"We want all of you"
In my first installment, "Go big or go home", Part 1, I took us back to the prehistory of IWT/TRN, the courageous TV network that will search out the truth and bring it to a worldwide audience, uncompromised by money from corporations, advertisers, or governments.
In Part 2, "Oh, you mean the REAL news!", Part 2, Paul puts the REAL in The Real News.
In Episode III, "We'll go where the facts take us", Part 3, I followed Paul on a fact-finding tour.
In Number Four, "Seeking truth, not balance", Part 4, I told about how we gave IWT so much publicity in 2005 that the network had to hide from us for a year and a half.
In this final section, Paul tells us how he needs every single one of us.
AF: If you were looking for a certain number of supporters from Daily Kos, what kind of number would you be looking for?
PJ: [Laughs.] I have no idea. What's the readership now?
AF: I think it's in the millions. [Note: Readership per day seems to range somewhere between 400,000 and 500,000, so "half a million" would have been more accurate.]
PJ: All of them! Why not? Listen, people have a choice. They can get fed up, frustrated, and critique the old, or they can help us build something new. I know the political struggle that's going on in the U.S. is very real. A lot of people are impassioned, and necessarily so, dealing with the whole issue of the outcome of these elections. I'm not in any way diminishing the necessity of people getting into that partisan, political fray, but don't leave one's activity there. Everyone can see that, on the whole, the partisan politics are kind of paralyzed. It's very hard to find much optimism. We need to build an institution that can help build a real alternative way of talking and looking at the world, and help inspire a fresh new politics. We're not going to be that politics; we're about journalism, but if we can start a debate that breaks out of the confines of this narrow partisan politics, that's where the future's going to be. So in that sense, I can't see why every single person who reads Daily Kos wouldn't want to support us. We want all of you!
AF: Do you think there was a time when even the corporate media did a better job of coverage?
PJ: There've been times when it's been better, there've been times when it's been as bad. During the McCarthy period it was somewhat similar to the pre-Iraq war period. Vietnam saw a lot of gung-ho war coverage, but also, especially as the protest, anti-war movement developed, you saw some serious journalism on television. When you go back and look at who were the guests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the two pundits debating were William Buckley, Jr. and Gore Vidal. Well, Vidal can't get on television now. [AF: However, an interview with him is on the IWT website, speaking about the 2004 vote in Ohio.] So they were more open than now. It's partly about media consolidation, but also the White House and maybe the American political class - maybe not only American - learned a lesson after 9/11: That if fear and chauvinism/xenophobia get strong enough, you can really spook and intimidate television newsrooms. So right now, the Bush White House is wounded, so you're seeing a little bit of courage back in these newsrooms that were so cowed before. However, I don't think there's much doubt that if there's another Al-Qaeda attack, or war on Iran, you're going to see these newsrooms capitulate again. The economics dictate that you just can't stand up, because if you do, you're going to get fired. The corporations have too much at stake to allow a really courageous voice. So right now, you're seeing something that looks a little more like news on CNN. But wait. Next big crisis, they're going to cave again. With some exceptions: again, I've going to point out 60 Minutes. You've got to give them their due. They do some work which is really gutsy. So to sum up, I don't think there were some idyllic good old days, but these are particularly bad days.
AF: You're saying that there's no way, based on the economic model we have, to get better for-profit media.
PJ: In terms of the media reform effort, a lot depends on the state of domestic politics. Again, if there's war hysteria, no. If politics are a little bit more open, it leaves room. I really hope we have a positive effect on newsrooms in the corporate sense.. If we start to get a mass audience going, and then do the election integrity story one night, and people are talking about it, then the next day it makes it easier for somebody in one of the corporate newsrooms to say "Well, look, how can we NOT do this story? It got done last night in a very credible way. We're going to look stupid if we keep ignoring it." So I'm hoping we have a positive influence on those newsrooms.
AF: Are you going to be posting every show on the Internet?
PJ: Yes. The Internet's a big piece for us. Like I said, we want the website to be like a cable news channel. We're going to treat the website as if it's a channel.
AF: I'd like you to comment on "The Path to 9/11" and how that would differ from the kinds of things you'd do. It sounds like you might not do docudramas at all on your network.
PJ: We haven't really talked about it. If you start mixing so you don't know what's drama and what's actuality, then you've crossed the line. I wouldn't cross the line.
AF: What would differ?
PJ: In that particular story, I'd go after Clinton with great seriousness. Even more, if you want to blame 9/11 on somebody, you could do worse than starting with Brzezinski. Jimmy Carter and Brzezinski were the ones - and Brzezinski brags about it now - who sucked Russia into invading Afghanistan by arming some of these rural chieftains, who were fighting education reforms in Afghanistan. The pro-Communist government in Afghanistan had quite heavy-handedly and arbitrarily passed laws saying girls could work and go to school, and quite arbitrarily and heavy-handedly imposed it on the countryside, but it was U.S. policy that started arming these religious fundamentalists. Kabul was a relatively modern, educated place. Brzezinski brags about sucking Russia into invading Afghanistan and creating Russia's Vietnam. So much of the crap we're dealing with now is the consequence of that policy. And then go back another step. Who made the deal with the Saudis? Who set the whole pattern of allying with Wahhabism as a way to fight secularism, democracy, socialism, nationalism? It was Roosevelt. He's the one that made that deal that set the pattern for the next fifty, sixty years. So much of the roots of this foreign policy that's led to such a disaster starts with the Democratic Party in power. It's not just a Republican Party phenomenon. So when we go after these questions, we're going after the real roots of this, and not in a partisan way.
AF: But in an accurate way, and that's where you would differ.
PJ: Yes. I mean, we've been working on these questions for three years. Any one of them, I could discuss for quite a bit. We have this document on the web now: what's news, who is a newsmaker? Back to basics. Even the issue of what is news? We could do an interview on how you decide what news is. We want to have a very different criteria. We think people fighting for change is news. We think people who are creating models that show that there are solutions to problems is news. We don't just think the horserace for power or those that have power is news. They are news, for sure; but also, news is people fighting for change who don't have enormous power. We're developing this internal slogan, you know Carville's thing, "It's about the economy, stupid." Well, we're going to have an internal slogan, "It's about the solutions, stupid." There are solutions. The world's not doomed. It might be doomed if we don't take up some of these solutions, but there really are solutions out there. There is policy; people have thought through rational ways of confronting problems, and we think that needs to be news. So we're going to spend a lot of time highlighting those kinds of things
AF: Say that I'm addressing myself to a typical reader. What they can do is contribute, but what should they look for on your website, for instance? Is there any particular thing they should focus on? Or should they just browse?
PJ: They should read the business plan, read our documents, and understand where we're headed. Look at any of the interviews to give you a sense of it. We're redoing our video materials. We want people when they come to us to say, "Hey, that's journalism." We're not there yet. There's kind of a disconnect in some ways between the written documents and the video that's there to present, and we're aware of it. It's one of the reasons why we're not making too much noise right now. Even to do this interview, we kind of debated should we hold off until the website's closer to what we really want it to be? And our content's closer? I'm kind of relying on you and the sophistication of your readers to understand what stage we're at. I'd like them to understand that we don't think the website really speaks to what our promise is. It's close, but it ain't there yet. In a few months, it will be. Your readers, we hope, are the kind of people who like to be in on the whole process.
Thus concludes the interview. I thanked Paul for his time, and he thanked me.. I hope you will support IWT/The Real News and spread the word wide and far! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly (alanfordean AT-SIGN yahoo DOT com).