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GBH cuts claim three local TV shows, including its only Black-oriented program

Photo (cc) 2019 by Dan Kennedy

There are many things to say about the cuts announced Wednesday at GBH, so pardon the random nature of this post. As Aidan Ryan reports in The Boston Globe, 31 employees were laid off, comprising 4% of the staff. Now, 4% doesn’t sound like a lot, especially at a large operation that encompasses national and local programming across television, radio and digital. But management chose to decimate its local TV operation covering news and public affairs. “Greater Boston,” a Monday-to-Thursday program featuring interviews with newsmakers, was canceled; so were two weekly shows, “Basic Black” and “Talking Politics.” All told, a reported 10% of the cuts came at GBH News, as the local operation is known.

Shuttering “Basic Black” is inexplicable. Originally called “Say Brother,” it was GBH’s only local television show devoted to covering the region’s communities of color. There’s nothing in the regular radio lineup, either. This is an abdication of GBH’s responsibilities as a public media institution supported by grants, donations from “viewers like you” and taxpayer dollars. Yes, I know that chief executive Susan Goldberg says the three shows will come back as digital programs, but no one knows what that’s going to look like.

“Talking Politics” was a weekly program on local politics and public policy ably hosted by Adam Reilly, with whom I worked both at The Boston Phoenix and, later, at GBH News. It was launched after the August 2021 cancellation of “Beat the Press with Emily Rooney,” an award-winning program I was part of almost from its inception in 1998. There’s a lot I could say about the decision to end “Beat the Press,” but I’ll leave it at this: The program was pulling in strong viewership numbers right up to the end, and I still hear from people wherever I go who lament its passing.

Getting rid of “Greater Boston” strikes me as a rerun of past events. The show, with Emily Rooney at the helm, was created in 1997, six years after the cancellation of “The Ten O’Clock News,” which was anchored by Christopher Lydon and Carmen Fields. Emily presided over a compelling program characterized by her intelligence and quirky appeal. But let’s not forget that it was also cheaper to produce than “The Ten O’Clock News,” which was a full-fledged newscast. (I wrote about those early days in a long Phoenix feature.) “Beat the Press” was born a year later when the Friday slot became available and Emily was able to fulfill her ambitions of putting a media-criticism show on the air.

As Emily moved closer to retirement age, she gave up “Greater Boston” while keeping “Beat the Press.” Jim Braude, who also co-hosts GBH’s “Boston Public Radio” with Margery Eagan, took her place and proved to be popular and successful in that slot. But he gave it up in 2022 in order to concentrate on radio, and “Greater Boston” has been helmed by a rotating series of hosts ever since. One of those irregulars was Adam, and I was on with him May 15 to talk about “What Works in Community News,” the book I wrote with Ellen Clegg. We knew cuts were coming, but I certainly didn’t realize I’d be one of the last guests.

Another observation: From the moment that WBUR Radio and GBH reported financial problems earlier this year, some have questioned whether Boston could accommodate two news-focused public radio stations. In April, two dozen people took early-retirement buyouts at ’BUR while another seven were laid off. The Globe’s Ryan even raised the possibility that the two radio stations could merge.

So it’s striking that when GBH finally brought down the hammer, it was on the television rather than the radio side. Of course, television is much more expensive, and the entire institution reportedly had an operating deficit of $18.7 million last year. Still, it seems like an odd choice given that GBH has no direct public television competition while on radio it lags well behind ’BUR.

The day of reckoning at GBH also came just two days after GBH News general manager Pam Johnston announced she was leaving after four years of running all local programming — radio, television and digital. And her departure, in turn, followed a Globe story in February by Mark Shanahan in which he reported that Johnston ran a newsroom beset by turmoil and a toxic culture.

Sadly, all of this comes just as GBH News had won its first Peabody Award, for its excellent “The Big Dig” podcast. Ambitious, deeply reported podcasts are expensive, and even the best of them draw relatively small audiences — so it could be a while before we hear anything like it again.

Finally, being a part of GBH News for many years was one of the highlights of my career. My roles over the course of 24 years included being a panelist on “Beat the Press,” writing a column for the GBH News website and appearing occasionally on radio. Wednesday was a sad day. My best wishes to those who lost their jobs and to my friends and former colleagues who are still employed.

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A great night in Dorchester

Many thanks to Joyce Linehan, who hosted Ellen Clegg and me for a book reading for “What Works in Community News” Monday evening in her Dorchester home. About 70 people atternded, including some old friends from The Boston Phoenix. Among the highlights: Ed Forry, founder of the Dorchester Reporter, showed up, bearing a copy of the Reporter’s 40th anniversary edition. I asked him to sign it.

Joyce has been hosting book readings since 2015, and here, in her newsletter, she explains how she does it. She certainly knows what she’s doing, and Ellen and I were honored to be her guests. And the Celtics won!

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Poynter reviews ‘What Works,’ pairing it with a book by old friend Brant Houston

Bill Mitchell has a kind review at Poynter Online of our book, “What Works in Community News,” pairing it with Brant Houston’s “Changing Models for Journalism.” He writes:

In practical terms, they are essential reading for anyone considering a news startup. For most people, journalist or not, launching a news venture without consulting these volumes invites the sort of outcome awaiting a novice cook attempting a French feast sans recipe.

Mitchell really gets what co-author Ellen Clegg and I are up to, noting that the book is the hub of a larger enterprise that includes a podcast, updates to our website and, last month, a conference on local news at Northeastern University that drew about 100 participants.

Also, a fun fact: Brant was my editor when I started working as a stringer at The Daily Times Chronicle in Woburn, Massachusetts, in 1979. Not long after I started, he told me that he was thinking about leaving, and that if I stuck around, I might be able to take his job. And so I did, working at the paper for 10 years before kicking around for a while and eventually landing at The Boston Phoenix.

Brant has also been a guest on our podcast.

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How Larry Lucchino saved The Boston Phoenix — and how the Phoenix saved Fenway Park

Larry Lucchino, right, celebrates the Red Sox’ 2013 World Series win. Photo (cc) 2013 by Alicia Porter.

Former Red Sox president Larry Lucchino, who died Tuesday at the age of 78, not only saved Fenway Park — he also saved The Boston Phoenix. His friend and former Red Sox executive Charles Steinberg recalled in an interview with WBUR Radio earlier this week that he once asked Lucchino whether he planned to replace the ancient ballpark. Lucchino’s response: “You don’t destroy the Mona Lisa! You preserve the Mona Lisa!”

In the years before the John Henry-Tom Werner group bought the Red Sox in 2001, the fate of Fenway Park was far from clear. The previous owner — a trust set up by the late Jean Yawkey and headed by Yawkey confidant John Harrington — wanted to build a new ballpark farther south on Brookline Avenue. And that would have required the razing of 126 Brookline Ave., an office building owned by Phoenix publisher Stephen Mindich. The building’s second and third floors were occupied by the Phoenix.

Mindich declared war on Harrington’s plans, and the Phoenix was mobilized on his behalf. My friend Seth Gitell and I as well as others, including future Wall Street Journal sports columnist Jason Gay, inveighed against the proposal, arguing that a new ballpark would be better suited to a different neighborhood, such as what is now the Seaport District but was then a barren landscape of parking lots.

One of the last stories we published before the Red Sox were sold came in December 2001. Written by Seth and me, it includes this:

But if the winner of this high-stakes sweepstakes has yet to be named, it’s already clear who the loser will be. Us. Us as in baseball fans. Us as in taxpaying citizens. Us as in ordinary people who occasionally enjoy the simple pleasure of attending a game at the ballpark or tuning in the Sox on TV without having to pay through the nose.

Well, we were certainly right about the cost of attending a game and of NESN cable fees.

There were all kinds of names being bandied about at that time, including cable magnate Charles Dolan as well as local favorites Joe O’Donnell and Steve Karp. Dolan was thought to favor keeping Fenway, telling The Boston Globe: “If they can’t watch the game here, they can watch it on TV.”

But the Henry group was coming together, and it was clear that then-Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig was hoping to steer the sale Henry’s way. That’s exactly what happened later that month, with Lucchino brought in as part of the ownership group and emerging as the main cheerleader for refurbishing Fenway Park rather than demolishing it. As the force behind Baltimore’s retro Camden Yards, the first of the new generation of classic ballparks, Lucchino was the ideal person to lead that effort.

The Phoenix was saved, at least for the time being; it shut down in 2013, falling victim to the economic forces that had been battering the newspaper business. Henry bought the Globe later that year and slowly transformed it into a growing and profitable paper. And the Red Sox, playing in the iconic ballpark that John Harrington wanted to tear down, won World Series in 2004, 2007, 2013 and 2018, although they are currently in the midst of an uncertain rebuilding process.

Larry Lucchino deserves credit for giving the Phoenix another dozen good years. And Stephen Mindich, who died in 2018, deserves some credit for saving Fenway Park in the years before Lucchino arrived on the scene.

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Was Henry Kissinger a war criminal? More than 20 years ago, Christopher Hitchens submitted his brief

Nixon and Kissinger in the Oval Office. 1973 photo by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Somehow Henry Kissinger made it to 100 without getting shipped off to The Hague. When word came down Wednesday evening that the Nixon-era secretary of state had died, many were predicting that the media would slobber all over him. I see little evidence of that today, with The New York Times and The Washington Post featuring Kissinger’s ugly side as well as his accomplishments. Rolling Stone headlined its Kissinger obit, written by Spencer Ackerman, “Henry Kissinger, War Criminal Beloved By America’s Ruling Class, Finally Dies”— shades of the magazine’s classic Richard Nixon obit by Hunter S. Thompson, “He Was a Crook.”

More than 20 years ago, the late journalist Christopher Hitchens wrote a two-part essay for Harper’s that was later expanded into a book, “The Trial of Henry Kissinger.” Hitchens argued that the former secretary of state had committed war crimes in Cambodia, Chile and elsewhere and should be brought to trial. It wasn’t a novel argument even then, but Hitchens pulled together the strands in a compelling manner, even if he didn’t quite make the case that Kissinger should be arrested and sent to the Netherlands.

I wrote a lengthy overview of Hitchens’ case against Kissinger for The Boston Phoenix on March 8, 2001. If you’re looking for an antidote to the tributes coming Kissinger’s way, I hope you’ll find this worth your time.

Kissinger accused

Journalist Christopher Hitchens reminds us once again of the horrors that Henry wrought in Chile, Cambodia, Vietnam and elsewhere

By Dan Kennedy | The Boston Phoenix | March 8, 2001

Henry Kissinger may be the only living American who is casually described — at least in certain liberal and leftish circles — as a “war criminal.” In his heyday, during the Nixon and Ford years, Kissinger was a media superstar, the man behind the opening to China and détente with the Soviet Union. He even won a Nobel Peace Prize for helping to end the Vietnam War. But those triumphs have long since been supplanted in the public’s memory by a darker vision.

To the extent that Kissinger is thought of at all these days, it is for his leading role in the secret bombings of Cambodia during the Vietnam War and in the removal and subsequent murder of Chilean president Salvador Allende, a socialist who had the temerity to win a democratic election. Kissinger biographies, most notably Seymour Hersh’s “The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House” (Summit Books, 1983) and Walter Isaacson’s “Kissinger: A Biography” (Simon & Schuster, 1992), long ago laid bare most of the details of those and other foreign misadventures.

Now comes Christopher Hitchens with a new, devastating portrayal of Kissinger. There’s no insult in observing that Hitchens offers little new information. Hitchens’ journalistic specialties are synthesis and polemicism, not investigative reporting. In a two-part, 40,000-word essay published in the February and March issues of Harper’s, Hitchens makes his purpose clear: to examine Kissinger’s career anew, and thus to show that the now-elderly diplomat committed war crimes — that Kissinger, in Hitchens’ view, knew about and in some cases actively helped plan terrible acts of assassination and mass killings, for which he may yet be called to account.

Remembering 9/11

I posted this on Threads a little while ago. And here’s the piece that I wrote for the Phoenix.

Greater Boston arts and local news get a boost from three new nonprofit projects

There’s good news about local news in Greater Boston today on three fronts. I’ll start with an attempt to revive arts reviews — at one time a staple of mainstream and alternative publications, but now relegated to niche outlets like The Arts Fuse, a high-quality website edited by Boston University professor and former Boston Phoenix arts writer Bill Marx.

Recently Paul Bass, the executive director of the nonprofit Online Journalism Project in New Haven, Connecticut, launched a grant-funded project called the Independent Review Crew (link now fixed). Freelancers in seven parts of the country are writing about music, theater and other in-person cultural events. Boston is among those seven, and freelance writer-photographer Sasha Patkin is weighing in with her take on everything from concerts to sand sculpture.

You can read Patkin’s work on the Review Crew’s website — and, this week, her reviews started running on Universal Hub as well, which gives her a much wider audience. Here’s her first contribution.

Bass is the founder of the New Haven Independent, started in 2005 as part of the first wave of nonprofit community websites. The Online Journalism Project is the nonprofit umbrella that publishes the Indy and a sister site in New Haven’s northwest suburbs; it also oversees a low-power radio station in New Haven, WNHH-LP. Before 2005, Bass was a fixture at the now-defunct New Haven Advocate, an alt-weekly that, like the Phoenix, led with local arts and was filled with reviews. The Review Crew is his bid to revive the long lost art, if you will, of arts reviewing.

Other places that are part of The Review Crew: New Haven; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Troy/Albany, New York; Oakland, California; Hartford, Connecticut; and Northwest Arkansas (the Fayetteville metro area is home to about 576,000 people).

I’ve got all kinds of disclosures I need to share here. I gave Bass some guidance before he launched The Review Crew — not that he needed any. The Indy was the main subject of my 2013 book “The Wired City,” and I’ve got a lengthy update in “What Works in Community News,” the forthcoming book that Ellen Clegg and I have written. I also suggested Universal Hub to Bass as an additional outlet for The Review Crew; I’ve known Gaffin for years, and at one time I made a little money through a blogging network he set up. Gaffin was a recent guest on the “What Works” podcast.

In other words, I would wish Paul the best of luck in any case, but this time I’ve got a bit more of a stake in it.

***

The Phoenix was not the city’s last alt-weekly. For nearly a decade after the Phoenix shut down in 2013, DigBoston continued on with a mix of news and arts coverage. Unfortunately, the Dig, which struggled mightily during COVID, finally ended its run earlier this year. But Dig editors Chris Faraone and Jason Pramas are now morphing the paper into something else — HorizonMass, a statewide online news outlet. Pramas will serve as editor-in-chief and Faraone as editor-at-large, with a host of contributors.

HorizonMass will publish as part of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, founded by Faraone and Pramas some years back to funnel long-form investigative coverage to a number of media outlets, including the Dig. HorizonMass will also have a significant student presence, Pramas writes, noting that the project’s tagline is “Independent, student-driven journalism in the public interest.” Pramas adds:

With interns working with us as reporters, designers, marketers, and (for the first time) editors, together with our ever-growing crew of professional freelance writers, we can continue to do our part to train the next generation of journalists while covering more Bay State happenings than ever before. We hope you enjoy our initial offerings and support our efforts with whatever donations you can afford.

***

Mark Pothier, a top editor at The Boston Globe, is leaving the paper to become the editor and CEO of the Plymouth Independent, a well-funded fledgling nonprofit. Pothier, a longtime Plymouth resident and former musician with the band Ministry, is already listed on the Independent’s masthead. Among the project’s advisers is Boston Globe journalist (and my former Northeastern colleague) Walter Robinson, also a Plymouth resident, who was instrumental in the launch of the New Bedford Light. Robby talked about the Plymouth Independent and other topics in a recent appearance on the “What Works” podcast.

Pothier started working at the Globe in 2001, but before that he was the executive editor of a group of papers that included the Old Colony Memorial, now part of the Gannett chain. When Gannett shifted its Eastern Massachusetts weeklies to regional coverage in the spring of 2022, the Memorial was one of just three that was allowed to continue covering local news — so it looks like Plymouth resident are about to be treated to something of a news war.

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The Boston Globe announces it will seek to fill a void by hiring a media reporter

The Boston Globe is hiring a media reporter, a position that has gone vacant for many years. It sounds like a great job, though so broad you have to wonder who could possibly keep up with so much:

Part tech beat, part culture writing, part buzzy local scoops, this job calls for a journalist who’s eager and able to explore the many ways that media shapes modern life, in Boston and beyond. They will cover our region’s advertising and publishing industries and keep an eye on the bold-faced names of local TV, yes. But they’ll also dive into the endless evolution of social media, debates over digital privacy, and the roiling challenges of misinformation in all its forms, from Twitter and Threads to TikTok and new platforms using artificial intelligence.

The Globe has not had a full-time media reporter since Mark Jurkowitz, who left in 2005 and took over the media column at The Boston Phoenix after I left for Northeastern. Mark, who had also been my predecessor at the Phoenix, is now at the Pew Research Center.

This is good news, as we really have a dearth of media reporting in Boston. That dearth has been especially acute since GBH-TV canceled “Beat the Press with Emily Rooney” in the summer of 2021, but there really hasn’t been much in terms of in-depth reporting since the Phoenix closed in 2013. The Globe has taken a couple of stabs at it but did not make a full commitment until now.

The Portland Phoenix, revived in 2019, makes its final flight

Media Nation is back. It’s not quite where I want it to be yet, but it’s good enough to resume posting. Look for more improvements in the days to come.

Unfortunately, I’m here to report some sad news. The Portland Phoenix, the last of the Phoenix newspapers where I worked for many years, has ceased publication. Editor Marian McCue’s farewell editorial begins:

It was easy to have a sense of optimism in the spring of 2019. It was a different time, when former Forecaster publisher Karen Wood and I hatched a plan to launch a new version of the Portland Phoenix, which had folded in February of that year. We wanted to build a strong and independent news alternative to the media monopoly that controlled the Press Herald and many of Maine’s newspapers.

Our timing was not great. Five months after the launch, the pandemic struck with a vengeance. Few alive had seen such a cataclysmic event, much was unknown and everybody was fearful. The advertising relationships we had suddenly vanished. We tried to keep going, but the advertising was not there.

The flagship Boston Phoenix closed in 2013. At one time there were Phoenix papers in Providence, Portland, Worcester as well as Stuff magazine, Stuff@Nite and an alternative rock radio station, WFNX. The Portland Phoenix staggered on under new ownership until 2019, and was then relaunched by McCue and Wood. The new Portland Phoenix was redesigned and built a reputation for quality journalism. In the end, it wasn’t enough.

I hope someone else will give it a try. Portland is a medium-size, semi-isolated city with a strong arts community — exactly the sort of place where an alt-weekly can still find a niche. And let’s not forget that Portland recently got some very good news, as the state’s largest daily, the Portland Press Herald, and most of its affiliated papers will be acquired by the nonprofit National Trust for Local News.

Al Giordano, 1959-2023

Al Giordano (via Facebook)

On Monday evening I received some sad news: Al Giordano, who was the political columnist at The Boston Phoenix in the mid-1990s, had died in Mexico, where he’d made his home for many years. The cause was lung cancer, according to retired Boston Globe editor Matt Storin, who was Al’s uncle.

For a time, I was Al’s editor at the Phoenix, so I had the honor of working with him directly. He was difficult and brilliant, a unique voice that we needed then and need even more now. Later I followed his journalism at NarcoNews.com, which covered the misguided U.S. war on drugs from the Mexican point of view. He kept up his political punditry as well, and trust me when I tell you that it was good stuff. He and I stayed in touch sporadically, and he had a standing invitation to speak to my students on one of his periodic forays to the States; sadly, we were never able to make that happen. Al was 64 at the time of his death.

Al wrote a vibrant 4,000-word essay about the importance of the Phoenix shortly after it folded in 2013. You can (and should) read it here. Below is a tribute to Al written by his friends at the Fund for Authentic Journalism, another one of Al’s projects. I don’t believe it’s still in existence, but if I find out otherwise, I’ll let  you know. The tribute, by the way, was published in a friends-only post on Facebook, but his board has given people permission to share it publicly.

***

Al Giordano, 1959-2023
(En español abajo)

Al Giordano passed away Monday evening, July 10, in Mexico. He was at home, in his own bed, with friends at his side, as a hard rain came down on the land.

Al was a gifted journalist and organizer with a keen mind and the courage of his convictions. Those talents, and a lot of hard work and lived experience, allowed Al to seemingly see around the corners of history to place himself at the headwaters of seismic world change.

Al did this repeatedly over the decades, in the U.S., Latin America and beyond, often at great personal risk, but never without a sharp sense of strategy aimed at the goal. He was the John Reed of our era. He was there when the world shook to tell us why it was shaking.

Al was an active participant in some of the most consequential moments of political and social change of the last 50 years as an organizer, a journalist or an advisor. As a young organizer in the 1970s, he helped freeze the expansion of the nuclear power industry as part of the “Clamshell Alliance,” which staged successful anti-nuclear demonstrations at the then-proposed Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire. The campaign overcame great odds and ignited a “No Nukes” movement that inspired similar alliances and actions against proposed and existing nuclear power plants nationwide.

Al went on to work on John Kerry’s first Senate campaign, before becoming legendary organizer Abbie Hoffman’s apprentice in the trenches — working on organizing campaigns in Pennsylvania, Nicaragua and elsewhere. He was among the first U.S.-born journalists to document the Zapatista Army for National Liberation’s 1994 indigenous uprising.

To support that effort and to document the failed U.S. War on Drugs in Mexico and throughout Latin America, Al created the online newspaper Narco News. The trailblazing news service scored a historic victory for online press freedom in the United States when Citibank unsuccessfully sued Al in a New York court over his drug war coverage. In its ruling, the court established precedent extending the same freedom of speech protections to online journalists as enjoyed by traditional print media.

For over 14 years, and with the support and participation of dozens of collaborators, Al also ran a workshop for journalists and organizers to share strategies for the effective and strategic coverage of social movements, an effort that created effective networks with global reach among its participants, which remain active to this day. Al also garnered substantial attention for his prescient coverage of the “Obama paradigm shift” in the runup to the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, and he created an online manual for nonviolent revolution after his in-country coverage of the uprising against Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Al’s death is a shock in the sense that he left us far too soon. But Al had been dealing with ongoing health issues for some time, even after beating back cancer several years ago. Death is never comforting, but it is relief for those enduring serious, chronic health problems. The journey, which includes both emotional and physical pain, is the hard part.

Al lived life hard and fast. That’s how it came at him. But every moment of it mattered to Al, as did winning the good fight. He literally changed the world with his organizing and journalism work. The list of his great accomplishments is long, and his impressive legacy only now launched on a journey of its own.

Even Al couldn’t outrun the reaper. None of us can. But damn, he gave life one hell of a good ride.

Al died on his own terms, still speaking his truth to power and working to organize other people to do the same, so that an even bigger truth rises. His work will live on far past his critics’ last gasps.

All we can do now is use our grief as inspiration for doing what Al would surely want us to continue doing — living authentically and in pursuit of a better world for all. We should also definitely find some time now to honor Al’s life in a manner that works for each of us, to celebrate what Al has left behind for us to build upon.

We all have to keep pushing forward for as long as time permits. Al once said as much, “Authenticity is not the easiest path in life, but it’s the only path that leads forward.”

Al Giordano ¡Presente!

Friends of Al
And the board of directors of the Fund for Authentic Journalism
Doug Wilson, President
Bill Conroy, Treasurer
Wendy Foxmyn, Fund Administrator

———————-

Al Giordano, 1960-2023

Al Giordano falleció la pasada noche del lunes 10 de julio en México. Estaba en su casa, en su propia cama, con amigos a su lado, mientras una fuerte lluvia caía sobre la tierra.

Al fue un periodista y organizador talentoso, con una mente acuciosa y el coraje de sus convicciones. Esas habilidades, junto con mucho trabajo arduo y experiencia vivida, permitieron que Al aparentemente vislumbrase los giros de la historia para situarse en la cabecera de transformaciones mundiales de gran impacto.

Al hizo esto en repetidas ocasiones a lo largo de las décadas, en los Estados Unidos, América Latina y más allá, a menudo enfrentando grandes riesgos personales, pero nunca sin un agudo sentido de la estrategia dirigido al objetivo. Fue el John Reed de nuestra era. Estuvo presente cuando el mundo tembló para contarnos por qué temblaba.

Al participó activamente en algunos de los momentos más trascendentales de cambio político y social de los últimos 50 años, ya sea como organizador, periodista o asesor. Como joven organizador en la década de 1970, ayudó a frenar la expansión de la industria de la energía nuclear como parte de la “Alianza Clamshell”, que llevó a cabo exitosas manifestaciones antinucleares en la entonces propuesta planta de energía nuclear de Seabrook en Nuevo Hampshire. La campaña superó grandes obstáculos e impulsó un movimiento “No Nukes” que inspiró alianzas y acciones similares contra plantas de energía nuclear propuestas y existentes en todo el país.

Posteriormente, Al trabajó en la primera campaña al Senado de John Kerry, antes de convertirse en el aprendiz del legendario organizador Abbie Hoffman en las trincheras, trabajando en campañas de organización en Pensilvania, Nicaragua y otros lugares. Fue uno de los primeros periodistas nacidos en Estados Unidos en documentar el levantamiento indígena del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) en 1994.

Para apoyar ese esfuerzo y documentar la fallida “Guerra Contra las Drogas” de Estados Unidos en México y toda Latinoamérica, Al creó el periódico en línea Narco News. Este innovador servicio de noticias obtuvo una histórica victoria para la libertad de prensa en línea en Estados Unidos cuando Citibank demandó infructuosamente a Al en un tribunal de Nueva York por su cobertura de la guerra contra las drogas. En su fallo, el tribunal sentó un precedente que otorga a los periodistas en línea las mismas protecciones de libertad de expresión que disfruta la prensa impresa tradicional.

Durante más de 14 años, y con el apoyo y la participación de docenas de colaboradores, Al también dirigió un taller para periodistas y organizadores con el fin de compartir estrategias para la cobertura efectiva y estratégica de los movimientos sociales; un esfuerzo que creó redes efectivas con alcance global entre sus participantes, que siguen activas hasta el día de hoy. Al también obtuvo una atención considerable por su presciente cobertura del “cambio de paradigma de Obama” en la antesala de las elecciones presidenciales de Estados Unidos de 2008, y creó un manual en línea para la revolución no violenta después de su cobertura presencial del levantamiento contra el dictador egipcio Hosni Mubarak en 2011.

La muerte de Al es impactante en el sentido de que nos dejó demasiado pronto. Sin embargo, Al llevaba un tiempo lidiando con problemas de salud persistentes, incluso después de haber vencido el cáncer hace varios años atrás. La muerte nunca es reconfortante, pero sí es un alivio para aquellos que sufren problemas de salud graves y crónicos. El viaje, que incluye tanto dolor emocional como físico, es la parte difícil.

Al vivió la vida intensa y rápidamente. Así fue como se le presentó. Pero cada momento fue importante para Al, al igual que ganar la buena batalla. Literalmente cambió el mundo con su trabajo de organización y periodismo. La lista de sus grandes logros es extensa, y su impresionante legado apenas comienza a emprender su propio viaje.

Ni siquiera Al pudo burlar a la parca. Nadie puede. Pero vaya que le dio a la vida un paseo impresionante.

Al murió en sus propios términos, aún diciendo su verdad al poder y trabajando para organizar a otras personas para que hagan lo mismo, para que surja una verdad aún más grande. Su obra vivirá mucho más allá de los últimos suspiros de sus detractores.

Lo único que podemos hacer ahora es tomar parte de nuestra tristeza y canalizarla en lo que Al seguramente querría que continuáramos haciendo: vivir auténticamente y buscar un mundo mejor para todos. Definitivamente también deberíamos encontrar algo de tiempo ahora para honrar la vida de Al, de la manera que funcione para cada uno, para celebrar lo que Al nos ha dejado para construir.

Tenemos que seguir empujando hacia adelante mientras el tiempo lo permita. Al alguna vez dijo: “La autenticidad no es el camino más fácil en la vida, pero es el único camino que conduce hacia adelante”.

Al Giordano ¡Presente!

Amigos de Al
Y la junta directiva
del Fondo para el Periodismo Auténtico
Doug Wilson, Presidente
Bill Conroy, Tesorero
Wendy Foxmyn, Administradora del Fondo

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