2006 Spring Offensive: Narco News Is “Going For Broke”
We Will Change Journalism in América Again, Or We Will Cease to Publish
By Al Giordano
Founder, Narco News
March 28, 2006
My late mentor Abbie Hoffman opined in his autobiography that early in life we are faced with the choice of “going for the money or going for broke.” The almost six-year-old project that began as The Narco News Bulletin has, each step of the way, chosen to go for broke: to speak and report uncomfortable truths even when it could lead to being sued by Mexican narco-bankers, threatened by Colombian paramilitaries, or summarily dropped by North American philanthropists who wanted to limit the scope of our investigations within “safe” borders. All of those things and more have happened to us over the past six years but each time we decided to “go for broke” and take the more risky, if less popular, path wonderful things happened in our América and the Authentic Journalism renaissance thrived anew.
Kind reader: Today, in 2006, we are at that same crossroads again. We have had to decide whether to maintain our steady stream of reports “on the drug war and democracy from Latin America” on the modest budget provided in tens and twenties and the occasional larger contribution by readers, or whether to rise to the additional challenge of offering the only consistent multi-lingual coverage of the Zapatista “Other Campaign” that rumbles through Mexico this spring. After more than 300 original reports, video newsreels and translations since the first of January about that trek, as we have also continued our news reporting from the rest of the hemisphere, we are proud of what has been accomplished. But a consequence of “going for broke” — we’ve been here before — is also, often, that we go broke. And that’s where we are. Flat broke. And yet we are here, ready to report again, with our sometimes blind faith that, as Gandhi said, “When the cause is just, the resources will come.”
I have just spent my last $400 dollars to rent a newsroom in Central Mexico from where our Road Team will cover the next month of Zapatista Subcomandante’s tour through the nearby states of Michoacan, Morelos, Guerrero, the State of Mexico and Mexico City. Two reporters, two camerapersons, three video editors, one video director — all volunteering our labor — are at work here producing the next wave of video newsreels. You may have read some of the reports on which those newsreels will be based… From the Mexican states of Yucatán, Oaxaca, Tlaxcala and Querétaro… and from here in the Narco Newsroom we will also be able to monitor the story — and translate its news — from the sidelines.
But — I ask you — do reporters and Authentic Journalists belong on the sidelines when we could be your eyes and ears there as the masked Subcomandante known as “Delegate Zero” convenes and listens to “the simple and humble people who struggle” and weaves one big fight from the many to shake the sleeping giant that is Mexico for years to come? Or should we be there, again, already, on the scene, working our fingers to the bone to break the information blockade? If you believe, as I do, that you deserve to have honest correspondents there to tell you the truth about the immediate history that occurs, then I ask you to donate so we can rent a car, put some gas in the tank, and get this Road Team back on the road.
There are three things you can do today (pick one, please) to make that happen…
1. The fastest way for you to do that is to donate right now, online, via The Fund for Authentic Journalism website, with your credit card:
2. Or if you don’t have a credit card, or have maxed out yours already on other costs of living, you can mail a donation to:
The Fund for Authentic Journalism
P.O. Box 241
Natick, MA 01760
3. Or, if you have no money, if you have already “gone for broke” like us, there is something else you can do: You can write a letter — one like I am writing to you now — asking your friends, family, neighbors and anyone else you can think of, explaining why you believe this project in Authentic Journalism must continue, and send me a copy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if we like your letter, we will publish it here on Narco News, and send it to our thousands of subscribers, so that your voice is heard, too.
Do not worry if you misspell a word or two, or if you are not a professional writer; none of that means anything and we will be happy to look your letter over and make suggestions with an editor’s eye as to how to put it in publishable form. The fact is that letters from little-known readers to other readers have historically been among the most successful fund appeals we have published and emailed: because such letters speak from the heart, and from the same side of the screen where other readers exist.
You can read recent letters, for example, from Ben Melancon, Adolfo Gilly, Stan Gotlieb, Dan Feder, Teo Ballvé, Oscar Olivera Foronda, Sarahy Flores Sosa, Ellen and James Fields, Luis A. Gómez, Quetzal Belmont, yours truly, and others at the page www.authenticjournalism.org for an idea of how it is done. In addition to the fact that letters like those — like, potentially, yours — do inspire folks to pitch in, we who are here in Latin America doing the work of investigating, reporting, writing, filming, audiotaping and editing really love to read those letters. They inspire us to continue on. They help us to forget that we are, each of us, going broke and getting older as we do this work. They remind us of why we do it. And that, too, is a very important form of donation and collaboration in this Other Journalism.
Later — soon, in fact — we will tell you about our hopes to report along the US-Mexico Border when Subcomandante Marcos goes to Juárez City and Tijuana for his historic meetings with Mexicans and Mexican-Americans who live in the United States… The recent mega-marches from Los Angeles to Chicago to scores of other cities in defense of the dignity of immigrants and migrant workers in the U.S. provide a boosting context to those much-anticipated gatherings in June. But that is more than two months away and in the meantime we have to keep our word to report the entire “Other Campaign” from the hometown of Emiliano Zapata in Morelos to Acapulco to Mexico City and a lot of forgotten places in between.
One thing is for sure: If we don’t get there to report the news, you’re not going to read it in English anywhere else. The first three months of this six-month “Other Campaign” in Mexico have already proved that.
Yes, Narco News has over-extended it self. Again. And that means we risk losing it all and having to close our doors. Again.
And so, again, I ask you to do one of three things:
- Donate online at http://www.authenticjournalism.org
- Send a check to The Fund for Authentic Journalism, P.O. Box 241, Natick, MA 01760.
- Or write an appeal that we can send to a few thousand of our closest friends, while you send it to yours.
Once more, our backs are against the wall. We will either succeed in this ambitious quest. Or we will die, as a web site, trying. The difference between the first fate and the latter is in your hands.
Thank you for reading.
From somewhere in a country called América,
Narco News is funded by your contributions to The Fund for Authentic Journalism.
Please make journalism like this possible by going to The Fund's web site
and making a contribution today.
- The Fund for Authentic Journalism
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