"The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?

"We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men.

"We are intellectual prostitutes."

There are advantages to working for free. Tim Harris (Director of Real Change, where I write and edit most of the time) hasn't a hope in hell of getting me to keep my opinions out of what I write, and he's got more sense than to try (so has the Great Speckled Bird). The only control he has over me, or any of the other volunteer writers, is to refuse to print our stuff -- and he can only exercise that so far, because 1) there are more of us than him, and 2) he can't fill the entire paper two-handed. And because of his own policies, the rest of us are getting so knowledgeable about putting out the paper that if we really wanted to we could take our marbles and go play somewhere else, put out our own paper. "If you don't like the media, become the media" -- my mother started her own newsletter in Newberg, Oregon, because she found out there was only one paper in town and that offended her sense of rightness. These days anybody can start a paper -- cynicism like John Swinton's is cheap, and lazy.

The existence of the alternative media, little papers that pay their writers in too much coffee and not enough peanuts, is, IMABO*, the only thing that keeps journalism in this country anywhere near the track. Because of the alternative media, mainstream journals are forced to cover stories they would otherwise ignore. Because of the alternative media, readers can read coverage of the same issue from several opposing -- and openly claimed -- biases, and compare them. Because of the alternative media, John Swinton does have an option if he really wants to tell the truth and damn the torpedoes. He can give up the good life of a prostitute, and go where he can do it for love. :)

*IMABO: In My Admittedly Biased Opinion

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