This is Not...
DARTS & LAURELS "This is Not... Darts & Laurels" is not written by Gloria Cooper, deputy executive simulator, whose Colombia Journalism Review showed desperation in the face of the Authentic Journalism Renaissance by launching an ad hominem attack on Narco News publisher Al Giordano this month, calling him, in a caption for a staged (!) photo, a "worm," accompanied by an error-laden article. We, at Salón Chingón, thought that was pretty funny, and so now we'll have some fun with the gatekeepers at CJR who couldn't shoot straight... LAUREL In the new issue of Columbia Journalism Review the magazine finally noticed a story it has avoided for two-and-a-half years: CJR wrote that Narco News contains "solid and incisive reporting." LAUREL CJR also noted that Narco News publisher Al Giordano's "watchdog role among journalists in Latin America, and his recent involvement in a landmark libel case, have further raised his profile." DART CJR never covered that "landmark libel case" as it was happening in the years 2000 and 2001, nor the December 2001 New York Supreme Court decision extending First Amendment protections to all Internet journalists, breaking the monopoly of the commercial media protection under the "Sullivan v. NY Times" doctrine: A story that ocurred in their front yard. DART While making much ado about its recent staged World Wrestling match with the New York Times over a supposedly "staged" photo, CJR also used "a staged photo" of Al Giordano and a monkey. How do we know? We staged it! . (Giordano did tell them that it was from his camera, suggesting it was, duh... Staged!) CJR's stones thrown against NY Times photographer Edward Keating - exonerating the newspaper and scapegoating one of the last Authentic Journalists left on 43rd Street - were tossed from a glass monkey cage. Who's the monkey now?
WHAT'S WRONG WITH
The Staged Photo in Columbia Journalism Review: The CJR caption calls Giordano a "worm" and inaccurately refers to "Ari Fleischer" (right) as Giordano's "pet monkey." While Ari is the mascot of the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism, he's nobody's pet. He roams free in the Amazon jungle, in the Chapare region of Bolivia: One of the many boneheaded errors by CJR. DART Notice that the photo is not credited to anybody. When CJR was seeking a photo of Al, he emailed them this one, with the line "Credit: Narco News Agency." CJR failed to disclose that it's subject provided the photo. Without any photo credit, the average reader would think CJR took the photo. So there are messy intellectual property issues and questions of respect for photojournalists and overall dishonesty problems inherent in the CJR staged photo mini-scandal, too. Aha, no wonder CJR scapegoated NYT photojournalist Edward Keating! CJR's snobbish contempt for the working class of journalists extends to photographers, too. CJR made a mountain out of a molehill against Keating, including an over-the-top opening Editorial in this month's issue. It's obviously not that big a deal. But that CJR engages in the same kind of behavior it makes a big show of condemning regarding "staged" photos does very strongly suggest that it's pot-banging regarding Keating is part and parcel of the simulation of journalism ethics issues conducted by CJR and the Times in order to distract from the major journalistic corruptions inherent in the work of both periodicals. DOUBLE LAUREL New York magazine media critic Michael Wolff, edited by the fabulous Simon Dumenco, reported on September 23rd how CJR's publisher, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, serves the New York Times axis: "In fact," wrote Wolff, "the real mission, or the highest mission, of the school may be to prepare its students to work specifically for one paper: the New York Times (Joe Lelyveld, the former executive editor, and many Times reporters are graduates, and the Times has enormous clout at the school)..." LAUREL VILLAGE VOICE "Press Clips" columnist, Cynthia Cotts, in her November 6th report, noted that "Columbia's School of Journalism is the home of the Pulitzers and a training ground for Times employees," and cited "the Times' cozy relationship with Columbia" as giving CJR (the mag discloses that it is "published by" Columbia J-School) phony "ballast" in its coverage of the Times. LAUREL CJR quoted Giordano accurately when he noted that New York Times Colombian correspondent Juan Forero is "a US embassy 'Muppet.'" And let's face it, CJR deserves a laurel for at least addressing the headache to the industry that is Narco News: After all, it wasn't Forero who got three pages and a staged photo from 'em! DART Ex-NY Times Mexico Bureau Chief Sam Dillon, embittered over the embarrassing loss of his former sinecure of corrupted journalism, complained of Giordano to CJR, saying ""The guy became like a stalker." In fact, Giordano never sought or looked for Dillon. It was Dillon who, in March of 1999, pursued Giordano, via unsolicited phone calls to his home, and threatened him not to publish "the Banamex story," according to Al's sworn affidavit on file in the New York Supreme Court. DART The rookie freelancer who CJR sent to do this now-fracased attempted hit-piece against Giordano and Narco News, never gave Giordano the opportunity to respond that any decent journalist would give someone accused of a crime like "stalking." Interestingly, when the inept freelancer mentioned to Giordano that he had interviewed Dillon, Giordano reminded the rookie that he had pledged, beforehand, to offer the chance to respond because "Sam Dillon is pathologically dishonest." The rookie replied, dishonestly, that Dillon said nothing new and that no response would be necessary. The knowingly false charge of criminal behavior, of "stalking," is per se libel, and that the CJR rookie didn't offer the accused the fair opportunity to clear the air displayed malice and reckless disregard for the truth. DART Come to think of it, the suggestion, by CJR's photo caption that Giordano has a "pet monkey," a completely invented fiction never claimed by Giordano, might also constitute the false suggestion of a crime against environmental laws and treaties. What if that monkey is part of an endangered species? Trafficking in endangered species is akin to trafficking in narcotics: Illegal. The presumption that a "mascot" ("a person or thing believed to bring good luck, " Oxford American Dictionary) is a "pet" belonging to Giordano was a real boner. If INTERPOL or PETA raids our offices to rescue "Ari," the Columbia University endowment is gonna pay! DART The rookie freelancer, who made numerous bumbling errors in his report, was also urged by Giordano to interview Mexico's most honest, courageous and legendary journalist Mario Menéndez Rodríguez to answer the knowingly false accusations made by the pathologically dishonest Sam Dillon against him. The rookie freelancer was offered direct contact with Menéndez, but was too lazy to call him. He then quoted the professional simulator Sam Dillon calling Menéndez's daily Por Esto! "a disreputable newspaper" and its report on the narco-banker Roberto Hernández "trash." (Dillon also said that Giordano makes things up and has "no credibility," charges that Al would have hit out of the park, considering the disgraced source, which is probably why the rookie freelancer refused to give him a chance to reply.) The rookie freelancer, obviously, was afraid to interview a giant of journalism like Menéndez, as was Dillon four years ago when he claimed to have investigated the narco-banker story. Cowards of a feather stick together! (And don't think we didn't notice the inherent racism in the charges tossed at a Mexican journalist, and the denial to him of a fair opportunity to respond: Dillon and the rookie apparently need one of those "sensitivity classes" that are all the rage at newspapers these days.) In any case, as for reputable vs. disreputable, New York Times circulation is stagnant. But Por Esto! keeps on growing: It's 11 years old and already the third most widely read daily newspaper in all of Mexico. LAUREL To search engines like Google.com, that make it possible for readers to investigate for themselves the veracity of claims made by all journalists. For example, the rookie journalist repeatedly tried, however ineptly, to portray Narco News' Giordano as "an activist first and a journalist second" and claimed that "mainstream reporters cringe" at "authentic journalism." But who is the rookie freelancer to make such judgments? Do a Google search on Al Giordano and the word "journalist," and one finds more than 750 Internet pages dedicated to the subject, most of which refer to Giordano as the journalist. (And this doesn't even count the more than 100 web reports dedicated, in Spanish, to Giordano as "periodista," or others that cite his work as a journalist in French, Italian, Portuguese, German, etc.) But do a Google search on the rookie freelancer's byline and the word "journalist," and one finds only six reports - two referring to the journalist Giordano, and none of them referring to the rookie freelancer as the "journalist." The Reader has to, as always, consider the messenger. LAUREL To Google's new wire service, Google News, which features Narco News as one of its primary news sources, but, interestingly, doesn't consider CJR to be as worthy a news source. LAUREL To veteran Boston Globe reporter Brian McGrory, the only "mainstream journalist" to ever mention the rookie freelancer's name who on January 16, 2001, referred to the rookie freelancer as a "wannabe writer," and as a member of the "notoriously persnickety salad fork crowd, a group that often confuses being obnoxious with being informed." McGrory described CJR's "wannabe writer" as one who "declared in The New York Observer last month, 'Boston is a small town with many astoundingly bad restaurants.' Perhaps he's still sore about being fired from Boston magazine in November." LAUREL To our Salón Chingón collaborator and photographer Kaia Porter, 21, who monitored much of the CJR rookie freelancer's "interview" with Al Giordano - while the rookie helped himself to large quantities of free beer from the newsroom fridge - who upon observing the rookie freelancer on the job, commented: "He's a journalist? He seems like such a non-entity. He seems more like a gerbil than a journalist." DART To the CJR rookie freelancer, who confessed to being a US Embassy "diplomat brat," a Columbia University alumni (¿ya ven?), who chose to stay in one of the most expensive posh hotels - a dozen free brands of luxury colognes and perfumed soaps with each room! - of the impoverished Third World City where he met up with our News Team, who took a cheap shot at Giordano's "crooked teeth" in his failed CJR attack piece. The fact is, Giordano's teeth aren't so much crooked as they are chipped, from a fall from an automobile when he was eight. And coming from modest roots, Giordano's family never had the money for braces or dental surgery. What Giordano's family did have, though, in place of money, was character, ethics, creativity in the face of economic obstacles, and dignity. The poor little rich freelancer, who has set himself up in high-rent New York City to suck his way up into the media establishment, may have been born with a silver salad fork in his mouth, but can't hide his contempt for those not born into his "salad fork crowd" spoiled brat privilege. Artist's Portrait of a CJR "Reporter" DART Again, to the rookie freelancer, for thinking himself qualified after six years of roaming the wilderness of journalism looking for mercenary work, who thinks he can judge who is a "journalist" and who is not. Here are the facts he knew but denied to CJR's readers: Narco News publisher Giordano spent seven years as a full time beat reporter - cops, courts and politics - for the Springfield Advocate and the Boston Phoenix. He spent three years as a daily AM radio host. He has filed more than 1,000 stories in the commercial press, never missing a deadline. He has published in the Washington Post, American Journalism Review (When it was WJR, under legendary editor Bill Monroe), The Nation, Evergreen Review, and scores of newspapers and magazines. He was declared a journalist by the New York Supreme Court. All of this information was directly reported, additionally, to CJR's fact checker (who did correct some inaccurate statements originally made by the rookie). DART The rookie reporter has also lost any credibility he might have had in the future writing about the drug war - a story that readers around the world recognize as valid and led by the work of Authentic Journalists who take major risks to report it. That was the story, but he couldn't see it even as it bit him in the ass.
DART CJR committed a bumbling inconsistency in this month's issue. On the one hand, the rookie reporter's article contained multiplie complaints about the length of Narco News stories (could it be that Narco News has proved that long-form journalism isn't dead, and that it is precisely Narco News that has picked up the torch once lit by Rolling Stone in reviving the genre that so many had feared disappeared?). On the other hand, the same issue of CJR has a 6,000-word article praising the long articles in Atlantic Monthly, including "an extraordinary 70,000-word series." So which is it? We say, what's good for the Atlantic is good for the Caribbean, kids!
LAURELS To all the "mainstream journalists" who, contrary to
CJR's invented fictions, have not "cringed" at all regarding Narco News and Giordano's renaissance in Authentic Journalism. They have mentioned us, pro and con, but all have been accurate, fair and professional: Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post, Mark Jurkowitz of the Boston Globe, Alexandra Marks, of the Christian Science Monitor, Ken Layne, of the LA Examiner, Cynthia Cotts, of the Village Voice, Dan Kennedy and Clif Garboden of Giordano's alma mater, the Boston Phoenix, Danny Schechter, of the Media Channel, Amy Langfield, of Online Journalism Review, Mim Udovitch, of Rolling Stone, Jim Romenesko, of the Poynter Institute's Media News, Sean Dodson, of the Guardian of London, Mexican national political columnists Carlos Ramírez, Pepe Martínez, Beatríz Fregoso, Alvaro Cepeda Neri, and Juan Pablo Becerra Acosta, Pulitzer prize winner Gary Webb, Salon.com's Jan Shreve, and of course Mario Menéndez, Mexico's grandest daily newspaper editor and founder of the Authentic Journalism Renaissance, not to mention the rest of The Faculty of the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism. , and SO MANY OTHERS. All of them got the facts right. Columbia Journalism Review is the only publication that distorted instead of reported. And still, even with their malice and reckless disregard for the truth, we come out smelling like a rose. THE BIG DART The biggest dart, though, goes not to the rookie freelancer, but, rather, to Mike Hoyt, Executive Simulator of Columbia Journalism Review. Michael Hoyt. simulator, we will address these comments to you: You have prostituted yourself (again) to the agenda of the corrupted New York Times - embarrassed time and time again by the new scrutiny offered by Authentic Journalists to its correspondents' misbehaviors in Latin America - in your magazine's efforts to marginalize our work. Yes, they have their panties all up in a bunch up at 43rd Street: The First Amendment monopoly by commercial media is over: It now belongs to us, and to all journalists everywhere. That would have been a great story for your rag. But, alas... You screwed up royally, Mike, and here's why: You sent a cub reporter, incompetent for even a hit-piece, to do the job of a professional. You didn't send an experienced drug war reporter who would know the complex beat at issue. You didn't send an experienced court reporter who would understand the significance of our New York Supreme Court victory. You didn't send a reporter who could speak Spanish in Latin America (maybe that one would not have feared his or her duty to interview a Mexican journalist of 1,000 times the rookie's stature). Those would have all been interesting stories. But you didn't send anyone with any gravitas at all! For the details on your magazine's factual errors and ethical lapses, see our accompanying story on how an Authentic Editor might have rescued this story. When is Columbia Journalism Review going to break the shackles of its servitude to the petty interests of the uptown Media Establishment? When are you aspiring gatekeepers of journalism going to realize that in December 2001 we took the hinges off the gates? When will you declare independence from the NYT-Pulitzer-CPJ-CJR- Columbia University clique and stop trying, in vain, to circle the wagons? It doesn't matter when! We already have more readers than you do! CJR, review thyself! Throwing darts while resting on your laurels, Hoyt? Y'all tried to hit us, and you just made us stronger. ¡Pendejos!
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Publisher's Postscript, November 27: Columbia Journalism Review finally posted this disaster of an article to its website. Executive Simulator Mike Hoyt was so proud of it, he waited until the day before Thanksgiving to publish it online! Precisely when the fewest people would see it! Way to go, Mike! Sometimes people are transparent even when they try not to be.
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Authentic Journalism vs. Authentic Gerbilism