Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Inner Journalist

The year 2007 will mark the re-emergence of my Inner Journalist. I moved from snapping pictures to podcasting to posting video clips on the Internet through YouTube, all under the auspices of the Peace Education Center. Now I’m blogging, too, on the web with the “pen” name Rico Thomas Rico. What else is there to do with my spare time? Shovel snow?

There are very few sides to my personality that my wife, Ruth, has not met, and one is my Inner Journalist. The other side she met in recent years is my Inner Ailurophile. We were married a good number of years before we started volunteering at the Capital Area Humane Society (CAHS). Up to that point, Ruth and I had never had any pets, nor ever discussed the topic. My family in Saginaw had cats, dogs, and a chameleon. Ruth’s family never had any pets.

You can imagine Ruth’s surprise when we adopted our first cat, Sassy. We followed by adopting Thumper, who was one step away from being taken home by Claudia the Cat Lady. So, now, let’s just say we have a house full of fur – and it’s not a mink coat for Ruth. If Ruth married me for my bling-bling, all she got was ching-ching. The vet gets the bling-bling.

The Citizen-Journalist
I never imagined when 2007 started that I would interview and report on social activists like Antonia Juhasz, Ray McGovern, Patrick Barrett, Peter Dougherty, Ann Wright, David Cobb, David Korten, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, and many others. I’ve had to shake off the rust on-the-fly. My journalistic training, instincts, and nose for news have been slowly returning. I tell Ruth, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

The growth of the citizen-journalist is partly the result of affordable technology, including cameras, recording devices, computers, the Internet, etc. More importantly, it is the result of the “professionals” not doing their jobs well and sometimes not at all. With a little initiative, I’ve found that you can easily scoop the professional press in this town and elsewhere. “Reporters” from the corporate media are constrained by the boundaries they are allowed to cover; they can’t stray too far into the neighborhoods or the truth without getting burned by their editors or corporate HQ or the local power elite. From what I can tell, these corporate reporters hardly venture out into the streets on weekends or evenings, unless they are covering high school sports. As I see it, these corporate reporters are pre-screened “professionals” who are paid to be local establishment cheerleaders, who have the strong tendency to ignore the obvious.

I expect big things from local citizen-journalists in the Greater Lansing area in 2008. I especially look forward to the launch of the local progressive magazine, Amplifx, which is backed by the Center for American Progress. You can also expect to see more Indy media (“independent media”) emanating from the Peace Education Center. As these progressive voices expand their coverage into our homes and neighborhoods, I’ll make this prediction: The status quo’s gonna start to shake and some fur’s gonna fly.

-- Rico Thomas Rico

Who You Callin' A News Hound?

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