A call for participatory journalism

Nov 6th, 2009 | By | Category: Columns, From the Archives, Opinions

by Jason McGill

Welcome to the discussion! Whether you’ve been with us since the beginning or just picked up The Underground for the first time, thank you. You’re the reason we do what we do.

Since you’re reading an alternative newspaper, I don’t have to convince you of the sorry state of the news media.Walter_Cronkite_In_Vietnam2

If they aren’t framing every story as a left-right shouting match, they use the shield of so-called objectivity to quietly condone the status quo.

It’s no wonder viewers, listeners and readers are seeking alternative media more than ever.

Readers like you look for something more than just the standard fare when it comes to news. You’re naturally curious; you like to look into different sources of information.

You’re a discerning reader; you don’t take things at face value. You search for unique stories, moving stories and divergent opinions.

In other words, whether you know it or not, you were already an Underground reader before you picked up this newspaper.

As smart, savvy, independent thinkers, our readers possess all the necessary qualities to be great journalists.

Take the next step. Join us as an Underground writer!

Famed independent journalist I.F. Stone got his start with a newspaper he created in high school called Progress.

From such humble beginnings, he went on to found I.F. Stone’s Weekly in 1953, a pioneering newsletter that fought McCarthyism, racism and was the first American publication to question the official account of the Gulf of Tonkin. There are now half a dozen awards for independent journalism named after Stone, given by organizations from Harvard to Berkeley.

Missouri native Walter Cronkite dropped out of college at UT Austin to take a job reporting for the Houston Post. Of course, his later contributions to television news were lauded at length after his death last June. His work that struck me the most was his coverage of the moon landing. Cronkite’s palpable excitement belied his curiosity and thirst for knowledge.

Neither of these men had formal training or journalism degrees when they started. What they had is what you have, a discerning eye for information, natural curiosity and a love of the truth.

And you don’t face nearly the obstacles those men did. You don’t have to start your own publication. Zach and Jenny Becker, our Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, respectively, have done that for you. You don’t need to quit school to write for this paper, either. In fact, we would specifically recommend that you not do that.

This is a newspaper in the old style; a community meeting place rather than a dry listing of the day-to-day machinery of the University. If you have a story to tell, if you have something to say, reach out to us. Shock us. Make us laugh or bring us to tears. Give voice to the voiceless. Satiate the burning desire to communicate. Being part of the discussion means being part of the solution.

Stone and Cronkite are gone now. They are passing the torch to you. Come tell your story.

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