You can also hear me offering my perspective on the week's news on WBAI on 99.5 FM in New York City or www.wbai.org every Tuesday morning at 7.10 AM with Michael G. Haskins on "The Morning Show."
But today I'm here to talk about something else-- a free weekly workshop I conduct called Guerrilla Journalism. It's designed to teach regular folks how to report and tell their own stories. Anyone can just walk into the workshop.
I have trained more than 20 people now who are ready to tell stories from their communities in the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn in New York and from other parts of the City and from around the country and even around the world. Now they are ready to create a media operation and launch a website that they will co-own www.guerrillajournalism.co
So Make sure you watch the video we've prepared for this campaign so you can meet the other members of our Guerrilla Journalism workshop. Our Guerrilla Journalism workshop meets every Monday evening from 6PM to 9PM in rented space at Sankofa Academy, 1670 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, New York, 11213.
First some background:
I studied journalism at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia. I then interned at The Wall Street Journal and was a freelance news reporter for The New York Times for a couple of years then was a reporter for The City Sun.
I believe it's DANGEROUS for media to be dominated by a handful of LARGE CORPORATIONS -- THE so-called mainstream newspapers like The New York Times, The Daily News, and The New York Post, or CNN, and the net work Television.
This means these large media outlets get to decide WHAT's the News, What's worth covering or NOT worth covering, and How to report them and present the story. Will it be featured prominently on the front pages of newspapers? Will it be buried somewhere deep on page 18?
The big companies sometimes spin stories to favor corporate entities or their own friends or AGENDA; they tend to focus on crimes committed in Black communities, as if these are the only places that crimes occur, and as if positive things don't happen in African American communities WHEN he know that crimes occur in other communities as well and BIG crimes on Wall Street.
Guerrilla Journalism wants to tell the stories from our communities, the good stories and the bad stories, from our perspective and within the proper context.
The large corporate media companies are also more likely to be manipulated by the establishment because in many ways they are also part of the establishment.
Let's take a few examples from The New York Times.
Remember when Eric Garner, an UNARMED Black man was strangled to death by a chokehold from a White NYPD cop named Daniel Pantaleo? The first story in The New York Times about the killing, on July 17, 2014 under the headline "Staten Island Man Dies After Police Try To Arrest Him ," didn't even mention the CHOKEHOLD. You can look it up for yourself. Not a WORD! It focused on Garner's weight. All the information came from the cops. So the Times was manipulated into spreading police propaganda. What if that young man, Ramsey Orta, had not taken the video of the strangling from his phone camera? We never would have learned the true STORY. THAT'S WHY we need independent grassroots Media.
Remember the shooting to death of Michael Brown in Ferguson by Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014? Six times he was shot. Including a bullet through the right eye and one on the TOP of his head. Then the police chief in Ferguson, Tom Jackson, started demonizing Mike Brown. He released that video claiming Brown had stolen a cigar from a store. Even if true, as if that was justification for the execution-style killing.
But Tom Jackson's strategy worked. Because on August 24, The New York Times had an article saying Mike Brown "WAS NO ANGEL ." Imagine that. Which one of us is an ANGEL? The New York Times later apologized for referring to Brown this way; but the damage had been done.
The demonization of Michael Brown, combined with the incompetence of the St. Louis County Prosecutor led to the non-indictment of Darren Wilson for killing Brown by the Grand Jury.
As we all know, the Department of Justice later released a report showing how corrupt the Ferguson Police Department was -- it had conspired for years with the City of Ferguson to falsely arrest African Americans in order to write them up on charges and generate revenue from bogus fines and other penalties. Maybe that was the reason why Darren Wilson approached Michael Brown in the first place.
It's incomprehensible why charges have not been filed on the entire Ferguson Police Department for conspiring to and violating the rights of African Americans for years as documented in the Department of Justice report. In Atlanta we saw how dozens of teachers were tried and convicted and given long sentences for allegedly altering students' grades: their transgressions even if true are not as serious as the crimes committed by the Ferguson Police Department against African Americans in Ferguson.
Now you see the critical need to have independent grassroots Media; to protect our communities from dangerous distortions from corporate Media and to ensure that our voices are heard and to bring comparative analyses you don't see in most corporate media outlets.
I started our FREE weekly workshop called Guerrilla Journalism about four years ago. I taught regular folk who had no background in journalism, First in HARLEM and now in the BED-STUY community in Brooklyn, how to become reporters and writers so they can tell their own stories and also report news from their communities.
So that way they are no longer at the MERCY of corporate newspapers like The New York Times, The Daily News, The New York Post, CNN and the network television news.
In our workshop in addition to learning the basic reporting and writing skills, we also: critique each other's articles; and, we read and critique articles from various newspapers and we de-construct some of the biases and distortions in those articles.
We also have guest speakers who are established writers or journalists. The late Gil Noble, the Producer and Host of "Like It Is" was a guest and others have included: Les Payne, the Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and former editor of Newsday; Herb Boyd, senior writer at The Amsterdam News and historian; Ron Feemster, Journalism Professor; Tom Moore, CBS radio reporter and Journalism Professor; Carla Murphy, Investigative Reporter, ColorLines magazine; Candace Kelley, former reporter at BET; and, Mark Stamey, Investigative Reporter.
Let me give you another example about the importance of Independent Media.
A few years ago, on October 2, 2011 the major dailies reported that a woman had been shot and killed by officers from the New York Police Department in Mid-Town Manhattan because she had attacked the cops with a knife. The New York Daily News's headline declared, "Woman shot to death after lunging at NYPD officers with knife."
The woman was not even named. But when one of our own Guerrilla Journalism workshop members, Shaheed Muhammad, went and reported from the scene in Mid-town Manhattan, it turns out that the woman, whose name was Yvette McNeil, in addition to being shot from the front had also been shot from BEHIND, by the police. She had been shot a total of 15 times.
Witnesses told him McNeil had been chasing another woman she'd quarreled with and DID NOT lunge at the police. Shaheed got information about the shots from behind from basic reporting -- He Called the Medical Examiner. It turns out that some of the other reporters from the corporate newspapers never even went to the scene and RELIED on information from The Police Department. Once again, Police propaganda dictating what the news should be. Not what really happened.
We want to make sure we stay on top of stories and report accurately incidents such as the recent deaths of African American males at the hands of police including:
Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old shot and killed November 22, 2014, in Cleveland Ohio; Eric Harris, shot and killed April 2, 2015 after he had already been chased and captured -- the volunteer cop, Robert Bates claimed he thought he was using his Taser; Walter Scott , fired eight times at from behind as he ran and hit by 5 bullets from Michael Slager, in North Charleston, S. Carolina, on April 4, 2015; and, Freddie Gray, who died April 19, after his spine was severed by police who had chased him.
We will also profile business owners, health-and-wellness practitioners, educators, and activists working to improve our communities. We will also cover stories that are brought to us by people from the community.
With Your Seed Money Support These are the things we plan to do:
1. We want to create a news website called www.guerrillajournalism.co
Someone else already owns www.guerrillajournalism.com domain name. But That's OKAY. This way with the WEBSITE the folks who've learned the reporting skills can tell the stories from their communities. They can also tell YOUR stories once we are up and running and you send us the INFORMATION.
2. We also want to have a monthly and then maybe later weekly print version of Guerrilla Journalism. In the past we actually took a collection amongst ourselves and printed 2 copies.
3. We need an office space where we can meet and work.
4. We need to purchase computers, cameras, and recorders.
5. We'd like to livestream our weekly workshop lectures so that YOU our supporters can also LEARN along with us.
So Please support our fund raising campaign with whatever you can.
One DAY we PLAN to help launch Guerrilla Journalism workshops in other neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy throughout the country.
Support "Journalism from the community; by the community; for the community."
If you prefer to mail in your contribution as well please make it out to Guerrilla Journalism and send it to: c/o P. O. Box 1472, New York, N.Y. , 10274.
Note: All the DVDs of our Guerrilla Journalism lectures that we're offering as gifts for your contributions wil be mailed out one week after our campaign ends on June 30, 2015.