Paging Radical Techies!
Narco News Webmaster Gig Comes with Lots of Work, Terrible Pay and Quite Possibly the Best Experiences of Your Life
By David B. Briones
Cyber Development Director, Narco News
September 1, 2010
Like many people in my field, I was dissatisfied with the culture that surrounds a typical computer-related job. Of sitting in a small cubicle amidst a hive of similar cubicles, quickly typing away while dreaming of moving to the corner cubicle, all while being smothered in a hearty dose of a toxic corporate culture. I am and was part of a group of people who understand the power and potential of technology but see it used for greedy and petty purposes, always awakening within us the childhood idolization of hackers who spoke truth to power via their keyboards.
The tech job at Narco News came at a perfect time for me. I was between jobs and my desperation was getting to a point where I was about to swallow the painful pill of a mainstream computer job when I was surprised by an announcement from my favorite independent newspaper Narco News! They were looking for someone just like me!
Is it now the perfect time for you?
A better thing never happened for me. Not only was I working for a great independent news source, I was also going to get to live in Latin America like I had wanted for years before. Once I made the move, I was not disappointed.
In a whirlwind my life changed and eight days after being accepted as the new Narco News webmaster my feet were on Latin American soil. I met Chris Fee, who would become my wo-worker and friend in the next four years, and Narco News founder and publisher Al Giordano upon arrival.
At the time Narco News was in the middle of reporting on the Zapatista’s national listening tour in Mexico called “The Other Campaign,” so the newsroom was already busy and bustling. But that wasn’t good enough for our training, and almost on queue upon our arrival something big broke in from Oaxaca – the true crash-course training had begun. For the next few weeks I learned on-the-run how to post and review breaking news coming from the barricaded streets of Oaxaca. I learned the process that an article went through before being published on front page of the Narco News Bulletin and how we make sure that our readers are alerted to new articles and Narcosphere notebook submissions. I felt right at home in my new city and as part of the Narco News project.
Since then we have grown by quite a bit with the addition of Al Giordano’s reporting of US politics on The Field while Narco News continues practicing Authentic Journalism in Mexico and the rest of Latin America. This growth has required us to upgrade to newer, more advanced servers twice in order to keep up with demand. Along with the hardware changes also came a facelift and a move to a new management system for the Narcosphere – the Drupal CMS. We’ve added hundreds of new Narco News co-publishers since our transition and continue to grow. Oh, and did I mention the 2010 School of Authentic Journalism?
The perks of being the webmaster and general techie are many. You’re becoming part of the revolution in the media by breaking the information blockade of commercial media. Your repertoire of experience will grow significantly as you head your own projects through research to its execution. I had the opportunity to prepare the wireless network for the 2010 School of Authentic Journalism, which including wiring two hotels for full wi-fi access throughout.
It’s not all glitter, though. The job requires long nights when the breaking story comes in late and requires a full work-up of photos, links and editing before being published on the front page. You need to be “on-call” every day all day, ready to get to your computer in a reasonable time in case the big story breaks. And the pay is laughable, but enough to survive and outweighed by what you learn and the experiences you have.
Now the opportunity arises for another radical techie to take the digital reigns of webmaster for Narco News and all its sites, which include the Narcosphere, The Field, The Fund for Authentic Journalism website and the brand-new Narco News TV project!
The Job Description
Daily responsibilities would include:
- Laying out texts in HTML for web publication.
- Preparing digital photos for web publication.
- Preparing digital video for web publication.
- Propagating published works throughout the Internet.
- Overseeing all technical aspects of the online newspaper using
Narco News’ custom content management system (will require PHP programming ability).
- Maintaining the Narcosphere online community, using the Drupal content management system.
- Maintaining the Narco News web server, a dedicated Debian Linux server running Apache2.
- Creating and maintaining a wireless network while providing technical support for professors and students during the School of Authentic Journalism.
- Being on-call. Putting the daily and nightly priorities of one’s work with Narco News ahead of any and all other responsibilities, be they professional, political or personal.
- Nightly responsibilities (this means that if a major story is breaking or developing on the night that the best party in town is happening, the webmaster skips the party and remains at his or her post).
- Developing good working relationships with all of our writers and running all significant edits by them prior to publishing words under their bylines (this is one of the qualities that makes Narco News so very different from most other Commercial or alternative media).
- Spell-checking every text published and correcting any errors.
- Posting the stories in an attractive form, often with photos or artwork, and then re-reading each story again and again to catch and fix any initial errors.
- Answering a lot of email correspondence from correspondents and readers; forwarding others to those who can best answer them, and following up to make sure they are answered.
- Writing captions for photos and making sure credit is duly given.
- Abstention from any and all electoral political militancy in any party or any country and especially keeping Narco News’ work free of such concerns: Narco News is often “political” but it is never “electoral.” We sometimes report about elections (and election fraud) but are never part of any party’s electoral campaign.
- Adding many links to original source information within the texts published on Narco News, especially to previous Narco News reports on the same themes.
- Developing a totality of historic memory of ten years of Narco News reports and history, to be able to know, instinctively, what pre-existing information can be linked from new stories.
- Helping individual co-publishers use the Narcosphere.
- Graphic design of banners, maps, images and fundraising graphs.
- Other communications tasks that are necessary for our publications and our School of Authentic Journalism.
See also Al Giordano’s additional words about the webmaster job at Narco News.
We don’t have an application for the position. Instead, we invite all interested to write us a letter, in English or Spanish, that explains why you would like to work with Narco News, what skills you bring with you and some skills you hope to learn here.
You can be of any age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or political tendency as long as you feel it is in harmony with the mission of Narco News. You need to be ready to pack up and head to “somewhere in América” to do this job or you can already be here.
To apply, email firstname.lastname@example.org by September 30 (although we’d love to find you sooner than that).
I look forward to hearing from you!
David B. Briones
Director of Cyber Development
The Narco News Bulletin
Lea Ud. el Artículo en Español
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