Typically, this 50-Year Throwback Thursday section features the LA Free Press Issue of 50 years-ago. Today, I’m sure we’re out of bounds… either because the following – provided in response to the Boston Globe’s Challenge to stand up for a free press- is based on our principles of MORE THAN 50 years (May of 1964 to be exact) OR because the document below giving their rational was actually first published in 2007 – just 11 years ago.
Of course, it’s not like any of those other responses – it’s not all about the Trumpian Way, and the dangers of same. Yes, his progenitors had made their terrible mark back then – in various forms, in too many places, and to too awful a degree – but… Art’s discourse is as it had always been – on the positive side.
He simply published the Los Angeles Free Press in accordance to his beliefs, and the very essence of it did what a free press was to do. And his paper gave rise to 600 more. (It is why our participation in this ‘challenge’ is a bit awkward for us – just now declaring the Right to a Free Press when, so long ago, our fought the good fight – literally.) Minds melded, new ideas blossomed, diversity was the core of a greater unification, and a war was put out of business. One might think there was a Nobel Peace Prize somewhere in the mix. (Not yet, my friends… but surely a thought worth acting on.)
This will not be a new commitment for us – nor a new strategy for us. In fact, what we were doing back then is remarkably similar to what today’s ‘free press’ has evolved into. As you see, Art’s original vision statements – here’s one: “Every reader Is A Reporter” – have come about (Got Facebook?); Fake News is falling to the insistence for truth, going high instead of low, calling out injustice – and getting personal viewpoints instead of the (Establishment’s) third party view, all now fully incorporated components in today’s free press. How nice is that? So, from the Granddaddy of them all, here is what the free press is actually supposed to do. (And, yes, it is a bit different than most people think it is.)
I’ll add this one last note: We were different so long ago, we are so different right now – but our Objectives are the same.
Our format – 50 years back was different than the standard press of the day: Reporters wrote about things that they did not and regularly gave their opinions and, too, our news was very much ‘of the moment’ – ‘live’ reports of participants in, usually, anti-establishment protests but new society efforts (the ‘Movements’ – Womens’ Lib, Free Speech, Psychedelics, Student Rights, Gay Rights,… and ‘happenings’ (art, music, theater, lectures, and the like) as well. It was an effective way toward our basic objective of birthing a better society: overcoming what was wrong by doing what was right: Dow made napalm, people protested, we gave them our support.
Today, we are not first and foremost about the ‘new’ ‘news’. Instead, though it may sound oxymoronic, we lead with ‘old news’: articles remarkably close in content to the concerns of today. is Dow that different than Monsanto? Are we selling billions of dollars of weapons to opposing countries – again, was the Ecology Movement so far afield from Climate Change? You’ll enjoy seeing what was (here’s another one – all those Letters to the Editor assuring us that a plastic card would never replace money, and that the government did not care to see what we were buying where). But, too, and to the point – where did good intentions get steered off track to one that has merely taken us back. Read the lessons of history and the commentary of change. As I said, it will be a trip, and it will take you to where we once all knew we should go.
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