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Advocacy Journalism

May 16, 2011

 

 

 There’s an old saying that goes like this:  whoever keeps silent, consents.  But sometimes silence says a lot, and it doesn’t consent at all.

 When black Americans began to protest being treated as less than human, they began the  Civil Rights Movement.  Their was no internet back then, and no Twitter, no cellphones with video recorders, and no social media.  Their protests and marches would have been just them and the cops and the hot sun and the hatred, if it hadn’t been for television.  Itwas television that brought the struggle into the homes and lives of average Americans.   All of a sudden, the violence and the inhumanity couldn’t be dragged into the  station, out of sight.  It just couldn’t be hidden any more.  People were confronted by it, and Americans who’d had no idea of what living under Jim Crow laws was like, were able to finally see and understand how men and women would choose death if they couldn’t be free.

The television networks and TV reporters and journalists took huge risks in even reporting on the Movement at all.  The violence that hadalready spilled into the streets could spill into their streets just as easily, because good old boys didn’t take kindly to anyone messing around with their traditional way of life.  Americans of all colors became targets when they stood with black Americans.  Because of that, many times images weren’t accompanied by overt advocacy for marchers and protestors– but the advocacy was there anyway.  It was in the silence, in daring to bring prejudice and hatred into the light of day, where it could be seen for what it was.  The images spoke for themselves and no thinking, decent man could see them and not stand up for what they knew to be right.

 

 

 

Sam Adams, Firebrand of the Revolution: Journalist or Blogger?

May 10, 2011

Journalists are supposed to report the News.  They’re supposed to be governed by a Code of Ethics that demands  they report News without offering personal bias, deliberately distorting facts, or taking incidents out of context.  The Code of Ethics suggests multiple times that Journalists avoid conflicts of interest.  Bloggers, on the other hand, want to convince people of their points of view and, in doing that, they let it all hang out.  There is no tactic of communication  too high or too low to be undertaken by a blogger on a mission.

Samuel Adams, Firebrand of Revolution

Samuel Adams, Firebrand of Revolution

     Sam Adams, American Revolutionary activist, was a blogger and not a journalist.  He began his written activism by writing hundreds of articles for the Boston Gazette and quickly moved from news writing to opinion writing.  His work was done for one purpose:  he portrayed the British soldiers in Boston as uncouth, vile, criminal louts and kept up a running cry that they be removed from American soil.  Adams started a kind of early Associated Press, called “Journal of Occurrences” and each day for 300 days, published the crimes of British soldiers.  He made sure Colonials knew of the course and abusive language the soldiers used, of the petty thefts they committed, and the rapes and assaults that were perpetrated upon the fine ladies of the land.  Adams reported all of these with a sense of well-written  moral outrage, and his spicy accounts were much more interesting than the local weather forecasts that routinely filled other newspapers.   The British troops were eventually removed from Boston, and Adams ceased publication of the “Journal of Occurrences.”  The Revolutionaries, of course, moved right on into throwing tea into Boston Harbour and throwing the British out of the Colonies.  God bless America and so forth.

The Journal accomplished its mission and fanned flames of hatred against the British but did have one minor flaw:  a great deal of what Adams reported as fact was not true.  Many of the occurrences that were reported weren’t even accidentally misrepresented, but instead were deliberate lies.  Based on these facts, it’s clear that Adams was not a good Journalist but he was a damned fine opinion writer, activist, and all-around trouble maker for anybody in a red coat.

Samuel Adams Lager, Firebrand of Hangovers

Samuel Adams Lager, Firebrand of Hangovers

 

 
 
Photo of Sam Adams from earlyamerica.com  and photo of Samuel Adams Lager from boston.com