The Barrel of the Pen

Nicholas D. Kristof has a NYT Op/Ed piece called Death by a Thousand Blogs. It’s about a grassroots journalist in China named Li Xinde. Accompanying this article is a flash multimedia piece. A slide show of images with a voice over and a bit of video. This video is of Li Xinde who says,

“Our party has relied on two barrels, the barrel of the gun and the barrel of the pen. The old revolutionaries came to power with the barrel of the gun. Guns are still in the hands of the party, but public opinion is now much harder to control.”

There are many significant differences between China and the United States, but how is this quote any less relevant to the Bush government’s media hegemony?

A communique from Unitarian Jihad

Jon Carroll, of the San Francisco Chronical, claims to have received an email “via an anonymous spam remailer” from a group calling itself Unitarian Jihad. Here is an excerpt:

“Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States! Too long has your attention been waylaid by the bright baubles of extremist thought. Too long have fundamentalist yahoos of all religions (except Buddhism — 14-5 vote, no abstentions, fundamentalism subcommittee) made your head hurt. Too long have you been buffeted by angry people who think that God talks to them. You have a right to your moderation! You have the power to be calm! We will use the IED of truth to explode the SUV of dogmatic expression! ”

Man, if only this wasn’t a creative and well written joke.

Edward R. Murrow on Celebrity

“Just remeber that even though you have a loud voice, even though your voice may reach 16 million people every time you speak, that doesn’t make you any smarter than you were when your voice only reached the end of this bar.” – Edward Murrow

I found this quote from the Charles Kuralt book ‘A life on the Road’. I’m reading it now and it’s amazing and quite funny. This bit of advice from Mr. Murrow seems very important for podcasters. (Like myself. I’m taking it to heart.) Kuralt in the same paragraph as he quoted Murrow said, “Overweening pride is a occupational hazzard.”

Podcasters are in the same “occupation” as early TV. Let’s learn from our media forefathers. Not all of them were government propaganda business dupes.

Quotes from ‘A Life on the Road‘, Chapter 14 – Celebrity, p.150, by Charles Kuralt.
The book ‘A life on the Road’ is Copyright © 1990 by Charles Kuralt.

Hunter S. Thompson was a Gonzo Blogger

On this awful Monday morning I was awoken by the clock radio. The first thing I hear from NPR news is that Hunter S. Thompson is dead from a self inflicted gunshot wound. The man killed himself…damn. Somehow I’m not surprised but very very sad. What awful torture drugs and depression can inflict on a person. It’s just wrong… This is not a moral judgment or condemnation of drug abuse. It’s just the cold hard facts. We learned a lot about being honest from Mr. Thompson.

Though I’ve read several of his books it was only a few months ago I learned about New Journalism. Here is a blog post I never finished about this:

Once again Doc Searls points me to the fine links. He reminds me how nothing is really new, just altered. Busting the myth of objectivity in journalism is being altered by blogs and podcasters. [Thank Buddha] Gonzo Journalism “has been called outlaw journalism, literary cubism, new journalism and other words I can’t repeat here.”

Many of us bloggers are New Journalists. We put ourselves in the story one way or the other blending hard news and fiction. Ruby Sinreich says that the best part of blogging is the first person voice we use. When we insert our bias, our opinion, and send objectivity to hell we are being the most real we can. I mean how could you possibly have any objective faculty when your high on more than one substance at a time? This was the essence of Thompson’s Gonzo Journalism.

It seems to me that the best way to understand others is to understand yourself. I don’t mean superficially but introspectively. Deep, deep, deep, searching within your mind. Long hours exercising your body listening to what it tells you. When you understand yourself you can be honest with the world. Let loose all your creativity. Then when you listen, really listen, to others you can process effectively their complicated communications. This way we don’t need societally guilt trip objectivity. We just need to understand our own truths and put others beside ours for analysis.

This might have been a too flowery an attempt at an epitaph and possibly a stretch to connect you to blogging but GODDAMN IT you sure opened up a lot of eyes Mr. Thompson! Thank you.

Dan Gilmor to Speak at UNC on Feb. 14

I’d heard a rumor not long ago that Dan Gillmor, the grassroots journalism champion, was coming to Chapel Hill. Paul Jones just confirmed it by posting the details on his blog. Mr. Gillmor will speak at 3:30 PM Monday, February 14 at the Freedom Forum Conference Center on the Third Floor of Carroll Hall at the University of North Carolina. [map & more] According to the Triangle Bloggers Conference wiki he’s a moderator for Session 2: Using Blogs to Create Community. I hope that it means he’ll be there. We’re all very excited to see and hear what he brings to the conversation. My goal is to interview him for a podcast. 🙂

Train Everyone to be the Future’s Grassroots Journalist

Dan Gillmor brings important attention to the need for education in new journalism. We need to reach women and people of color so they can be part of the conversation too. A lot of the folks who will become the media in the future will do so part time. They need direct assistance in telling the stories they want to tell. Not just online tutorials like I’ve been making (too techie for many) they will need hands on workshops, tutors, and mentors. All stuff you do offline the old school way.
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