Left Coast Media

North Bae 013 - Being An Activist Reporter

February 26, 2018 Left Coast Media
Left Coast Media
North Bae 013 - Being An Activist Reporter
Show Notes Transcript
The second of Tiberius's conversations with the Mendocino Voice comrades about why the left needs its own news organizations and how activists need to interact with reporters

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Speaker 1:

Thank you for listening to North Bay, a podcast from the left coast media collective to connect with the show. Follow us on Twitter at left-pad or the hosts at a checker, informant commune or source and our our our, our n. You can email us@leftcoastpodcastatgmaildotcomandourpatrionisatpatrion.com slash left coast media. We love you.

Speaker 2:

Do you have any notes for Brown too?

Speaker 3:

No, they didn't change all up here. All right. And we are back round to North Bay and this is type areas, Caracas and we are again joined by Adrian Fernandez, Bauman Bauman. Hey, I got it this time and Kate Maxwell. Thanks for having us back again. Yeah. So if you, if you want to, I know it's been a very long time. Uh, if you guys want to remind or tell listeners who missed the last episode, like who you guys are and sort of what we're doing here today.

Speaker 2:

We are a reporter's work at in Mendocino county covering Mendocino county. And we weren't a small publication up there, which, uh, we started about a year and a half ago. We both used to work at big corporate chains in small rural areas, but they're big corporate chains. And uh, we were dissatisfied with that and so we spun off and we created our own thing. Last time we were talking about sort of broad structural critiques of, of journalism at the local level and how it has a capitalist bet and also those structural impediments to actually doing good journalism that capitalism creates. And I guess this time we're going to talk about more

Speaker 3:

praxis, right? Yeah. Oh, I forgot to say. Do you guys have, do you guys want to point people towards your, the work that you guys have been doing or for no. Okay.

Speaker 4:

Mendocino voice. Hopefully we're googleable yeah, we're also supportable if you're into being some kind of patron or something. We have tried to find ways to have the community support us so that we're not as bound to the traditional capitalist business models of newspapers like advertising. We've been sort of limping

Speaker 2:

for the last couple months. Yeah. Um, just we had to return to a side work for awhile and so the, our output decreased in the last few months. But we did a really good job on the fire. People really liked our fire cover.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. I think part of what we've talked about in the last episode was just, you know, the ways in which the current business models for newspapers do are very limiting for reporters in terms of resources. And, you know, we started a newspaper that, you know, I think our end goal is to create a workable model of a co workers co op for a newspaper. But, um, we're still very much in the experimental early stages and trying to figure out a way to do better local journalism, uh, and pay our rent, which are currently not totally the same thing, but we're getting there. So,

Speaker 3:

right. So coming at it from the opposite perspective than a lot of the people who we talked to on this show are activists, are, you know, people who aren't doing reporting themselves but who are interacting with reporters. And you know, one of the things that I have seen and you know, in talking to you, it just really confirms what, what I believe is that activists don't know how to interact with someone who doesn't share it, their politics specifically someone who is hostile and has a microphone. So I kind of want to like, I think in this this episode we should just really talk about like how to not screw up talking to reporters.

Speaker 4:

Well, and I want, I just want to add one quick thing to that is it's also can be a tricky that you may not know what, what your politics of your reporter, it may be difficult for that reporter to actually share their politics with you. So

Speaker 3:

I think, well, and I'm not talking about like the personal politics of the reporter, but the structural politics of the system that the reporter is in.

Speaker 2:

So can I start from a theoretical, more theory based standpoint? Go for it. Okay. So I think, I think one thing people need to understand, two big things about news. The first is news is governed by constraints. What becomes news is governed by how much time and resources the reporter has. Deadlines is huge. Laziness is huge. And just like human shittiness is, is, is big. So, uh, I think a lot of activists have this image of this big bad media, but you have to remember it's made up of fallible people, which is not to excuse them, but to point out that there are oftentimes doing dumb things out of dumbness or laziness more so than conspiracy or something like that.

Speaker 4:

Sometimes kids perfect. So sometimes doing dumb things out of, you know, a lack of resources or time, it's not always a just lack of willingness to go the extra mile. It can sometimes be really structurally difficult to, to go that mile. And so,

Speaker 2:

so I think remembering that is important. And then the other thing is, is sort of thinking about what news is and news is a, people have a lot of these, uh, you know, some people have like some sort of a capra ask idea of what the new should be or like a west wing idea of, of the news. But the news is, I like to think of the news is just like I said, genre of writing. It's like there's mystery writing and there's, you know, westerns and then there's news and the news is supposed to be based. In fact, it doesn't mean true. Yeah, right. It's based in fact.

Speaker 4:

Oh, one of the things that I like to say about facts is that there are a lot like assholes. Everybody has them and you'd be surprised how far they can stretch. Okay. Uh, canceling, uh,

Speaker 2:

so there's supposed to be based in fact that doesn't mean true. And then the, and then they follow a set of rules. Uh, you know, just the way that I like a mystery novel follows a set of rules about you have rising action and you have the McGuffin and you have this and that. News is good news falls a certain set of rules and they're there. It's different for daily Journalism, magazine, journalism, documentaries, TV news and stuff like that. But you know, if, if you think of it more like you're engaging with this, this sort of almost like pulp fiction creative work, instead of thinking that you're engaging with an August institution or conspiratorial propagandistic institution, I think that that's a better framing device. Um, and so once, once you look at that, John, are you, you can then sort of break down, okay, like what are, what are some components of that genre that are really important to pay attention to? And one really big thing, uh, is timeliness and news peg, it's timeliness is news is supposed to be new. It's supposed to be, news is supposed to be stuff that's happening. Now, a ton of news is not that, right? A ton of news is stuff that's been happening since the beginning of time or it's happening all the time or it's structural, right? But when you have things that are constant or structure or stuff, you have to find ways as a reporter to make it timely, right? So report it. Like if you're like, I, you know, in my experiences as a freelancing and trying to pitch stories to two editors, you'll go to an editor and you'll said this, there's this situation and it's screwed up and it's like this. And they'll say, sure. It's always been like that. That's not news. Where's the story? Right. So the mere fact that like a thing is happening and it's a bad or it's interesting, is not to make it news,

Speaker 3:

it's got to be timely and it's got to have a news peg.

Speaker 4:

I think that's something that can be particularly difficult to identify if there is sort of this bigger structural issue that you care about. And so if you say, you know, there's this ongoing problem with what is, what are we doing with the homeless camps around the county? And for someone that is involved in organizing around that or really cares about that from an activist perspective, they might see the latest move as just one more example in this larger, bigger issue that needs to be addressed from a bigger perspective. Whereas I think, you know, the reporter will need to say, oh, okay, there's gonna be some dramatic thing happening on Friday and that's going to be the moment that, you know, I need a picture of that thing happening on Friday and that's how I work in it. That's our entry into this subject. And we call that.

Speaker 3:

Right. And, and to particular rise it a couple. What is this now? I think, well, depending on when this goes out, like this, back in the, uh, uh, late December we had essentially a series of convictions of houseless people who are living underneath the overpass. And you know, we had a reporters out there and we're out there as, um, as essentially like legal observers and trying to make sure that, yeah, these, these cops are there to do violence against these people, but we're trying to make sure that, you know, to, to minimize the amount of actual violence that they do. Try to make sure that people actually can keep as many of their things as possible. And in talking to the, you know, your standard reporters, they just want to know about this very particular thing. They're going to write like maybe two column inches on it and then as a throwaway thing and not understand or, or not pay attention to that this is a, uh, a broader and systemic abuse against, you know, houses people that has been happening and the reason why they're there are these other issues that, you know, the city council has been doing for years and you know, this, this current ramp up as is part of a broader set of issues that had been happening. But the reporter who just wants to know about what is happening right there in front of them.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. And I know actually when, um, in terms of those actions, I had attended a couple of DSA meetings where people were talking about, okay, we know these evictions are coming. It's part of a longer pattern. How are we gonna do support around these things? And then I went at some point and in Mendocino county was like, oh, I wonder how that all worked out. I know there was supposed to be an action last week. I'm going to go look up and see if I can find newspaper articles about what happened and the things I were able to find. Um, you know, there's a huge disparity between this. What I had heard about was going was planned at the DSA meetings and what I could glean about what was actually going on from these articles. And so the articles just sort of said there was an eviction of the people living under the bridge and there were activists there and the activists got in the way and what the activists were doing there, who was there, why any activists would be involved was, was not a parent. And you know, I think that's a endlessly reprinting lies from the police about how they gave them, you know, vouchers for hotels that never materialized in any of the three days that we were in. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So there's a lot of steps to how that happens. There's a lot of parts of that. I think one of the things that reporters have a tendency, one, uh, there's a, there's a cultural within the profession, idea of objectivity of not having bias in a being balanced. And so if there's an activist there, you're going to have to get a quote from the non activists or the activists on the other side of things. And that's expected in, your editor wants you to do that. And if you don't do that and your editor is going to call you in and say, why don't you have the opposing quote? So there's a structural way in which it becomes very hard for an activist to actually get the full point across. And there's a, there's a real sense, I'm sorry, there's a real sense in which journalism as a genre is simply not supposed to do that. What you're asking, right. It's simply not supposed to do it. So, so people will then go, that reporters sucks, or that newspaper sucks. Fuck those people. They're just shitty at their job. No, they're not shitty at the job. That's what they're supposed to be doing. They might be shitty people, but that's an orthogonal Alecia. They're doing it what they're supposed to do. They're not supposed to come back with something radical. They're not supposed to publish something to the mainstream paper that's radical. That attacks a structural problem. The structural articles, a separate article, you know, it's a news analysis article to history. And of course an article that happens in the Sunday magazine insert, you know, but it's, it's not supposed to be in that main article because that article is just about facts, right? But then there's this fucking awful cognitive dissonance because the other half of it is in, in the press, and that more so than the public does. Everything's a story. You always talk about things in terms of story. It's like, oh, I wrote a story. You don't say, I wrote an article, said I wrote a story, I wrote a piece, I wrote a story. Is that a story? I found a great story. You know, you're always talking about story because you're aware that reporters are aware that they're storytellers. So it's supposed to be facts. It's based in facts, but it's gotta be a story.

Speaker 4:

And that means it's gotta be a timely thing that has these characters that bring people in in a particular way that has a certain kind of narrative structure that is not, you know, how reality is lived by any means, but you to have some kind of arc that's happening. And I think that's also why you'll see these very Lada Tori, like, oh, we did a, we're doing a special three part series on this particular issue. So at the corporate paper that I worked at, we did at one point a we're going to look at the counties mental health system and this is going to be a special group team effort where we're going. I do try and do a bigger look at mental health services in Mendocino county, but that was only after months of corruption issues of sort of many people trying to lodge these systemic complaints and about one provider in particular that you know, had only been treated as these one off. Oh this, this big thing happened this week with mental health services. And it took my editor more a year or more to say, okay, we'll take a couple hours a week and dedicate some team resources to looking at this in a bigger way. And that was kind of a battle. So when you see those things as just one off stories, it's him that's in part because of how people are trained and and encouraged to structure those into these kind of neat package.

Speaker 2:

So the, you know, that's a lot of the background of what the genre is. And so there's you, you need to have a news peg, you need to, it needs to be timely, it needs to be a story. The simplest sort of advice that you can give to people that are trying to get more things into the press is to present reporters with pre packaged narratives. Because narrative is, you know, you need a story in the narrative, gives you a story. And if you could bring, come to a reporter with a great narrative, a great story that's already in place. It has characters that have some sort of arc that's much more likely to get into a paper then then handing them a big thing of fucking statistics. Nobody wants to read statistics, you know, say, ah, look at all these statistics I got, look at his star, look at these structural things. I look at all these facts, you know, look at, I'll look at all this fact checking. I did. I went and I went to this public official. I figured out all the ways that he lied. Well even, no, no public officials lie. That's not a narrative

Speaker 4:

was the on that, you know, I I somebody that likes to read documents. I think unfortunately it's actually a tricky thing. You know, I will regularly go to meetings and people will say, Oh, I put together this whole packet for everyone and I'm giving this packet out to all the city council members. And as you know, as a reporter who has, part of your responsibility is to do fact checking. You know, I can read through that whole document, but then I, it's not actually responsible for me to just immediately, I can't just cut and paste what you put in.

Speaker 2:

I'm not saying create up

Speaker 4:

package, but people do. People do that.

Speaker 2:

I've seen have a narrative, like have a story you're telling, don't come. Don't come to the reporter unless you're very official. The cops can do this. The government can do this. Certain kinds of instant, the Brookings Institute can do it. And so here's the, here's our report on this thing. That's news. Unless you're, you have power already, you can't do that. And so if you hand a reporter, like I typed up this 10 page essay that's got all these faxes and that nobody, they're not going to read it because the other thing you have to be very careful. You don't want to seem like a crank because reporters deal with a lot of cranks. Yeah. Like in Mendocino County, we constantly have people telling us about your foes and there's a Ufo and there's, there's, you know the, the real thing is that there's all these supernatural UFO things happening and it, and it gets tedious and at some level you begin to be like, somebody will come to you with a legitimate issue. And I have had this happen when people come to me, we'll do the mission. I think that person is talking about Ufos. I don't want to listen to them. And then I'll like stop and listen. Oh wait, no, that's a real thing. I got to pay attention.

Speaker 4:

I'm part of why that gets difficult is because, you know, there, there are certain topics that some people, it might be easy to say, okay, this person's a crank, but there is a huge middle ground there where someone will say, I'm coming to you with this thing. It's not, it's not a thing that a lot of people know about, but I know about it and I think it's a big issue and I want you to look into it and you can't always tell immediately. You need to sort of, part of being a responsible journalist is doing that, those extra additional levels of fact checking. And so you say, okay, I'll even if it's, I'll take your packet full of statistics or I'll take your, I'll listen to you for an hour about the story about what happened to you in when the cops showed up. Whatever happened here, you know, you then the next step from that is you then have to do the work to sort through, okay, what can I there if I about this story, where can I go from there? And so

Speaker 2:

yeah, but reporters are going to give you an hour. Yeah. They're not going to give you an hour right off right off the bat. You know, you, you do like she's, she's very diligent and she's like listens to people really carefully, but you know, yeah, you're, you're, you're not the norm in that respect. Like most report, there are a lot of people that you'll listen to. The other people would've dismissed. My favorite example of this is when Snowden contacted Glenn Greenwald. Glenn Greenwald initially dismissed him as a crank and ignored him

Speaker 3:

for a long time. I have a local, I have a local story about that actually. So back last year I was part of a kind of a reading circle group trying to figure out how to do a lecture series for, um, uh, political education for the public. And it was, you know, to start out with, it was basically just this open conversation. Anybody who is on the peace and justice center mainly list could just, you know, show up and, you know, be a part of the conversation. We just talk about shit, whatever. And then one night this, this guy comes in, he, he, he's got this like literally just this like binder thick binder full of like documentation and Statistics and like, um, you know, public records and these kinds of things. And he's just like going on and on about how, uh, the, the city of Santa Rosa is collecting all of this. Um, information about everybody in the, in the city and I think the county as well. And it was all being stored with this private data security organism. A company who, uh, has these like really deep ties into the CIA and NSA and how this is, this is all part of like this, uh, a scheme to basically put intelligence analysts, uh, tentacles into literally every level of government. And, and the, the guys like the guy really was like out there. He really did sound like a crank, but going through and looking at it afterwards, like everything that he said that sounded wild, I'm like somebody else like who I actually trust has corroborated this.

Speaker 4:

Well that's, I think part of what I was trying to highlight is just, it can be tricky. I think, you know, I have definitely had people slip me secret documents that they got from the source and the uh, the county office that actually revealed that this company had broken all their permits and was dumping illegal waste into the river. We know there are definitely ways in which those kinds of more sexy, mysterious or you know, just whistle blowing things and people that initially sound like cranks turned out to be the people that bring that information to light. But as a, you know, there's this professional hazard of how much time do you have and who can you listen to? And I think the people that brought me those documents were people that I had already talked to over the course of the month. They had, you know, been, they'd worked with me and when I said, you know, I need, give me yours thing in five minutes, I need one quote from this article and then we can follow up on this. The next time they understood that I was a human too. And so,

Speaker 2:

so that means to, to take it from our experiences reporters in and create some sort of advice.

Speaker 4:

Right. How do we not sound like one thing.

Speaker 2:

So going off of what she said, one thing is availability, being available and not expecting that much. Unfortunately. Like it might take you a couple of months if you're the guy that can reliably produce the quote or the document or the interpretation, you might get quoted like in three different articles and then on the fourth or fifth one the report will be like, okay, I have some time to this time. Let's talk about deeper shit. The, the, the not, uh, not seeming like Craig is a problem. There's a, there's a, there's a weird correlator problem where people who could seem very normal at first, like everyone is secretly a milkshake duck that like, I remember I did a, I did this when I was in school. I did a story, some guys, the guy from a house fire and I went and found the guy that was like the Good Samaritan Dude. It's just like a classic daily journalism bullshit kind of thing where like I interviewed the Good Samaritan and it's just a little filler story, right? And then that guy, like he had a car and so he wanted to drive me around to all these places. I wound up spending the whole day with him and then he started calling me and hounding me to hang out. And then it turned out he was a musician and he was like, he thought he could get some publicity for me to start his music career backup. Right. And after I did that I was like, oh, I'm never going to be friendly with the source again. Cause I was when I was first starting starting. Right. And so people are Leery, like reporters are leery for good reason because we all have an experience where somebody ends up calling you at all hours.

Speaker 4:

No. And it's hard because when it's a subject that people are passionate about, they feel strongly about it, they feel like it's not being covered. It's an injustice that they want to see rectified. It. It can be hard not to sometimes sound like as Ella in certain ways.

Speaker 2:

No, I knew, I, I knew that somebody else, I knew another reporter and she was reporting, uh, and she would go to this synagogue and there was a guy there that was very knowledgeable, knowledgeable about the neighborhood. And he gave her like a couple of good tips. And then he started calling her in the middle of the night and telling her all this secret stuff that was Kamala stuff. He's like, oh, I figured out this numerical interpretation of the Torah and it says, what's going to happen on this block and this day. Anyways, every, every reporter has a story like that where you get, you do get very leery of that. And that feeds into another very problematic thing, which is reporters are by and large white and middle class. Uh, and so there's a lot of racial and class systemic bias that goes into how reporters make those snap judgments about who they're going to trust and who they're not going to trust. And I've been with other reporters where we, you know, we'll see a crowd of people and, and like they'll ignore the person that I think we should be talking to and not to make myself sound great or whatever. But like there's, there's all, you see these biases happen in real time and that that produces the news that produces the, the narrow group of people that you're going to talk to. Right. In any logically. That's true too.

Speaker 4:

Well, we were saying earlier in terms of being able to present a narrative and characters, I think unfortunately there are reporters that don't feel comfortable approaching certain kinds of strangers based on their biases. And so, you know, I think it, I don't know exactly what happened in terms of the, the actions under the bridge that TSA was involved in, but I can imagine that it's possible a reporter, depending on, you know, how experienced as a reporter is in that situation, they might say, you know, I'm not going to necessarily go up to all of the people that have been sleeping there and get myself in the middle of this. It's feels a lot safer. And more comfortable. Just ask the cop what they think. And then I'll ask the homeless organizer, the person that runs the shelter where they think exactly what happened and he said they went to, they went to the, um, the, the Gospel charity who was, you know, there with the cops too to pro quote unquote provide homeless services, talk to them for like five minutes, talk to the cops for like 10, 15 minutes, uh, took some pictures and then just fucked off and left. Yeah. And so I think unfortunately, you know, um, I think reporters don't like to think of themselves as that person, but I think at that happens a lot and whether or not in that situation it would have been more effective for someone from DSA to try and contact a reporter and advance. Like that's always one thing that you can do is say, okay, we think this is going to be happening in the next couple of days. I'm going to track down who has written these stories in the past. Because a lot of times reporters will have a beat. So there's a particular person that will get assigned to that story regularly and you know, try and contact them and say, you know, I'm, I'm, we're anticipating this thing's going to happen. I don't know if it would be something that you would cover, but if it is, please give me a call. You know, I'll be there. And so if you decide to show up, please feel free to talk to me or I'd be happy to introduce you to people similarly if, if it's not an advanced, I think potentially in that moment someone, one of the activists there, it might've been helpful to say, look here, I know all the people that are, I know some of these people, um, you know, Mary has been sleeping in this spot for the last six months. Mary would be a really good person to talk to you about. You know, she's been, she's been kicked out of here three times in the last month. This is, she does not want to go to the shelter. I really think you should talk to Mary. I can get in touch with her anytime you need, you know, to make the logistics of that easy for the reporter.

Speaker 2:

So to make that into a concrete suggestion, be a guide. Don't be the focus of the story. If you're the focus of the story you saw like a crank a lot of the times, or you're boring activists are boring. There's an activist. Every time you go to a place, somebody, somebody has some point of view, right? Everybody has a point of view. So that's, that's not as exciting as something else. So if you, rather than making yourself the focus of the story, if you can be a guide, that is something that journalists will be a much more willing to accept because then they can play this, they can do this little trick in there. So that's why I know this, I know I'm a Republican and I know that this guy's a socialist, but so long as I'm not repeating what he says, I'm just letting him show me other people. I'm not buying into that ideology.

Speaker 4:

No. They can do their introductions and then I'll ask Mary, I'll ask questions. I want and I'll feel comfortable with that. So, so it's, it's a way of framing

Speaker 5:

the story by pointing them in a direction rather than trying to say, this is the story. This is what you need to do. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

The second red flag, they want to fight it. This is the story you said, you know what? Fuck you, I'm the reporter, I'm going to figure out the story. Or there's a pride element that comes into it. And it also did you just, you know, a good professional standard is to be leery of people that are telling you what this is like. This is the only thing you need to pay attention to, right. It's not what you're supposed to do. So be a guide. Don't be the center of attention in this whole don't seem like a crank thing. It's really tricky and it's actually like, it's, it's bad at, it's like hard advice to give to people because it's actually talking more about how shitty reporters are. The best example of this is Richard Spencer cause the guy's a fucking piece of Shit Nazi. But he gets interview after interview after interview because he's a white guy, middle class white guy that dresses a certain way. And there's a bunch of reporters that are frankly more comfortable talking to that Nazi. That's from basically they're saying cultural value. Then they are talking to the people that Nazi wants to kill. And so he's getting so many goddamn interviews and the people that he wants to kill get fewer interviews and that, I mean that speaks to the, the shittiness of, of reporters. But it's also very clever on his part because he presents himself in this way that makes them amenable to interviews, you know,

Speaker 5:

so, so is there, is, is there a way in which, you know, as, as fucked up as it is, we still do need to play this respectability politics?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, and I think unfortunately there's that, but then there's also, uh, I think many people, but reporters in particular don't respond well to being told this is actually what's happening and you just need to get with the program. And so I think you know, if I will be a lot more inclined to trust a source or a trust, someone I'm interviewing, if they feel comfortable and willing to just let me ask the broad range of questions instead of say no, no, no. Like you need to just pay attention to this one thing and I'm just going to keep trying to, I only care about showing you this and being combative if I'm like, but it seems like there's a whole bunch of people with a different opinion. How would you respond to that? Right. Unfortunately it's the person that's, that's willing to say, I know, I have my perspective. I just want to share that perspective. Was speeding a lot of trust in

Speaker 2:

faith in the reporter though. Well, so, okay. Two things. One is that part of what I'm saying by the narrative thing is not to deliver this prepackaged binder. You know, it's to frame things in a certain way where you can kind of guide them. Like there's a certain amount of tricking people and I'm sort of advocating for, the other thing is, you know the report is how the power in you don't have the power. We need to create a left wing press in this country and we the, we need the left wing press to be not just Jacobin and literary magazines in fucking theory magazines and like rants and screeds. We need a left wing press that is covering car crashes and what's happening with the flu epidemic was a big flu epidemic in California right now. What's happening with the flu epidemic? How is that being dealt with at the Ho, at the local hospital and covering that from a subtly left perspective where you're just sort of questioning the power structure is you're, you're, you're maybe pointing out some, some asymmetry is or you know, I'm not an activist, I'm just asking questions, but what I'm saying is we need to create institutions of journalism. Yeah. Ended up independent of how activists deal with, like there needs to be a left press. It's actually doing daily reporting and not focused specifically on ideology, not focused specifically on political fights, not focused specifically on getting a ideological message across, but actually just is a left wing press that does daily reporting on quotidian things with a left understanding of those things. A left understanding of the flu, I left understanding of a car crash, how many times does the car crash happened at this curve and why and why did caltrans build it that way and what does that have to do with eminent domain? That seems really quotidian, it seems like there's that, that's a nonpolitical thing when you go to a car crash and it's a bunch of dead people on the street, that seems like a nonpolitical. That's just the brute fact of some people got killed by some machines and it seems nonpolitical, but there's a whole slew of politics that goes into how the firefighters responding to that, how the road was built, how the speed limit got got established as a whole bunch of politics behind that and there's a co utter dirth of coverage in, in, in a left framing of that. That happens in the United States. And because none of that happens, it becomes a defacto reactionary coverage of those kinds of issues. So we need to build those institutions aside from the question of how to activist engaged with,

Speaker 4:

yeah, sorry, I don't know that I can listen to last week's episode. Yeah, I think it's so, wow. We're building those institutions. The current reality is that a lot of the local reporters that you're dealing with as we run into more last week are, are going to be, um, they often feel like they have the least power within their own organization. So there'll be holding on to their editor. They're probably not getting paid a living wage. They're stressed out about deadlines. They're trying to do more than they feel like they have time to. Maybe they need to go pick their kid up from school, whatever. They have a life. They're a human also, but they do have the power in that particular dynamic. And so that's, in that moment, you are dealing with someone that feels constrained themselves by all these other structural things. And if they're talking to you already, then they're willing to give you this mailman. But they might be saying, okay, ideally you're going to tell me in three sentences what you have to say and maybe I can get two of those and if you talk to me for minutes, then I'm going to have to pick which two sentences go in and hopefully you all pick the ones that you want me to. And I'm so, and there sort of a strategy of how do I get my message across in this immediate moment because a reporter just showed up at the action and I have this chance to say something. And then there's also a strategy of how do I kind of build these relationships with the local reporters in the place that I'm in. So that I feel like I have sort of a longterm media strategy and I have access to the local press as I'm doing whatever, you know, Kang Building, whatever kind of movement I want to or sort of getting whatever other coverage of issues I am hoping to see in my community. So

Speaker 2:

the ideal for an activist in a lot of ways in terms of your relationship with the press should be that you're not going to show up in print very often, but you're the person that a reporter calls when they need a tip and you're the person that can steer them to a source that will give them quotes. You know, the, those people are really useful to report US cause there's only so many hours in a day. You don't have sources in every single nook and cranny of the world. So when you go to cover some issue, you need to find shortcuts. And what are the shortcuts you have. You go to nonprofits and, and university professors, you know, get quoted a lot about the shit they don't know. I've called the professors and men like some, there's some weather phenomenon. You're a meteorologist. Give me a quote about this thing and there'll be like, Eh, you know, they'll say something super vague and you throw it in there cause you just need some quote from somebody. Right.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. And that that can also be true in terms of this just the schedule of the day. So there are definitely people that I have called because every time I see them they tell me about some kind of event and maybe one out of 10 of those events I ended up covering. But I know that they are, they're just trying to be helpful and it was them. So if it's nine o'clock at night and I realize, oh no, I need someone to say something about this thing, I can probably send a text to Joe and he will probably respond. And also he won't get mad if I say, look Joe, I just, can you give me just three sentences about this thing right now? And that is just a pretty huge thing that I think wins points and reporters were a member on a human relationship level.

Speaker 5:

If I can kind of, um, maybe restate it a little bit. As an activist, you kind of want to be a reporter who doesn't actually write anything. You want to have like a deer, your little niche where you develop your own sources and and develop your own area where you know a lot of what's going on and then you basically feed that as, as you think is necessary to a reporter that you develop a relationship with.

Speaker 2:

There's a guy, there's a guy in the local chapter of the DSA that spoke very eloquently at this end, Santa City Council meeting and like the, the press, whoever covers that meeting of ever recovers those issues. Might quote him again as a firebrand, but he's never going to get asked a question again. I'm sorry, but the reporters are just going to steer clear of him because he has, he's like an established figure. They'll, they'll go to him for the firebrand quote when there's that issue comes up, but they're not going to go to him as a source for other kinds of things as readily made. Maybe I exaggerated, but it was readily,

Speaker 4:

you know what I'm talking about. I know exactly what you're talking about. Less transferable necessarily to nationally, but there's issues like this around the country. But in Mendocino we do a lot of cannabis coverage and Adrian and I both were, I sort of had that beat when we worked at the local corporate papers. And I think when we both started reporting on that several years ago, um, it was definitely something that had only ever been covered in terms of as a crime subject in the county, even if it was a major economic, you know, a lot, 50% or more of residents are estimated to make some kind of money off that industry. And so initially it was really hard you, despite having lived in the county for a long time, knowing a lot of people that work in that profession, it was really hard to find anyone that would be willing to go on the record and say, look, I am a cannabis farmer and I, this is what I do and this is what kinds of policy I'd like to see happen. And over time, more and more people were willing to sort of say, okay, I'm, I'm going to be the person that gets up and goes out in public and says lists. But then there was sort of this funny thing that happened where there was these five farmers that would always show up and they were the people that decided, okay, I'm going to have my picture in the paper. And at some point you can't just quote Bob the cannabis farmer anymore. At some point it switches to people saying, oh, well that's just Bob. And he's at every meeting. And he always says that. And so I don't believe that this is actually a movement. I think it's just Bob. And so we need to, at that point, you know, I would have to call Bob and say, hey Bob or any of your friends, like is there anyone else that maybe would be willing to be quoted just so it doesn't seem like just you anymore, you know? Um, and I think the example that Adrian gave his is another thing like that where it's like at some point you need to, if you are really trying to report on a movement and you're really trying to say, hey, there's actually a bunch of people that feel this way or um, you know, this is a Ma, the scale of this problem is much bigger than people realize but they don't want to come forward for whatever reason you, it's really helpful to have Bob say, okay, yeah, I might know someone else that you could talk to or I'll go see what I can find out. And you know, I think that those are the ways that you kind of develop those longterm relationships that ultimately do serve the purpose of whatever message you're trying to get out there. And, and um, I think a more persuasive way cause it's not just you, this one person who's making the same point over and over again, that you're able to say, oh, here's a many different examples that are a part of why we really need to look at the bridge issue differently.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And another thing is American media whores left ideology as, as an ideology. You're never going to see, I'm going to say this in tomorrow, there's going to be an article, The New York Times, you're never going to see a positive portrayal of somebody that calls themselves a communist. Right? Uh, it's just not, it's, Eh, it's just, there's a whole species of like, oh, the kids today are into socialism kind of stories that have come out and, and they treat it as, it's called a trend piece. You know, and they treat it as this weird trend. It's a fashion thing. They're covering fashion thing, right? And so that bias is there. It's institutionalized, it's explicit, it's part of the culture. And it's, you know, it's, it's everything. It's, it's, and it's really hard to overcome. So if you go to a reporter, even someone that they themselves might be left in their personal politics and you say, well, this thing is just like how Lennon said such and such thing, or how mark said such and such thing, you're done. You know if, because the report or even a reporter that's sympathetic to you knows that if they quote that you're going to, they're going to make you sound like a crank. You know like people who read the newspaper are going to read that as a red flag. They're going to, that to them is a sign as a marker saying this is the part where the left wing radical tox nonsense that you can, the Pinko is talking that you can just skip over. You know, they're just doing this to be fair to the pink. Oh, oh, how nice of them. That they're being unbiased and allowing a pink go to get a quote in there. We're going to, I'm going to just skip that part. You know, and that that's unfortunately, I mean I think

Speaker 4:

particularly if, if that person has less articulate then someone else that's quoted in a story or something,

Speaker 2:

but that's a, that's a common thing in American culture where if you start from a standpoint of saying, I'm, I'm a Marxist or I'm a socialist and I think capital is problematic and in the following ways people will tune you out. And if you say, don't you fucking hate your boss, people will listen to you. Yeah, everybody agrees. I fucking hate my boss. Don't you hate how your boss makes more money than you? And then you get, you always get some s smarmy asshole and you're on your crew or company or whatever. That's like, no, it's good that the boss makes more money. He deserves them. The more money, I dunno. That's, yeah,

Speaker 4:

there's a personal pet peeve I have against that guy was always a boot maker. But that then it's, I think it feels like a more compelling article for a reporter to say, well this guy thinks his boss should make more money in, but these guys think x, y and Z. And then you're, you're still sort of satisfying those both sides. Um, which was just a trap that's very hard to get out of

Speaker 2:

localizing things. Making things specific in particular particular to what you're talking about instead of globalizing or totalizing

Speaker 4:

can you talk about, don't talk about how awful gentrification is. Talk about how poor Hispanic families in Roseland are getting forced out because they're getting redeveloped and he can then say, you know, here I can provide you with extra resources about how this has been happening all over Santa Rosa for the last five years in. I think that broader context is still important

Speaker 2:

because the second you say gentrification is bad, it's happening. The, the ready response that is in the mind of the normally or the square or whatever is, well that's market forces and you can't, you know that eventually the market will reach an equilibrium that's good for everyone

Speaker 4:

and now you're arguing with that whole

Speaker 2:

fucking giant, you know, carved out of a mountain sign.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. And that now you need to get out Das capital and like go through line by line. Right. Because the typical person reading that article doesn't actually necessarily care about that argument or want to read about it right now on their way to work. And I think if you can say this family is now being evicted because they couldn't pay rent for one month or something, that then becomes a very different way that you're relating to that. You're thinking about it as people, not just political systems and then you're a lot more willing to say, oh, how do these people fit into this bigger picture? And I have had my own ideas about that, but I'm now more receptive to thinking about it differently in the

Speaker 2:

company that's buying the property that they're getting evicted from, paid this much in campaign finance dollars to this person and is going to do this thing with the land. And I mean those are, these are hard things to figure out. So if you can figure them out in the report, it just has to sort of knows now where to go back check rather than dig. Just to double check the facts that, that, that saves a lot of work there. There's this campaign finance and they have these ties. Now it's specific, it's particular, it's all news, it's all facts. Again, quotes, right? And their quotes. It's facts and that's a lot easier that that's a more compelling story than gentrification happened. Gentrification happened everywhere. We know that. That's like saying it rains somewhere in the world today. You know, nobody, nobody cares about that. There were four inches in an hour a day in Santa Rosa. Oh that's, that's, that's something that people care about here. You know? So that's, that's another way. Localize. Be a guide, have resources but don't impose it. I feel like there's a, there's like a level of victim blaming and what we're saying and I want to, I want to be clear that I'm not endorsing the shittiness of my coffee eggs nor nor my own, you know, I've done all this in the past. Like part of the reason I know this is because I'm guilty of all these centers as well. These are just the sustenna

Speaker 4:

realities that you have to face as an activist. Yeah. And I think we're all individual people caught in these structures, you know,

Speaker 2:

which is why we need to build.

Speaker 4:

Yes, yes we do need to change their structure is, but I think in the moment, you know I've definitely had people to where I am completely sympathetic to their policy cause I probably completely agree with them. They are talking to me about something that's you know, something that's happening this weekend that they are really upset that no one's covering. And then I organize this big action this weekend and I don't understand why it hasn't been any in any of the papers. And the unfortunately the way that they are talking to me about that is such that we ended up not treating each other like people in a way that I think is just disappointing all around. But you know I will try and say, you know, there just wasn't room in the previous paper and I'm, I'll try and get something in this time. And they'll, I think when, when people, reporters or tr or pushed into thinking about people as kind of units and where can I put this quote in and how can I structure this story. And so if the person they're talking to is also treating them that way and saying, oh well your paper is just never shown up for any of these things. And I've been, you know, where were you five years ago? Maybe it probably wasn't that reporter they are five years ago. Then that animosity just kind of builds and continues and those structural divides get exacerbated as well.

Speaker 2:

So it'd be nice to the people that are assholes to you turn the other cheek.

Speaker 4:

Very good necessarily. You know, it goes both ways. I think the people just, no, I know. But it's a PR strategy. Yeah. Yeah. Live in the end unfortunately. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Another, I think another underappreciated thing to consider is that everything is political and in the minds of a lot of Americans there is politics and then there's the rest of the world and the rest of the world is non political and there's a need. There is, there's an explicit Neil liberal ideology that wants us to believe that. And there's also an older American tradition and like wig history idea, uh, about what is the realm of politics and what isn't politics, but everything is political and things that you think of is nonpolitical and reporters think of is non political and the public thing. So it is nonpolitical. Aarp are political. They have a political element to them. And if, if you can provide information in, in those circumstances, then you can, that's like a, like a sneak attack, right? So again, a car crash, sometimes somebody is drunk, whatever. The car crash is. Also somebody that covers a lot of car crashes happened in the same places over, over and over again. There's three specific curves in Mendocino county that I don't want to give a statistic, but you know, that I'm, when I drive those curves now I drive them really slow because I've seen people get killed in them monthly. You know, and, um, you, you can ask this really broad question is why did Caltrans, why for those of you out of say Caltrans is the California department transportation, why did caltrans build a freeway that way? You know, such that people routinely get killed there. And if you looked into it, there's, there's political reasons for that, you know, and there's budgetary reasons for that and there's reasons about what kind of people lived had houses there before there was a road, you know.

Speaker 5:

Well yeah, there's um, there, there is on one oh one up, you know, way up north in Mendocino that there is, there, there are like redwoods that are like partway into the road itself there. Richardson Grove. Yeah,

Speaker 2:

that's an error because bill pay, I know that that's a whole ball. Nope, no whole nother ball

Speaker 5:

yarn. Or is it wax wax? Actually it's both. But you know, and also you said, you know, sometimes people are just drunk. Well, why do some people drive? Why do so many people that drive home trunk after they go to the bar, they drive home drunk after they go to the bar because they don't have any other option then driving themselves because there's no public transportation. And even even with Uber being subsidized by VC dipshits it's still a really fucking expensive. Yeah. Yeah. So so it's always political,

Speaker 2:

always. It's always political. Um,

Speaker 4:

can you find it easy way to kind of make that connection that doesn't feel forced or strained because you know as a reporter there, there isn't ever a good moment to say we're just going to look at all the dangerous curves like that that day is never arriving cause there's always something more urgent. Yeah,

Speaker 2:

there is a curve that kills people monthly and you pointed out and you have the old articles and the statistics is actually this. Now that's an issue and that's an issue that people can focus around and that can become a focal point of something, right. Instead of just saying, well it's an act of God. It's part of nature that people just die on the roads. Well, actually, here's this one place where they die a lot more often and now that's a story. That's, that's, that's good. That's a focus point. And there's, there's a lot of things like that.

Speaker 4:

I think similarly, you know, it can be hard to call up a reporter and say, I want to talk about how many accidents we have on this road. But if, depending on what the issue is, if you're saying, okay, it's drunk driving month next time, that's not a thing. But you know, if, if you're drunk driving drunk driving awareness, okay, so say it was that week and you are like me and these other mothers of people that were in accidents are going to go to the city council and ask them to look into subsidizing Uber for our neighborhood or something after Manet, I dunno, whatever they get. If it's part of a larger organizing strategy, if it's part of a larger action, if instead of just going to the press, you're actually trying to attack this issue from a variety of ways than letting the press know that you're going to go do this other action also creates this timely news thing. So saying, you know, we are all going to, we covered something recently about a trailer park where there, there's these evictions going on, but part of there wasn't anything that had happened that month per se, but someone from the trailer park called us and said, you know, we're all going to show up at the city council meeting. It's not on the agenda. They're probably not going to let us talk about it. Probably nothing is going to necessarily happen except that 30 of us are going to show up at the city council meeting where nobody ever goes to him. And so then the room was packed. There's usually like three people in there. That's a timely thing. Even if the end of that was just, and then everyone went home and they said they'd talk about it again next month.

Speaker 2:

So then, you know, there are all these really stupid days, like today is national donut day. Tomorrow's national basketball. Who fucking knows, right? But that's all intentional. You know, people do that. People Lobby Congress to get that passed so that they'll have a day of, of publicity. Right. And if, if it's national, uh, drunk driving awareness week, every local newspapers do to fill, you going to publish the press release from mothers against drunk driving in there. They get that issue out there and there's, there's just being aware that there's a new cycle in that there are news pegs and the timeliness matters means you can invent things from Finnair that are perpetual permanent issues, but they don't have a peg, you know.

Speaker 4:

And similarly, I, it can be time consuming and it definitely will not always pay off, but just based on a lack of resources and time who are porter as well? Just where I'm press releases, they will, you know, in the same way they'll say this is where the police department just announced. They will often, you know, it is worth it periodically to send things saying we're going to have this ongoing action. We're going to have, we're starting this monthly reading group and I'm just going to send you our book every Sunday. Like every first Sunday of the month. I'm going to send you a note saying this is what we're talking about this time. There may come six months from now, some moment where the reporter says, you know, I have nothing else right now. I've ignored 10 of these, but hey this month it's like a local author so I'm just going to throw it in last month. And so I think knowing that you weren't, that group is dedicated and committed to the thing and they weren't just trying to get this brief moment of publicity also actually does go some ways towards credibility.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 4:

Pr kinds of things can can feel like disingenuous or can feel like you're manipulating people towards your cause or your thinking about like branding and marketing and messaging and these things that can feel very counter intuitive to a lot of the issues that people are thinking about. In terms of their activism, but unfortunately part of being a reporter is finding a way to communicate information persuasively and to the public who might not be interested in these things at all. And so there is sort of these layers of that that you have to go through to reach people that might otherwise not know that you're out there holding these reading groups.

Speaker 2:

But I, I just want to return to this point again that it's very important to figure out ways to deal with the mainstream press and when we're trying to, hopefully we're doing, we're providing some kind of information to people right now. I don't know that we're accomplishing that, but I really believe that it needs to happen in tandem with creating institutions of alternative press that that are willing to cover. Not just politics, not just protest and activism and theory and essay, but cover basic daily news. There's going to be a road close, for instance, there's going to be a real inclusion tomorrow. Why is the road close? Because they're repairing it. Why are they repairing that road at this time? You know, why is it okay to start to shut off that street during the middle of the day? And that other street they only work on at night. And it's those kinds of things that people actually go to the newspaper for on a daily basis in small towns and, and, and also in like non hedgematic parts of big cities, right? Where, you know, if you live on the east, east side of la or something like that, right? You're not gonna get that much coverage except maybe when there's a shooting or when there's some kind of infrastructure stuff. Right. And there's, so there's a whole slew of other kinds of really important reporting, basic information of the newspaper, sort of this basic informational role in society where they're just telling you like it's going to be a road closure. We ran a stupid thing the other day about how hospitals are not letting people visit patients if they had the flu because there's a flu, flu epidemic happening right now in California. That's a big, then that's kind of a big deal to know that that's a basic part of life that you want to know about that is not part of policy like government or you know, uh, governmental politics is not part of the city council or a supervisor council or the State Capitol p Paul Capital p politics. Right? But which hospital does, at which way in what people are actually excluded in, in how the doctors treat people. If you don't speak English and you show up to the hospital and you're sniffling and this person does speak English and they're sniffling, are you gonna treated the same way? Now you're not. Right. And so those kinds of things don't get covered. And they certainly don't get covered from that perspective. And there's this, this big gap that people could do that people can begin to, to fill on their own to some extent, I think the way to think about wow.

Speaker 4:

But I think it really, a lot of the things that whether or not it's sort of investigative discoveries or whether or not it's just really learning how different parts of a community are functioning. And who's involved with what. A lot of that stuff is really time consuming it. It really involves like you learn a lot of things by going to a six hour city council meeting every week and even if there are times where there's really no one else at that meeting except reporters, I think actually, you know, that's something that in itself is, is somewhat newsworthy, but you kind of getting the that more fine grained understanding of what's going on in a local community, something that really requires like full time dedication to some of the boring tedious stuff also. And so I think that that's actually another way that activists can connect with reporters in that a lot of times it can be easy to, to chase, no, what's the flash in the pan thing happening right now? But you know, particularly in for the purposes of building a left wing independent local press for the long term, but also in the immediate moment of sort of finding your local beat reporter and getting an understanding of like he's going to be at every planning meeting. And so if there are things about the planning commission that I really know our zoning in my neighborhood that I really think are important, that might be a way that I can connect with that reporter that doesn't feel as capital p politicized, but it's something that he's paying attention to, like probably wants more sources around, wants to be able to access and figure range of opinions about, you know, might be pretty knowledgeable about some of the documents, but maybe not about how people feel about it because people aren't actually going to those meetings. And so,

Speaker 2:

and don't, don't ignore the power of these bourgeois institutions. Planning Committees, commissions boards, they have different names in different places are hugely powerful. Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Shape what cities look like. They shape how much the rent ends up costing. They ship who gets to live where and they recreate a whole cities. Right. And they, they're, they're usually elected. Uh, they're often elected. I don't know about usually, but um,

Speaker 4:

but whatever, you have very low accountability. That's the thing. And whatever you think about involvement in electoral politics, in terms of organizing your on are, you know, a lot of times it will be a much bigger impact than people realize because the day to day work of these things as largely an attended or, or the general public is not paying attention. You know, it, you can have a meeting where one person shows up and opposes a thing and because they're the only person that bothered to show up, they do get this and they own property and they say, well, this is going to impact my property. You know, it can really come down to just, well, no one bothered to show up at that meeting. And so they listened to the one guy that said, no, and that was that. And

Speaker 2:

I was at the bar once, I don't know why the fuck I was there when I was at a bar once and I ran into all these biologists who were doing work on a fish in the eel or the toll, or I forget which river. And they were like, they're like, oh, you're a reporter. And, um, you guys in the inner that the biologist, she goes, you guys always fuck it up. You have no fucking idea what you're talking about. Your, you get everything wrong about how the river works and, and all these other issues with the river. And I was like, all right, tell me what to do, tell me how to report on it better. And she goes, well, the first thing you need to do is you need to go read these academic papers. I was like, I do not have a degree in biology. I don't even have a subscription to a j store or whatever. Right. Like I can't get those academic papers. I'd have to like sign up to the alumni association from a university and then go to the whatever. I don't, you know,

Speaker 4:

and then whether or not you would understand,

Speaker 2:

then she's like, you need to read all these academic papers and then you come back to me and then you asked me a question and I was like, I'm not going to, and so I'm going to just go to the other person, it's going to give me some information. And then their per perspective's going to end up in the newspaper. And I was like, you're, you need to do a better job of communicating with me. You're scientists, you're really smart. You're smarter than the I know scientist. And I know journalists and scientists aren't average smarter. You're new. You guys are smart. You need to figure out how to talk to me cause I don't have a lot of time to devote to this issue and you devote your entire life to this issue. So you need to figure out how to talk to me. And that might suck for you. Like that might feel unfair. But that's, that's the reality. And then she goes, oh, you should talk to that guy. And I went over to the corner and it was the guy and he was really good at talking about it. And he now is like the main guy that the New York Times and Washington Post get quotes on, on, uh, we'd policy from. It's because he could take me aside and be like, here's what you need to know. And now he's shaping whole parts of the discourse on weed, you know, and he's, he's full of shit a lot of the times.

Speaker 4:

Well, I think that

Speaker 2:

there's, there's a couple of things in that that people don't necessarily realize wine is that as I mentioned before, a lot of times you have beat reporters, so you'll have someone who is regularly going to all the planning commission meetings, but they also maybe have five other beats. And so they might have some degree of specialized knowledge because they've been to all those meetings, they've heard everything set at all those meetings, but they're also juggling eight other things that they do. And so a lot of reporters are generalists in these weird ways where they'll have kind of specific pockets of knowledge about certain things, but they are not going to go home and read 10 more academic articles because they'd have to pick which subject to do that on. And so the extent to which you can say, you know, you can figure out, you can get to know your local reporters and figure out what is useful for them to know goes along way similarly. There's people that, you know, write magazine articles only about this one topic forever. If you know from my national news coverage perspective, figuring out who those people are that cover housing for rolling stone, which doesn't cover housing, but you know, like figuring out who are the national people that might be interested in a local story because that is an example for them of a larger thing is a good thing to know. But then on top of it, if you can do a good job at saying to a local reporter, here's those three sentences that really encapsulate my perspective, the laziness extends. And so you may get a call from the New York Times the next week if for whatever reason they decided this topic is sexy right now. A lot of times the way that reporters find sources, not local reporters, they'll just go read the local article and they'll say, oh, I saw that the press Democrat talk to you about this thing. So you must be the guy because it will go order less. No. Or their call local reporters up and then scam you. And that could be credited.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, but that happens a lot is they'll say, you know, I'm from New York, I don't know anything about this. You guys are based in Sonoma. Tell me who to talk to. And if that reporter knows you, then you might get be the person that gets recommended. If they just know the guy that always showed up to the meetings and that's going to be the person that they recommend.

Speaker 2:

Don't underestimate the stupidity and the shittiness of the national press either. Just because they're bigger doesn't mean they're any better. Kate and I and other reporters, I know North Coast, we joke about there, there's a genre of reporters mostly from the east coast coming to northern California to report about weed in every story starts out with them walking through the forest with a bunch of cops. And if the first person that you quote about something illegal or underground is a cop, you did a bad job as a reporter, you know, you really did. But the cops are available and the cops have aligned. The cops are going to help you get the story and other people aren't. And so every story starts off with marching through the forest. It starts off with something about the mysteriousness of the deep dark forest and how far away it is from San Francisco because every one of these guys flies into Sfo or Oakland and then drives up the one on one. And so they're, they're, they're very formulaic and then they, they actually interviewed the same sources, the nation interview, the same sources as the New York Times interview, the same sources as mother Jones interview, the same sources as the Atlantic, the exact same sources and all these stories. And now they're all going to assist Q county to interview that was super racist. Sheriff up there, a Lopey[inaudible], I forget his name, but um, they, they reproduce the same story over and over again because it's easy and it's cost effective because they have three or four days.

Speaker 4:

They can't vet whether or not you're a crank. So they just say, someone here telling me that,

Speaker 2:

tell the truth. I worked for an editor, I won't say what publication, but I worked for an editor that was in their sixties and said that it had never occurred to them until the last year that a cop would lie.

Speaker 4:

Holy Shit. Yeah. It was disheartening. Very disheartening. And editor,

Speaker 2:

an editor couple, the small local newspaper, and it did not occur to them that a cop would lie until the cop was actually lying in a court case that that newspaper was involved was the newspaper was getting sued and the cops were lying on the stand. And then this editor said, oh, the cops lying about a thing that I know about. I guess cops lie. Wow. But don't like, don't underestimate how pigheaded and ignorant and stupid reporters are going to be, but also wreck. I Dunno. And then maybe I'm just taking out my personal thing.

Speaker 4:

I didn't frame it like that, but it's also just people are people, they're not perfect. They're tired. They may not be getting paid a lot. They may not. There might be a whole system of disincentives for them to go find out these things. And so depending, they may just be a shitty person, but if you approach them as if they're a shitty person, that's probably also not going to go that well for you. So if you, yeah, I really want to unpack how someone managed to be, uh, not just live in this country, but be an editor for decades and not realize cops lie, but so we don't have, we were actually running pretty low on time. So

Speaker 2:

I mean,

Speaker 4:

that's a story I'm going to have to get you off of yet. Know the cops,

Speaker 2:

cops do a really good job of hiding their lives too, is part of it. A lot of people in power do a good job of hiding their lives as part of it. But,

Speaker 4:

and some of it is, you know, if it can be hard, if people aren't willing to go on the record, depending on what kind of resources you have to help whistleblowers or talk to people or assess whether or not they're cranks. If someone comes to you and says, you know, I had this crazy story about what the cops did. You have the choice to then devote resources to try and to verify that or not. And if you, if that person says, but I'm never going to go on the record about this, I'm too terrified they're going to come to my house. I want you to know this and I want you to investigate it, but I can't have my name involved. You know,

Speaker 2:

stories about stuff. The cops that I can report and it was, nobody would go on the record.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. And a, you can't, if you can't, if, unless there's some kind of paper trail, unless there's other ways that you can figure out to document that so that when you write that article, it's something that's going to be persuasive to all those people out there that just aren't sure what they think about cops lying, you know, you wanna you want to write that article in such a way that people read it and say, Oh wow, I can't believe this is what happened. But it must be because here's this paper trail.

Speaker 2:

You get the bad apple theory. There's a couple of bad apples because so few stairs, people who deal with carbs, people who know about this know that there's a system that's oppressive intentionally. So people who aren't oppressed by that system only see small amounts of news actually get out about one or two individuals and they can dismiss it as a bad apple.

Speaker 4:

I think, you know, there's been similarly, I know Adrian has written articles in the past where to try and counteract that. Uh, the, the completely understandable in resistance to people wanting to go on the record with some of these stories. Um, you know, I, Adrian, at one point I read a story that said, you know, here's, we have 17 different anonymous sources are going on. I don't know, it was over a 10. It was like, I have 10 people that all have some kind of police brutality. Um, think story that they've told me, none of them want to be on the record. And then I've spoken to a San volume more that have similar experiences. Um, you know, that,

Speaker 2:

yeah.

Speaker 4:

Publishing. That story gets something out there. Um, it resulted in definitely some silent treatment from law enforcement agencies and I don't,

Speaker 2:

which like that I published that story. My editor back me up and then a week later there was a high speed chase and the cops refused to comment on the high speed chase. They refused to comment to my newspaper at all. And the high speed chase the common into a different newspaper. So there's this huge disincentive now for my, my boss, my editor to go with me again on this because she knows she's going to get frozen out by the cops. Really basic things of like this roads flooded. People are going to drown if they go down that way we're closing it and if they stopped common team on that you, you, you're really hampered the Mendocino is a, is a land of shitty roads and difficult road, which is why we keep coming back to them. But your, your life is dominated by the shooting

Speaker 4:

road safety issues in such a way that aren't like, oh, watch out for looters. Public safety issues aren't about like protecting public property, public safety issues, but at that are legit. And that Leah about like are you, is that, you know, you do have to sort of maintain communication. Um, even if you have left politics and you're trying to do things differently as a reporter. And so if you don't have people that are willing to say, look, this is my name, I'll give you all my documents, you and I will go with my lawyer and we'll go find the paper trail. You know, it can become really difficult if you want to be a credible, trustworthy reporter. Um, you know, you want to be able to write something that feels, that fact checks that it feels like people have to believe it or they have to read it and say, we have to take this seriously. And the, at the point that you become, oh, they're just always quoting these anonymous people and we can't, it's all kind of a morphous then it's really hard for you to do good reporting on other subjects.

Speaker 2:

Let me, let me say one other thing here though. Like if Jeremy Scahill or Chris Hedges or somebody like that showed up in Mendocino county and took over my job, they do a way better job and they get all these stories out and they did show all this stuff like it's possible to do because I'm not the best reporter in the county, let alone the country, you know, and so like

Speaker 4:

possible to do. Why if you're going to leave. And so it becomes a lot more complicated for people sometimes if they're like, well me and this cop live in the same town and we're going to live in the same time together for the next 20 years and saw the time, I want to take my stand and say, I'm not letting this happen in my town anymore. Very prominent cop. No, but you know, you have my condolences. I think that's a legitimate concern that people go, you know, go through and they're thinking about what do I say to the press and if, unless it's at the point that they're willing to say, I'm just going to go for it, no matter what I have, I've reached my limit. Sure.

Speaker 2:

But, but the, the point I'm trying to make is that, uh, Chris hedges or Jeremy Scahill type might be able to come and get these stories and it would be great, but the people who are that talented or have that much resources go to bigger papers and in small communities, we actually have to make due with, with people who have less training and fewer resources and have, and frankly a lot of times less talent. And that's not going to change. Like the best people at the job are, are going to be in New York, La, Sacramento, San Francisco, that that aspect is not going to change. We're always going to have fewer resources, whether it's in Mendocino County, Sonoma County, or for that matter, East Palo Alto. Right. As opposed to downtown San Francisco,

Speaker 4:

but making those jobs, living wage jobs. But when people are supporting their local paper or where, you know, I think it is, right?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But my point is, but my point is there's a saviorism, there's like a White Knight saviorism idea about journalism and I just w making the jobs, living wage jobs, it's going to improve things. Having these alternative press is gonna improve things. But also the press can only go so far. We can only do so much. We are constrained by the tools. We're constrained by the culture, we're constrained by resources. So like it's only gonna go so far and you can see the press will publish like Snowden happened. We know all that shit. It didn't change, you know? So I also think I also want to make the point that you shouldn't law yourself into thinking that the press is actually going to be in every case. That helpful. Definitely an avenue to follow. But again, we all know the NSA is listening to us all the time. You know, it's not just the left wing press or the established press it Stephen Colbert or making jokes for years about the NSA listening to us all the time. And yet that didn't change. Right? So you also can't fall into the trap that merely exposing a problem we're talking about. It creates change and I think left is understand that better than than other people do, but there is, there's still this, this Tennessee I said, if we can only get this publicized and things will be, you got to publicize it and also know what you're going to do next.

Speaker 5:

Right. Diversity of tactics, you know, to to talk about the, the comrade who was the firebrand at the ethnic council meeting. It's, it's not, it's not a knock on them to say that they're not going to be a good source for a reporter because you know, you also have to make sure that you show up and be a gadfly at city council meetings so that they, so that they know that people are fucking watching them

Speaker 2:

and it's that it's that you need that comrade and another guy that can talk to the reporter. It's that you need to show up with a couple different people. One can talk to the reporter while the other one does an action in terms of a media strategy that's going to help you out.

Speaker 4:

Well, and to understand that in and whatever article gets written, part of what you're going to be able to do there is let people in the general public know who might want to come help you. Hey, there's this guy out there and he's going to these meetings and he's saying these things and he's also working with this group and this is what they're going to do next. And so whatever the city council said in response, you know, they may have said, okay, we'll vote on this next month, but I know I want to go to that meeting next Saturday and see if I can help that guy out. Um, and so there's a diversity of benefits that you get from,

Speaker 5:

from a diversity of strategies also. Are we running out of time? Yeah. So we're, we're pretty well over. So

Speaker 2:

let me just say, I hope some of that was helpful to somebody out there and we got rambly. This is this, we don't get to talk about this stuff in public outside of like drunkenly talking to other reporters at the bar. So it's not polished. We don't, we don't know. You know, we, this is the one thing that we're not good at presenting to the public because it's the thing that we never present to the public. Like we don't show the public how the sausage gets made. The reporters are actually really bad at transparency and hopefully we didn't ramble too much.

Speaker 5:

Okay.

Speaker 4:

But you can contact us with any questions also and we may or may not be able to get back to you promptly if you can find a newspaper by googling. I'm getting terrible faces so players are not too available. Remember that? Yeah.

Speaker 5:

I am very available though. So anytime you're on Twitter and you want to hit me up and go to check a informant and uh, I'm pretty good about responding on that.

Speaker 2:

I don't even remember my Twitter handle right now. My Day, I changed my name to[inaudible],

Speaker 4:

so camp, but I remember what my actual, where the medicine of voice, I'm a sleeve respond to our social media. So I would potentially try get back to you if possible.

Speaker 5:

And we are North Bay, uh, a project of the new left coast media collective. And, uh, I would just like to say again, thank you all for joining us on this. And I think that if you made it this far, I think you have learned a tremendous amount about, you know, both being a reporter and talking to reporters as an activist. So I hope you guys found it as useful

Speaker 4:

as I found it to just be a part of. So with that, I will say go in peace and be in solidarity.