It ain’t easy being a podjournalist

by bicyclemark

A string of delays, ignored requests, and busy guests have impeded my programs lately. Which seriously reminds me of the trials and tribulations of pushing to be an independent alternative reporter or news analyst or commentator, or whatever it is you feel like calling this thing I call podjournalism.

I took a decent amount of well deserved heat after my presentation in Berlin. Mostly from people who defended traditional media and the profession of journalism. They didn’t like or agree with how I callously dismissed the entire media industry. A swiss journalist scolded me the second I opened it up to comments, and I didn’t even have a chance to respond. Later, a more open minded german guy came over and politely debated the issue with me outside the big auditorium of the convention hall. That was a good discussion.. and he made some good points as well as arguements against my theories. (somebody recorded it, but it doesn’t seem to be finable on the web yet)

So what I really left out of my crazy presentation was the value of some journalism of the conventional kind. Especially from the alternative realm, where my heros like Newfield, Mailer, Stone, etc came from, and where so many of my present-day favorites still work.

Jacob van Lenap... yeehaw.

I mention all this because moments like this, where it seems impossible to finish a program Im working on, or get someone to talk to me over the phone, or just get an email response saying “yes” or “no”, I remember how hard it has always been for journalists. And then I think about how even harder it is for a guy who publishes his work on his own site under the title “Bicyclemark’s Communique”.

In the end they’ll have to get used to me… because I’ll keep poking around, I’ll keep emailing, and if they don’t like the look of the website or my candid personal tone… tough shit, you’re looking at the future baby.

Reflecting on Josh’s Experience

by bicyclemark

Josh Wolf doesn’t know me. But anyone reading this knows that in this wonderful jungle called the internet.. we know many people who don’t know us.

Tonight, as I sat here in my room in windy Amsterdam, I read through this piece he wrote from prison, describing what his average day consists of. It really had me sitting here and imagining. Not to mention appreciating and admiring what he is going through and its significance for all of us who struggle to be recognized and allowed to do this very under-respected type of journalistic work. I should will write to him.

Outside.

For tonight I quote one of his paragraphs, and hope you’ll read it fully, and remember all those out there who have been wrongly imprisoned.

Although I occasionally watch a bit of television during the evening, I try to devote the last hour or two before lockdown to responding to the correspondence I have received. Just before 8:45 PM, I go into the guard’s office and deliver whatever letters I have finished writing, and then fill up my mug with water from the drinking fountain. By that time, the guard has usually announced lockdown and we all scamper back to our cells where we wait out the rest of the night.

Heading North Thru BENELUX

by bicyclemark

Few words today, it’s sunday and I’m catching up on the American Football.

Suburban train near brussels.

Eventful train ride back from Brussels, which I’ll talk about tomorrow. During the ride I heard all about how Ed Bradley (of 60 mnutes) had died. Very sad to hear it… he was my favorite reporter on that program. Television news needed him.. the public needed him… out of all the old people working on the program, hadn’t figured he would go anytime soon. Thanks for your work Ed… made a difference in my life.

A Media Pact

by bicyclemark

First of all, I hereby promise that this will be the last post this week related to US congressional elections and US politics. Not because I’m one of those “lets not talk politics, it makes everyone upset” people… but rather because on this blog, I value the fact that the world is larger than just one country… plus its a personal blog.. so I could surely tell a story or two of interesting cultural learnings for make benefit of great internet.

Most of you probably don’t watch GW Bush press conferences. This because you value your mental health, time, ears, and intelligence. Watching him speak has been proven to put any of these at risk.
But I live in Amsterdam and things here are always in some sort of twilight zone, so I watch the press conferences… I guess because everyone has an unhealthy passtime.

So what I notice tonight, more than ever, is that exactly at a moment where the press should be asking tough questions and making this man explain all his vague promises and preminitions when it comes to the election, national issues, and the ever-so-vague “finish the mission” talk about Iraq…. instead of pressuring him to actually answer what the hell he has planned, they do the exact opposite. Throw the man softballs… and worst of all… and this one almost made me spit up my dinner all over innocent roomate: they joke with him!

Now I know some us like to joke on the job… hell I did.. when I had a job. But the relationship between media and president is not one of colleagues. They are monitors. Their role is to ensure he is doing his job, as leader of the country, properly and not misrepresenting or adopting policies that could prove detrimental. You know.. like sending thousands of people to their deaths.. that kind of thing.

A Media with such a role; acting as the fourth estate of checks and balances, would not be a media that shares inside jokes and winks and nudges with the president. They wouldn’t further allow the president to avoid doing his job or facing criticism by laughing at his jokes and responding with more jokes. That wouldn’t work very well, if they are to be a critical force that the president takes seriously.

But the fact is… they do this. They laugh it up. He calls them by their first names. He probably buys them booze, drugs, and sex like Nixon used to do for his campaign press.

Photo from Flickr member Luna Park  -- thanks!

My thought after once again seeing this sick and useless relationship… is an idea. A pact, if you will. The entire white house press core should take this oath.. make this pact.. for the good of the nation and to properly due their job as the fourth estate: promise to never ever laugh at the presidents’ joke during a press conference or an interview. Sure he’ll tell them often.. trying to avoid producing answers or revealing his dark secrets.. but the press should keep to this strict rule… and there should be dead silence anytime he tells one of his one line zingers. Dead silence! And wait for the president to answer the question.. or keep asking the same question if he tries to move on.

In my little imagination I can see it now… the great media stonewall… no more kidding around and laughing it up. Just watchdogs.. reporters… investigators.. who can joke around once the job is done and the president has gone back to his lonely corner.

Thats what I’d like. Just a little wish.

(If you seek post-election analysis not from the mainstream.. don’t look to me.. consult Liberty Cap)