The Benefits of Dropping Everything and Coming to work Somewhere in América for Narco News
The Workload is Huge, the Pay Is Terrible, but It’s the Best Gig a Radical Techie Could Ask For
By Dan Feder
Webmaster and Managing Editor, Narco News
August 11, 2006
I know I’m not the only one. There are thousands, maybe millions of us who grew up along with the Internet and computers, saturated with media, both outraged at the oppressive power of technology and fascinated with its revolutionary potential. We idolized hackers when we were younger, dreamed of bringing down the powers that be with our keyboards.
The job that Narco News is looking to fill, the job that I’ve done for four years, may be about as close as one can get in this life to that dream. It’s a job that is about putting those geeky skills to work for something that matters, for a change, and about being on the front lines of historic changes in our hemisphere. It requires thinking on one’s feet, constantly figuring out new solutions for communicating ever-changing kinds of information.
Let me tell you a little of my history here. As my time at Boston University was coming to an end, I had no idea what to do with myself. Keeping with my interest in media, I had studied journalism and had continued to learn web programming on my own. The more I was exposed to the commercial media the more I despised them, and lending either my writing or my technical labor to such a corrupt, empty industry was becoming an extremely depressing prospect.
I decided to do some traveling with the money I had recently won unexpectedly in court thanks to some big mistakes by my then-landlord. I’d been in touch with Narco News publisher Al Giordano for some time due to my involvement in BU’s award-winning Student Underground newspaper and was intrigued by Narco News’ mix of top-notch journalism and muckraking, anarchistic prankster spirit. When I wrote to Al and asked if he wouldn’t mind a visitor at the Narco Newsroom “somewhere in a country called América,” it was just as he was looking for some fresh blood for the project, to handle the technical aspects and help organize things like the School of Authentic Journalism.
So, I paid Narco News a visit, and never came back. During my four years in various countries South of the Border, I redesigned the website twice, created a content management system for the many hundreds of articles that have been published in that time, developed a slew of related websites including the Narcosphere, and moved the whole project to a dedicated server. In times of crisis we’ve worked through the night, over and over again, to get stories ready to publish online and spread the authentic word on what’s really happening in these lands. I’ve become fluent in Spanish and learned more than I can possibly say about journalism and authentic communication. It has been overwhelming, exhausting, exhilarating, and, as we’ve walked alongside some of the world’s most dedicated social fighters, a true privilege.
So, if this work is so great, then why am I leaving this post after four years? The truth is that I want to have the time and mobility to get out more where the news is happening and report it. I’ll continue to be part of the Narco News project, but as a reporter. And, of course, I’ll help train the new webmaster first. So, if you’re in a spot like I was, a “radical techie” looking for some way to put those tech skills to work for something that is a part of the historic changes going on in our América, please get in touch with us – write to firstname.lastname@example.org – and tell us why you’d like to take the next shift as Narco News webmaster after I leave this fall. Taking the job will most likely mean living in Latin America and taking a pay cut compared to what you could make selling your labor north of the border, but you will be a part of things you could probably never have participated in otherwise.
Looking forward to hearing from you….
Outgoing Managing Editor and Webmaster
The Narco News Bulletin
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