the commitment of the writers, video-makers and other talents who have done the work and trained each other through the school, and the nonprofit Fund for Authentic Journalism through which so many readers and friends have supported that work.
This month, the Fund gave its website an exciting new upgrade, thanks to the volunteer work of graduates of the school. If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is:
We’re also in a life and death battle to make the 2015 School of Authentic Journalism possible, through a Kickstarter campaign that lasts ten more days. So far, 117 supporters have pledged $10,513 toward the $25,000 goal. We have ten more days to reach that threshold. The way Kickstarter campaigns work is that unless enough pledges add up to cross the goal line, the pledgers’ credit and bank cards won’t be billed and the Fund won’t receive any of that money. This would be a great moment to add to the momentum and help get us over the top, via this link:
I mentioned a few days ago that the fate of “Narco News as you know it” also hangs in the balance of this campaign.
However it goes - "Plan A" is to meet the goal and hold the school, but we have a "Plan B" as well - the authentic journalism renaissance will keep marching on. The Fund’s ability to continue supporting the work of independent investigative journalism and the production of top shelf viral videos like the recent NNTV premier of “Danger: Journalists Crossing,” will continue to count on all our support.
We understand that in a global economy where not everybody benefits that it’s not easy for many readers who want to support this work to do so with a donation. And our friends at the Fund have been thinking hard about how to retool in a way that makes it easier even for readers and friends without expendable cash to participate.
We recently found one way we can all – including the journalists who are supported by the Fund – help to build the resources for this work through a new social media platform that shares 90 percent of its ad revenues with its users. It’s called Tsu (pronounced “sue”). It was launched last October, now has 3.7 million users, and in recent days has really started going viral in a massive way.
The Fund for Authentic Journalism set up a new page there – in a moment I’ll give you the link – and is already receiving both a share of the revenues as well as direct donations from its users. It’s very exciting how quickly and easily this has proved to work. 
I should note that nobody involved with the Fund or any of its supported projects owns any part of this new social media. It’s that it shares 90 percent of its revenue with those that participate that may revolutionize how nonprofit projects like the Fund, Narco News and the School of Authentic Journalism assemble the resources so they can survive and thrive for years to come. Nobody puts any money into the social media to be able to participate. But those who participate – because they are generating value simply by spending time there – share in the proceeds.
I’ve had a chance to test-drive the Tsu platform in the past few days and we've set up an outpost for the Fund for Authentic Journalism there. With a very small number of followers, the fund has already received more than $22 dollars to its bank account, and just in the first three days. As a user, just doing the kinds of comments and sharing of links I would normally do in Facebook, I’ve received more than $8 dollars in these three days. That’s not a lot of money, but if multiplied by hundreds or thousands of us it could add up to fund a significant part of the work of authentic journalism – as well as benefiting every supporter individually, depending on how active he or she want to be on the platform.
The Fund for Authentic Journalism is not the first nonprofit to find the Tsu way of sharing proceeds helpful to our work. There, we join nonprofits like the Aids Outreach Center, the African Wildlife Foundation, Bike to Beach (for support of autism research), Habitat GTA,, Amazon Watch, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Cape Cod Fisherman's Association, and others who have found in this new model a better way than "middleman media" had offered us.
I should say that the Tsu social media site is already not like other failed start-ups that attempted to become alternatives to Facebook (where the owners keep 100 percent of the profits generated by all the time and creativity its users pour into it). Tsu is already not a “ghost town” like other start-ups have been. I’ll give you a couple of examples shortly but first I’ll give you the link with which you can take your own test-drive:
Simply click that link (if you type it remember that it’s a “.co” and not a “.com”) and you’ll be brought to a sign-up page. You decide your username and password – along with your email address – and click “enter.” Within the next hour or so – sometimes it happens in seconds – you’ll receive a confirmation email from Tsu. Click the link in that email and, voila, you’re in, and can start posting your profile and background photos as well as begin doing the kinds of things one does on any other social media.
Once I did that, I was surprised to find how many people of talent had discovered this place before we did.
Last night I was looking at my feed there and saw a post by Elliot Randall – hey, is that the musician from Steely Dan who I loved as a kid? Ah, yes, it is! Some months ago, he said, he had been hanging around his flat in London when two members of the original Blues Brothers band stopped by, in town while on tour. They turned on a video camera and jammed a version of the jazz classic “God Bless the Child.” So he posted it on Tsu. It sounded fantastic. Here it is:
And so, like I sometimes do on any other social media, I made a comment underneath it to express my happiness at having been able to listen to and see this great music being made. Four minutes later – poof! – the great Elliot Randall replies to my comment…
Just another night on Tsu hanging around and chatting with a music legend…. It's a social media filled already with moments like that.
Another thing that happened there: I saw that another member of this site is an athlete I follow on Twitter, the NY football Giants running back Andre Williams, and he had launched a contest there for graphics about him from which he’ll pick a winner and award some fan paraphernalia. As the third generation of Giordanos to love the NY Giants I couldn’t resist. But I don’t know much about Photoshop or design programs like that and some friends helped me out. I posted the image to Tsu and suddenly an NFL player from my favorite team is publishing it on his page.
Given, that’s the silly, sometimes stupid – and fun – stuff of the sort that many of us do on social media sites while we connect with our friends at long distances there. But for the first time in my years of doing it, I was getting paid for my time and effort, and a very fair 90 percent of the value it was generating.
And I thought: this is the future of social media. It’s going to be irresistible once people hear about it, especially for the kind of people we all go on social media to read and enjoy what they say and do there.
This is a groundbreaking solution to the problem in which writers (including journalists), filmmakers, artists, musicians, artisans and cottage businesses of all kinds have in recent decades had a harder time making a living because big gigantic companies have stepped in the middle between us and consumers and established new and unfair rules that allow them to take the money that the creators used to make. And I’ll bet that if you’re someboy who would like to support the School of Authentic Journalism Kickstarter drive but can’t afford right now to contribute, you’re probably one of those people.
Facebook’s Bait & Switch that Hurt Nonprofits
The biggest social media, of course, is Facebook. Maybe you never got on it. If you’re one of those folks, I salute you. Here's the story of what happened to those of us who did get on it.
Five or six years ago friends urged me to open a Facebook account. The promise of it was that we could meet and hang with our friends all over the planet, follow what all of them were doing and saying, and they could similarly stay in touch with us. 
And for a while, Facebook became a great organizing tool for projects like Narco News and a way to find talents all over the world who would be great additions to the School of Authentic Journalism.
Narco News started a Facebook page and built it into a platform to reach 27,000 of our readers. And in 2012 I realized that if I spent a small amount of advertising dollars on Facebook we could reach even more of the people we wanted to reach. So we invested not just time, but also resources into expanding the audience for all the good work done on Narco News.
And then Facebook pulled the rug out from under us, as individuals, and from the nonprofits that had been doing good work there. It changed its “algorithms” so that users could no longer read every one of their friends' updates there, reducing that access eventually to just five percent of our friends.
What Facebook did to nonprofits was particularly heinous. Suddenly, on the Narco News page there, our news stories and videos were not reaching the audience we had spent time and money to build. Our articles and videos, instead, reached just five percent of those folks on average. My opinion is that this was an effort to extort us to purchase more ads on Facebook in order to reach the same community that our work had built there: as if our readers were held hostage and a ransom was being demanded. So when, for example, applications were available to apply to the School of Authentic Journalism, we’d then have to spend a little money to make sure as many of our readers as possible knew about it and could apply. And yet as time marched on, those ads were less effective, I suppose because they were buried in a sea of so many ads on Facebook that many readers probably developed an aversion to clicking or reading any of them. Whatever it was that happened, whatever the reasons for it, it stopped working for us.
And all that organizing work to build an online community went up in smoke. It’s not the only reason why the School of Authentic Journalism and Narco News are threatened today. But it’s one of the big ones.
And so no matter whether the Kickstarter campaign succeeds in the next ten days to make a 2015 school possible or not – and we still think we can, and are working around the clock, to do it – we’ve learned an important lesson: for the work of authentic journalism to continue to succeed we have to retool away from these “middlemen sites” that vacuum up all the value of our work and turn it into profit for them, and toward new platforms that share with the artist and journalist and the nonprofit organizations that support them.
After all, wasn't that the mission of authentic journalism to begin with? To eliminate the middleman?
We need to now apply what we've done to old media, and do it to those "new media" that have become so big they merely behave just like the old media projects like ours have challenged.
As more and more people learn that it’s simply not true that 100 percent of the value of the time and labor they expend on the Internet must be snatched up by middlemen, the existence of a new way is going to be the meteor that hits Planet Facebook, and others like it, and sends them the way of the dinosaur.
The New and Better Frontier on the Internet
And so we invite you to join us in this new frontier in which your time and creativity is going to be valued and will help you out, as well as helping out those who recruited you into it. (And on the new media - Tsu - it's different from Facebook in a very important way: you own the rights to everything you post there.)
We have a pretty good track record over the past 15 years of getting ahead of the next wave in media. All the great things we've pioneered - from online journalism and its First Amendment protections to viral video to small-dollar fundraising and more - are now possible for a great many.
If you sign up via this link, the nonprofit Fund for Authentic Journalism will become the beneficiary of 30 percent of the value of the time and energy you choose to spend there. Nothing will obligate you to do anything. But you may find, as I have, that’s it’s a thoroughly worthwhile place to spend time.
The way this new form of social media that shares the proceeds with users works is that to get in on it, you have to be invited by someone who is already there, and the recruiter will then benefit from that 30 percent part of the value you generate. Likewise, when you recruit friends to accept your invitation, you’ll receive that 30 percent part of what they generate. So why not accept the invitation from the nonprofit Fund for Authentic Journalism that you support already? (And in full disclosure, to a lesser extent of 10 percent, you’ll also be directly supporting my work there, because I’m the user that invited the Fund in; you already know that whatever resources I assemble go mainly to support other journalists and their training, too.)
Interested? Use this link as your pass code to sign up and see for yourself if what I’m telling you is too good to be true, or just plain true:
That new page will also share the future work of journalists, video-makers and others that the Fund supports, so you’ll have one-stop shopping to read and view the work that your time on social media will be supporting.
Once we reach a critical mass there, we may well pull out of Facebook altogether.
If it’s not your cup of tea, no problem: nothing lost, nothing gained. There are still other ways to support this work and make sure you can keep reading it.
But after already having recruited more than 10 percent of my “Facebook friends” to join me in this new social media, and seeing how pleased and active they are, I bet you’ll find it worthwhile and fun, too. And that’s especially true if you are a writer, journalist, artist, musician, creator or small businessperson of any kind, because for once in our lives we’re receiving a fair value on the time and energy we put into a social media experience.
If you have any questions, or I can help you navigate onto this newest part of our fifteen-year project, you know my email address: .
Victor Hugo once wrote, “There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”
I’m betting that moment is now.
From somewhere in a country called América,

Narco News as You Know it Could End in 15 Days

By Al Giordano
“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.”
                                                                    - Joni Mitchell
Dear Friend,
I’ve always been honest with you. 
That’s why in all the years that we’ve been reporting at Narco News I’ve never used the common fundraising tactic of "crying wolf," of saying we’ll have to close shop if we don’t reach our money goal. We’ve learned to get by on a fraction of what others would consider too little to do this work, because it’s the work – and not the money – that we love.
But if I’m going to keep being honest with you I have to tell you that I am worried about the future of Narco News and the school, especially if you, the readers, don’t get us to our $25,000 goal by May 19 to make a 2015 School of Authentic Journalism possible.
The school is the crown jewel of this project. It’s what draws and brings new talent to the work of authentic journalism, and provides for the intensive training of the next generations of those who will carry on this work.
It’s not enough for grizzled veterans of investigative journalism like Bill Conroy and I to keep reporting until we no longer can. That’s how too many good journalists and too much good journalism faded out of society in the first place. You’ve probably noticed that experienced journalists too often become more isolated and alienated as years go by until they’ve painted themselves into a dark and cynical corner, and readers stop responding to their work.
No, the renaissance of authentic journalism has grown thanks to the School of Authentic Journalism, because it is regularly refreshed with new blood, fresh ideas, and “the wisdom of youth” that knows that our work has to constantly evolve. It’s that kind of enthusiasm and wisdom that made the new Narco News TV video – “Danger: Journalists Crossing” – possible.
Have you seen the new NNTV video yet? It’s a wonderful example of how we confront injustices differently than most – with humor and a sense of fun, while also involving the people who too many journalists treat as "product" in the telling of their own important stories. Check it out:

In just five days, it’s received more views than most documentaries will ever see – 35,000+ on Facebook alone. And the creativity and talent of the scores of young people who participated in making the video – Central Americans and authentic journalists who played acting roles, and all the skilled volunteers who wielded the cameras and designed the sets and the score and artwork and edited it so superbly – are a direct result of the School of Authentic Journalism. The idea for this video, in fact, came out of a brainstorming session at the 2014 school.
It was also the younger people at the school that told us we should directly post the video to Facebook and not just on YouTube and NNTV, because, they said, “Facebook is where we’re watching videos now.” And based on the quick and viral response, that was clearly good advice.
Which brings me to the point of this letter.
Two weeks ago we launched a fundraising campaign on the online platform Kickstarter to fund the 2015 school. If we raise $25,000 by May 19, there will be a school this year. If we raise twice that, we’ll be able to invite English speakers to the school, too, and translate all its sessions. Half of that time has elapsed, and while more than 50 readers have pledged more than $6,000, we’re not at half of the goal yet.
The way that Kickstarter works is that people make pledges, using your credit or ATM cards, but the money only gets billed to you if and when the project meets its goal. If we can get closer to the goal before May 19, there is another group of potential donors who watch the campaigns on Kickstarter and are famous for putting worthy fund drives over the top: they’re people who like to make a difference with their money to make good things happen. Just yesterday, Kickstarter declared our campaign a “Staff Pick,” which will help some in the final stretch toward the goal, but in the end we’ll rise or fall based on whether the people who know our work best decide to pitch in or not.
If we don’t reach the $25,000 goal, the Fund for Authentic Journalism won’t receive a cent.
And while it’s likely that the best of those who have pledged will probably just go ahead and donate that amount anyway, because the journalism of Narco News is also important to them, it won’t be enough to hold the school this year.
And if there is no School of Authentic Journalism this year, I’m worried for the future of this project, and not just because we want and need the fresh energy and talent of the next generation of authentic journalists, although that in itself is a big thing.
The consequences would include that there will have to be changes in what we can do with Narco News itself.
I’m not talking about deleting the 15 years and thousands of stories and videos we’ve reported. That’s a priceless archive that I’m committed to keep online without charging readers or selling ads, even if it means I have to go out and find another job to be able to pay the bills.
Nor am I saying that Narco News would have to stop all its reporting. It would have to, however, scale down - for a while at least - while I consult with those most involved about what we can possibly do to carry on a renaissance without resources.
The consequences of that for the coming days of Narco News would not be light and transient.
Over the years, now and then, some larger donors have come forward to make the school and our work possible. But large donors are fickle, and they’re not used to dealing with projects of fierce independence that will not change our way of doing things just because a benefactor would like us to do so. 
But if that is the price of integrity, no matter how high, it’s a price I’ve always been willing to pay.
It’s now in your hands, and that of the rest of the readers and supporters, to decide whether that price is so high that Narco News as we know it and love it could cease to exist. And you are going to vote on that decision in the next 15 days with your donation – no matter how large or small, it’s always been many modest ones that kept us going – at this link:
As a young man I was very inspired by a phrase I heard in Richard Attenborough’s movie, Gandhi, in which Ben Kingsley played the role of the organizer of India’s independence from colonial rule, when he said: “If your cause is just, the resources will come.”
(I’ve never found a quote in which the real life Gandhi ever said that, but it had a profound influence on me nonetheless.)
That’s been the philosophy of Narco News and the School of Authentic Journalism for 15 years now.
But whereas for many years this project was a pioneer of online fundraising to be able to do a kind of journalism that did not have to answer to advertisers or a few large donors, today everybody is trying to do the same. These days you get bombarded daily with urgent appeals from a great many projects. It can get so overwhelming, "fundraising fatigue" inflicts many, that good people start tuning out and stop responding to any such appeals. But if you’ve opened this letter and have gotten this far into reading it, you obviously care about whether Narco News and its school can continue or not.
The problem is this: Even though I know that these days like never before you are besieged by an overdose of emails and social media messages asking for your donation for all kinds of causes, and that makes it harder to reach you when at a time like this we really need your help, if we get to May 19 and we haven’t reached our goal, I’m going to have to consider the corollary of that quote: If the resources don’t come, could it be that our cause is no longer just?
While I’ll know in my heart that’s not the case, it’s still going to feel like that. And, more practically, with no 2015 School of Authentic Journalism on the horizon, and however modest bills to pay, not even I am going to be able to put as much time into Narco News because I’m going to have find other work. 
I haven’t had to do that much over the last 15 years. I was 40 when I launched Narco News, and now I’m 55. You can see the span of those 15 years in the photographs above. I still don’t own a house or a car or a credit card. I still live “close to the land,” South of the Border, keeping my expenses low. I still don’t have health insurance, which probably is not recommended for a guy my age. But I don’t mind any of that. Being able to do this work is a privilege. The School of Authentic Journalism has made all that worth it: to be able to bring new generations into a work that previously was done only by a very few has been immensely meaningful, and a way I’ve been able to give back after so many mentors who have passed from this world similarly invested in me as a young man.
But to be able to keep investing in these “kids,” I need you to invest in them, too. The last 15 years have amply shown that the returns on your investment are guaranteed to be manifold.
Make a pledge, please, to the Kickstarter campaign for the School of Authentic Journalism today. Click here:
There are still 15 days to rescue the school and everything, including the newspaper, that goes with it.
If we don’t reach the goal, nobody will be happier than the powerful interests we’ve made uncomfortable for 15 years, and even some who logically ought to be supporting us will also cheer because it’s more bothersome to them that they were never able to control us. That’s life. It’s unfortunately how small minded people can be.
But you’re not one of those.
You and people like you are the people who can save the day.
Is this cause still just? Vote with your pledge via this link:
Polls close on May 19.
From somewhere in a country called América,

Yes, He Can: Martin O’Malley’s Path to the Presidency

(Five Excerpts from Issue #2 of the newsletter, Al Giordano’s América, which goes out to subscribers tonight.)

By Al Giordano 

In the coming weeks more than a dozen candidates will officially launch their campaigns for president of the United States.

And just like eight years ago, the big media purveyors of “conventional wisdom” have their heads way up where the sun don’t shine.

If you haven’t already gotten yourself a gift subscription to my newsletter that goes exclusively to supporters of The Fund for Authentic Journalism, today is a good day to do that (scroll down to the end of this post for the link), because you’ll then instantly receive all 5,700+ words of my analysis outlining what is about to come in the 2016 presidential campaign.

I share with subscribers a little bit on what is about to happen in the Republican primaries but think the bigger surprise is brewing among Democrats: that the “frontrunner” Hillary Clinton should not be considered as such, because there is a Democrat with a clear shot to surpass her in the presidential nomination caucuses and primaries. He is the former governor of Maryland, and his name is Martin O’Malley.

Here is excerpt #1 from the newsletter:

What Walker is doing to Bush – boxing him in as the establishment candidate of the past for an electorate looking to the future – O’Malley is very well positioned to do to Clinton. Of course, Martin O’Malley would be up against the formidable Clinton treasury and political machine. But it is precisely the candidates who come out of nowhere who, time and again, surprise in the American presidential nomination contests.

O’Malley’s weakness – that he is virtually unknown nationwide – is more likely to become a strength in the same way it was for Barack Obama eight years ago.

“Who the hell is Martin O’Malley and why is he in my headline?” is a question I answer by telling his story: from a young field organizer to Baltimore city councilor, to mayor, to governor, and his unique emphasis on field organization including in parts of Maryland often ignored by Democrats. It’s also revealing that O’Malley is so far the only Democrat to have extensively visited the first caucus and primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Here is excerpt #2:

Last year, O’Malley quietly installed a team of his own field organizers in Iowa – where the first presidential caucuses will be held in January 2016 – to help local Democrats win their races. He’s built relationships and loyalties in the process. He has not launched his candidacy, but the Des Moines Register notes that he has already held 30 events over nine days in the Hawkeye State. By comparison, Clinton has held just five events over two days in the state, and until last year she had not returned to Iowa since the 2008 caucuses.

In the other first primary state, New Hampshire, the Manchester Union-Leader reports that O’Malley is “the only potential Democratic candidate to make what had the feel of a campaign stop so far this season, visiting Concord earlier this month.”

Just showing up is of immense importance to Iowa and New Hampshire voters, who so often have winnowed the field and established the dynamics of presidential nomination battles…

The essay looks closely at how former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has already begun the kinds of missteps that characterized her 2008 presidential campaign.

A big part of the gap that divides new generation Democrats from their elders is that they are data-driven. We’re more likely to read Nate Silver’s projections than to take the cable TV and newspaper columnist pundits seriously. That generation gap is reflected in how O’Malley and Clinton approach campaigning, too.

Here’s is excerpt #3 from the newsletter:

The 2008 Obama campaign’s precise development of demographic data on potential voters took Clinton – and later John McCain – by storm. They did not know what was happening to them or why voters they had written off were suddenly flooding the polls. Still, data without people power is nothing: a successful campaign needs an army of volunteers trained to deploy that data – and the tailored pitches to the diverse demographic groups that the data reveals, known as micro-targeting – to be able to benefit from it. There have been a lot of signals sent from the Clinton organization that people should think they learned their lesson from the 2008 defeat, and Clinton has hired any former Obama operative willing to bite (obviously not those who signed an open letter to Elizabeth Warren urging her to challenge Clinton last November). But Clinton’s volunteer base remains largely over 50 years old, with most of them over 60, and while its not impossible for old folks to learn new tricks, we’ve yet to see any investment at all in training volunteers in the new campaign methods the way that Camp Obama was already starting to do at this time eight years ago.

The big game-changer - here, in the fourth excerpt - that has already happened to the 2016 presidential campaign has come from someone who insists she won’t be a candidate:

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren – who so many hope to draft into the presidential campaign – has already won, in a big way, without becoming a candidate. Her anti-corporate populism both rides and drives the emerging political zeitgeist in America, where everyday people see the stock market doubling in value over the past six years but, still struggling, haven’t shared in its success…

Warren has been exemplary in giving voice to a populism that rejects dividing white against black against Latino and so on. In that sense she embodies new generation Democrats more so than Webb or Sanders. Clinton, to her credit, supported Kennedy’s immigration reform bill and enjoys strong support among Latino voters in particular. But Clinton will continue to stumble badly on anti-corporate power, where her own record is woefully out of step.

Enter Martin O’Malley: Like Clinton and Warren, he’s a mainstream Democrat and liberal when it comes to social issues from abortion rights to same-sex marriage. Like Warren, Sanders and Webb, he plants his flag on the economic platform that all Americans should share in the largesse bestowed upon Wall Street: Increase the minimum wage and target income inequality, break up the “too big to fail” banks, and restore real competition to financial institutions. As Warren and other progressive populists like Robert Reich have argued, bringing back the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act could accomplish much of this in one fell swoop.

The enthusiasm of an organized “Draft Warren” movement has moved the earth under the 2016 campaign seismically, to the point that progressive economist Robert Reich, who 22 months ago voiced his support for Clinton saying “we need her” has recently stated publicly that if no one else challenges her candidacy with a populist economic platform, he just might.

Here is the fifth and final excerpt for non-subscribers:

O’Malley’s call to restore Glass-Steagall and define the 2016 campaign along such populist economic concerns places Secretary Clinton on the sharpest possible horns of a dilemma. After all, it was President Bill Clinton who repealed Franklin Roosevelt’s Glass-Steagall Act in 1995, opening the door to what became the 2007 financial crisis. For Clinton to say “me too” to Warren, Reich, Sanders, Webb, and O’Malley on that point, she’d have to do something she didn’t in 2008: put considerable distance between her and the first Clinton administration on that and on other defining economic issues.

O’Malley has deployed what we community organizers call a “Dilemma Action.” He has placed his major rival in a position in which she has no good options. If Secretary Clinton fails to break with Bill Clinton’s economic policies of the 1990s, she loses. If she does attempt to position herself as apart from that legacy, she also loses, in large part because her own entire political career has been as a corporate Democrat. Politicians can certainly evolve, but for people to believe it there has to be a compelling narrative – a personal story – that makes the shift credible.

The clock is ticking on Clinton’s ability to find that needle in the haystack, that “sweet spot” that would allow her emerge from the baggage of the last century into the zeitgeist of 2016…

Of course, I’ve saved the best parts for our supporters: You who generously support The Fund for Authentic Journalism, who keep the journalists at Narco News reporting, and who have so far made it possible for us to train more than 500 up-and-coming independent journalists, video makers and communicators so far at the School of Authentic Journalism. (Stay tuned very soon for news about the 2015 school.)

If you haven’t yet joined their ranks, today is an exciting day to do so, with a (tax-deductible) contribution of $70 or more, or by making a monthly pledge of $5 a month or more. That’s all you need to do receive the new issue of the newsletter immediately, and every issue for the next year. You can do so via this link:

It’s going to be fun election to cover, more fun than we’ve been told yet by the mass media, which too often acts as if the story is already decided. And that’s a big part of the fun: proving them wrong again and again. 

Unlike them, we don’t sell ads to the same companies on the stock exchange that want to decide elections for us. That’s why we need your support. And that’s what makes us always free and independent from what they want us to say. This kind of journalism is only possible because you decide it to be so. A free press is the most essential building block of any society that wants to govern itself as a democracy. Vote with your wallet today: It will cost you a lot more money later on if you leave journalism in the hands of the advertisers. That’s their plan, after all. But we’ve wrecked their plans before. Ready, dear friends, to do it again?

*     *     *

Al Giordano is a veteran political reporter who only covers politics when he sees an opportunity to make it count. In 2008, Vanity Fair called him “the prophet of the Obama paradigm shift.” He is the founder of Narco News, which turns 15 next month, and of the School of Authentic Journalism.

My "América": There Are Many Ways to Receive a Gift Subscription

By Al Giordano

Kind reader: You may have already heard - through social networks or elsewhere - that the authentic journalism renaissance has a new publication, exclusively for supporters of The Fund for Authentic Journalism.

Issue #1 of "Al Giordano's América" went out today to donors who gave, in 2015, either $70 dollars or a monthly pledge of $5 or more to the nonprofit Fund, which supports the work of the journalists at Narco News and the School of Authentic Journalism.

In this first issue I wrote thirteen pages about the life of - and my 28-year friendship with - the great Moises Morales, who passed away last week at the age of 89, along with other features (seen in the table of contents above) that amount to 25 pages and more than 8,300 words that have not been published on Narco News or any other public space.

The quickest way to subscribe is through the website of The Fund:

Donations there are made through PayPal. If you want the newsletter sent to a different address than that which appears on your PayPal account, simply email me the corrected address at

Now, if you don't currently have the money to make the donation that gets you a gift subscription, I want to let you that there are other ways to have this newsletter sent to your email box. Here they are:

If you are a journalist or blogger: I'll send you a free sample copy of Issue #1 if you agree to review the newsletter in your media. Simply email me at with the name of your publication, roughly how many readers it enjoys (we won't discriminate against small publications; we're just curious about how many people you might reach), whether you are the owner of it (or if whomever is in charge has assigned or agreed to your reviewing the newsletter), and the email address to which we can send it.

If you know someone who has already subscribed: Today through February 14 - Valentine's Day - we have told our subscribers that each can send us the email address of someone to whom they'd like to send a one-year gift subscription. Tell that subscriber that you'd like to receive that gift! If you don't know a subscriber: Simply by convincing someone to donate $70 dollars or make a $5 monthly pledge you can convince them to make you the recipient of his or her second gift subscription. It's that easy.

Win a gift subscription on Facebook via the "Ask Al Anything" contest: The newsletter has a Facebook page and two people there won gift subscriptions already by asking me a question that I chose to answer. Prior to each issue, we'll hold the same contest again. Join that page and you'll receive alerts of other special gift subscription offers, too:

Do a transcription for the No Nukes Oral History Project: Each of the volunteers who has completed at least one transcription from the audio file to text has won a one-year gift subscription. These transcriptions are the basis for an upcoming book about the anti-nuclear power movement in the United States (1973-1982) that succeeded in stopping a new generation of nukes. Email me at or project director Laura Garcia at to join in that effort. Once you complete a transcription, you get a one-year gift subscription.

I'll continue publishing stories here on the Field and at Narco News, but not everything I write is a good fit for these spaces. The newsletter is a place to write for the more intimate audience of people who have invested time or resources into this project.

A key inspiration for this newest publication was the newsletter of muckraking journalist I.F. Stone, who from 1953 to 1971 published a subscribers-only bulletin that grew to have important impact on the journalism and social movements of his time. 

Stone wrote: “I am, I suppose, an anachronism. In this age of corporate men, I am an independent capitalist, the owner of my own enterprise, subject to neither mortgage or broker, factor or patron. In an age when young men, setting out on a career of journalism, must find their niche in some huge newspaper or magazine combine, I am a wholly independent newspaperman, standing alone, without organizational or party backing, beholden to no one but my good readers. I am even one up on Benjamin Franklin – I do not accept advertising.”

It's a paragraph that decades later describes very well the work of authentic journalism today.

Narco News turns 15 this year. We don't want to burn out or fade away like has happened to so many other worthy publications in this era. To keep the project going strong, we've created yet another way - with the new newsletter - to reward those of you who have kept it alive and will continue to do so into the future.

I hope you enjoy my "América," a place where everybody has an opinion, where there is room for yours, too, and I would not wish it to be any other way.


Distribute this Exciting Flyer and Become a Narco News Messenger

By Al Giordano
In the next 48 hours the tables are going to turn, once again, against the corrupted industry of journalism and in favor of the grassroots movement of authentic journalism.
Our late friend and colleague Gary Webb (1955-2004) and his investigative reporting will hit the silver screen in the premier of “Kill the Messenger,” coming to cinemas throughout the US and Canada on Friday and in some places Thursday night. In the coming weeks and months it will go international. Gary was a cofounder and professor of the School of Authentic Journalism and an editor of Narco News before his death. Actor and producer Jeremy Renner portrays Gary’s work in 1996 when his Dark Alliance series exposed US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) complicity with cocaine trafficking from Central America to the streets of the United States. The movie recalls how the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post maliciously and unfairly attacked Gary for doing what journalists are supposed to do: tell the truth.
At Narco News and the School of Authentic Journalism we have been looking for a way to involve our readers and colleagues more in this important work. Hundreds of journalists and communicators have attended our school, thousands have applied to it, and we remain a low budget project supported only by volunteer contributions to the Fund for Authentic Journalism.
Before Gary Webb died, he asked Narco News to publish his Dark Alliance series that the San Jose Mercury News had censored from the Internet. And since some months after his passing, for the past nine years, that work has been preserved on our site. Suddenly and thanks to this major motion picture coming out, there is more interest than ever in reading Gary’s groundbreaking and obviously historic work. Without the economic resources to purchase enough advertising to make sure moviegoers and people everywhere will finally read the Dark Alliance series, we turn to you – what the corporations call “human resources,” and we call friends – to make this happen.
See the flyer above? Below you’ll find links to download it in .pdf form and print it out. There is a black and white version and a color version. We’re asking that when you go to see “Kill the Messenger” you print out enough copies and distribute these to people as they are entering or exiting the cinema. If you can, organize some friends to do it with you and form a local “Narco News Messengers” group with them. 
We have developed a few guidelines below to make sure this is done in a way that is respectful of Gary’s legacy and helpful, never harmful, to the cause of authentic journalism.
Three Guidelines for Narco News Messengers Groups
1. Narco News Messengers groups are formed in local communities, by journalists and non-journalists together, to build a grassroots movement that replaces corporate media with new and better ways for news to be reported. A group can consist of two people, six, ten, twenty or more, any size will do. More than one group can exist in any town or city. Part of the mission is to have fun doing good work with people you like and trust. And because each group agrees to these three guidelines, no group ever has to worry about what another group is doing or not doing. The first mission of Narco News Messengers groups will be to promote Gary Webb’s Dark Alliance series at this moment when the movie “Kill the Messenger” is bringing unprecedented interest to it. And from time to time we’ll let the Messengers groups know of other important projects we can all organize around at the grassroots level.
2. Narco News Messengers groups are a project of Narco News and the School of Authentic Journalism and do not affiliate with or endorse any other project, candidate, political party or media organization. We invite each group, once two or more people form it, to email us at with a contact email for the local group and news of your activities so we can promote your efforts to readers in your area. Once you indicate your agreement with these three guidelines, we’ll be glad to promote and add your chapter to the list of Narco News Messengers groups so that others can find you.
3. Each local Narco News Messengers group agrees that its actions will always be joyful, nonviolent, non-threatening, respectful of and pleasant toward every person it encounters, including law enforcement officers, corporate journalists and public officials even when they are adversarial to our goals, will not vandalize property and will not be aggressive toward or otherwise hostile to anyone who might disagree with any of our shared goals. We fervently believe that public opinion is important, that it can be enticed but can never be bullied. Any individual or group that does not follow those guidelines will, by definition, no longer be called a Narco News Messengers group. After all, if a group (or individual) harms the efforts of all, it should not be using the name, and we won’t be shy about disassociating from it. Nor will we be shy about widely promoting and seeking to work more closely with those who do this work well. Within adherence to these three guidelines, each local Narco News Messengers group is autonomous to determine how to best promote the work of authentic journalism in accordance with its organizing needs and the character of its local population.
To download the black and white version of the flyer, click here.
To download the color version (good for posting on community bulletin boards), click here.
In New York City, some of us have formed a “Meet Up” group to see the premier of “Kill the Messenger” together, and a Facebook group toward the same end. About 30 of us will meet before the movie’s premier tomorrow night and go view it together. If you agree with the three guidelines above, feel free to use Meet Up, Facebook and other social networks to organize similar efforts in your own town or city. And of course even more effective than online attempts to reach others is to simply go visit or make a phone call to the people you already know to get such a local project moving.
Finally, we know you are busy with your own work, projects, families and missions, and if you don’t have enough time to form or join a local Messengers group, please consider donating to the work of The Fund for Authentic Journalism, which supports our work. We’d like to purchase more online ads for people searching for Dark Alliance and Gary Webb’s work on the Internet, but are so far limited to a $5-a-day budget! You could make an immediate difference by clicking this link and donating.
This is an exciting moment for the work of authentic journalism and we’d like to share it with you and bring you in to be part of it. Above are some suggestions for how to do that. You may also have ideas of your own and feel free to contact me by email at to share them, and, of course use the same email address to keep us posted on your local organizing efforts around the excellent opportunity the release of this movie provides to inform and involve the greater public in the work of authentic journalism. Let us know, most of all, how we can be helpful to your local organizing efforts.

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