“Stand Up and Be Counted with the People of Latin America!”
An Urgent Appeal for Donations at a Key Historic Moment
By Al Giordano
Founder, Narco News
May 3, 2005
The tower bells of authentic news chimed from Ecuador to Mexico to the Washington DC headquarters of the Organization of American States this week, and you were there, with the Narco News team.
Saludos to you from Mexico! When was the last time I could tell you from where I was writing? I don’t know how to describe the relief that has overcome this wonderful country since last Wednesday when President Vicente Fox lifted a veil of terror named “the desafuero” from the heads of all Mexico’s citizens and its visitors. As Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos wrote some weeks ago, the pre-electoral coup d’état plot would have, if allowed to proceed, soon created a wave a repression here: “If they can take someone out of the presidential race,” asked Marcos in a communiqué published March 5th, “What would stop them from putting anyone that opposes them in prison?”
It was not many years ago when, as I reported from the Mexican state of Chiapas, during the presidencies of Ernesto Zedillo and Bill Clinton, that 400 colleagues – journalists and human rights observers – were expelled from Mexico for merely having entered indigenous lands at the invitation of the natives. My, have times a’changed.
We visitors, back then, had to learn fast how to lay low and avoid military and migratory check-posts in order to do the volunteer work of observing in a conflict zone. In 2000, the same President Fox took office, declared the expulsions illegal, and invited everybody back to Mexico. In recent months, however, the risks increased that a government that seemed hell bent on removing a popular politician from the 2006 presidential race would return to its old ways of removing the witnesses, and so in recent weeks others and I were widely advised to tiptoe below radar, especially if we were still reporting the news to the rest of the world.
I am convinced that Fox’s televised speech last Wednesday night in which he fired his attorney general and ended the desafuero plot was a watershed moment for Mexican democracy, with corresponding victories for the future of a free international press here. No matter what party is in power from now on, there can be no turning back from the course that has been opened. The direction is inexorably toward more freedom. Therefore, Mexico presents, now, ideal circumstances for deepening the Authentic Journalism renaissance and for the creation of a permanent campus in Mexico for the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism.
And so I have begun the process of drawing up the legal papers (presuming that, when we are ready, that Mexico will welcome an internationally respected non-accredited journalism school, supported by many of Mexico’s best known and most authentic journalism giants, to its shores) and searching for the appropriate plot of land upon which, once the permits are granted, we will build our school.
You’ve seen what we did with a few ten-day journalism training sessions, with the large international network of journalists we have convened, and with the good work of so many of them on Narco News’ pages and the photo essays, the video and audio reports at the J-School site, salonchingon.com. Imagine what could happen if we had a year-round campus, for more of those training programs in news reporting, print, Internet, radio, TV and documentary media. Imagine the young journalist or journalism student in the many countries we serve, and her inspiration, and his hope, when their chances to attend this school greatly expand.
I believe in the Narco News J-School so fervently that I am investing my life savings – an insurance settlement I received last year – in establishing that piece of land for that campus.
But in order to make this happen, we need your immediate support to:
- Keep the news reporting work of Narco News alive and thriving, continuing under the able leadership of Acting Publisher Luis Gómez, Managing Editor Dan Feder and Editorial Columnist Laura del Castillo.
- Send me, please, this July and August of 2005, some new (and maybe even some of the already graduated) Authentic Journalism scholars, to volunteer with the many tasks that must be done to make the permanent J-School a reality, to expand Narco News more deeply into radio and book publishing among other ways to reach a wider public, and, of course, so they can learn the ropes of how it is that we do what we do here.
Simply put, that means we need resources, to get the newspaper through the spring and summer months, and to fund at least a few Authentic Journalism Scholarships. Give us a some pesos for reporters, and some dollars for scholars, please.
Time is of the essence. If we want scholars in July and August we must be able to offer the scholarships now. But we can’t do that yet, because we don’t have the minimal funds with which to do it, nor even to keep Narco News publishing during the same time period.
(If you are an aspiring Authentic Journalism Scholar, stay tuned closely next week: I will let you all know whether there was sufficient response to this appeal to offer new scholarships and internships for July and August, tell you how to apply, and what we are looking for in your talents. And, obviously, if you really want to make it possible, forward this message to someone who might be able to give more generously than most, with a personal note asking them to join this great leap forward.)
The reality is that I can’t build a school alone. I need more hands on deck here, to begin expanding our operations in the directions that they need to move in order to make the permanent campus possible. Get me those scholars and interns, please!
I know that you have given generously before. You have always responded when we have called for your help. I need you – we all need you – to respond again and, if you can, more generously than before.
I’m not a wealthy man, at least not materially. I own no house, no car, no stocks or bonds. With my recent luck over an insurance settlement, should I simply disappear under my mango tree, build a home of my own, but leave the next generation of auténticos behind? Someone else might do that, and I would frankly understand. But I’m investing my only $30,000 to make the permanent J-School happen. Could you consider investing $300? Or $30? (Obviously, if anyone wanted to match my investment, he or she would fast-forward the project and gain the love and gratitude of a new generation of Authentic Journalists for years to come. But since most of us don’t have that kind of moolah lying around (or such good fortune up against insurance companies), really, a few bucks, whatever you can give, because there are many of us, could well make the difference, because we truly can’t do it all without you.)
So please dig deep and make a check out today to “The Fund for Authentic Journalism” and send it to (please note the new address, in Massachusetts):
The Fund for Authentic Journalism
P.O. Box 241
Natick, MA 01760
Or, better yet, make your donation right now online, at the same web address as always:
Based on your response over the next five days, we will determine whether we can keep Narco News running at full power, and also announce a small number of journalism scholarships for this summer that will, in part, be dedicating labor to the long-term project of creating a permanent J-School.
I’m very proud of the work that Luis, Dan, Laura, and the rest of the team have done in recent weeks to expand Narco News’ coverage as I have returned to beat reporting again. To name just some of the journalists who have added their talents to the Gómez era of Narco News: Quetzal Belmont, Greg Berger, Nancy Davies and Erich Moncada in Mexico, Bill Conroy, George Sanchez and Don Henry Ford, Jr. in the Border States, Natalia Viana and Daniel Fleming in Brazil, Romina Trincheri and Veronica Galgo in Argentina, Chris Fee in Ecuador, Gissel Gonzales, Oscar Olivera, Maria Eugenia Flores Castro and Claudia Espinoza in Bolivia, Charlie Hardy and Blanca Eekhout in Venezuela, Ben Melançon keeping a close eye on Haiti, from where our alumni Reed Lindsay continues to do the most authentic news reporting direct from the Caribbean, Sean Donahue’s eagle eye over Plan Colombia, Teo Ballvé’s continent-wide perspective and analysis… and these are just some of the voices raised in recent few weeks of 2005 via Narco News and The Narcosphere. It was the J-School that brought us into contact with most of those voices. It is the J-School that will bring them, you and us into collaboration with many more.
There is still more work to accomplish than even this network can do. We must expand the network. And we must keep training young journalists. And while you support the Gómez team at Narco News and send me a few more scholars to collaborate, I’ll be overseeing the permanent J-School project and, no doubt, still filing news reports and commentaries on Narco News when there is a vacuum to be filled, or a tower bell to be rung.
If you don’t respond generously in the next five days, we will have to cut back the regular reporting work of Narco News as well as postpone a permanent J-School project that needs, right now, more hands on deck to be born.
There is no better time than now – with the sun of Authentic Democracy rising high over our América and especially over the country where we hope to locate our permanent campus, Mexico – for you to give generously and get the greatest possible return on your investment.
Would Latin America be as hopeful a place today without the work of Narco News over the past five years, shining sunlight in the dark places, and breaking the information blockades at all the key strategic moments? I don’t think so. The more one thinks about that question, the more the absolute necessity to keep this ship sailing becomes clear.
Dream with me of what could happen – not only in our América, but also throughout the world when it sees one region rising up for Authentic Democracy and Authentic Journalism – if we now, at this crucial moment, expanded our work.
So, that’s today’s news: Narco News must continue, but it also must expand, and the legend factory named the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism must now be unleashed on a wider scale. We’ve already shown that our recipe works, and how it works, with concrete results to show. Now, please join me in redoubling your and my efforts, pledging “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor,” to take a new movement for social change – the Authentic Journalism movement – and make it grow.
From me, from our entire team in the trenches, you get our all, and never less.
So do you have a few bucks lying around? And are you willing to leap into a bold new phase of this project with us?
I know I can count on you.
We are all counting on you.
Please answer the call.
Answer it right now, online, via the Fund for Authentic Journalism website:
Or send a check to “The Fund for Authentic Journalism” and send it to the new Massachusetts address:
The Fund for Authentic Journalism
P.O. Box 241
Natick, MA 01760
In this past week, the people of Mexico stood up and were counted, the people of Ecuador stood up and were counted, and half the nations in the hemisphere stood up and were counted against continued colonial domination of the Organization of American States.
Will you stand up and be counted with them… with us?
Stand up and be counted!
Thank you, in advance, for your continuing support.
From somewhere in a country called América…
And… as I have dreamed for so many years of ending a letter to you with these words… from a somewhere named… México!
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The Narco News School of Authentic Journalism
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