Monday, December 13, 2004

The Day Journalism Died

Gary Webb is dead

Since hearing the news yesterday I've been trying to compose a tribute to Mr. Webb, but every time I start I just seize up in anger and frustration. The death of Gary Webb is a journalistic tragedy of the first order. It is a tragedy of the first order not just because he was an excellent journalists unfairly drummed out of the corps by an establishment media more interested in protecting their turf ("How dare some Podunk hack think he can break an important story like this?") than in actually committing journalism. It is also a tragedy because so many journalists won't even understand just how much of a tragedy is his death. That is how complete Webb's contribution has been expunged from the journalistic record.

If you want to understand Webb's contribution, buy, beg, borrow or steal his seminal work, Dark Alliance. Then understand this: for all the poo-poohing of this story by the establishment press, virtually all of Webb's original reporting has been shown to be correct (note: the story linked about about Webb's death continues the lies).

I think Don McLean expresses my feelings best in the song he wrote about the death of Buddy Holly:

A long, long time ago,
I can still remember how that music used to make me cry.
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while.
But February made me shiver,
With every paper I delivered.
Bad news on the doorstep.
I couldn't take one more step.
I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride.
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.

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