WEB EXCLUSIVE: The perils of speaking unpopular truths

Greg M. Schwartz

These are dicey times for speaking truth in America — Joseph Wilson questioned the Bush regime’s bogus evidence for going to war in Iraq and the Bushies countered by outing the identity of Wilson’s wife, an undercover CIA agent, for political revenge.

Speaking out against the powers that be is rarely a great career move, but throughout history there have been intrepid souls who feel compelled to do so out of principle. Add yours truly to the list. This is the last column you’re going to see from me for a while, as the editorial staff of the fall Stater has chosen not to bring me back, citing my application as “unprofessional.”

POT CALLS KETTLE BLACK! NEWS AT 11! I say this because the selectors seemingly ignored my clips and demonstrated ability, choosing instead to focus on one question to which they didn’t care for my answer. The question was, “The Stater plans to take risks next semester; what risks do you think it should take?”

Being that I was already on-staff and thought I had a personal relationship with the upcoming editor-in-chief (who was forum editor in the spring and consistently complimented me on my columns), I felt I could answer frankly.

“Is this BS or what?” I answered, “Because last semester’s application asked the same question and I challenge anyone around here to name any risks the paper has taken except for the stupid satire page.” I then suggested the Stater should scrap its AP news page — totally redundant for anyone who actually follows news — to create more room for Kent writers. I also suggested including some occasional news analysis stories.

I view the accusation of “unprofessional” as a weak cover for the real truth, which is that the editors were offended that I dared to insult their sense of how cutting-edge they like to believe they are, so they chose not to let me play their reindeer games anymore.

Most professional journalists agree these days that the mainstream media is going in a decidedly undemocratic direction as the swine of crony capitalism slowly but surely buy out control of the media. Hence, we live in a world where it’s becoming increasingly challenging to discern news from propaganda.

If this trend continues, the time will soon come when most journalists will look back at the present and wish they had taken a more radical stance against the government tyranny being perpetrated in the name of protecting us in the contrived “war on terror,” — excuse me, “global struggle against extremism.”

It is my belief that a college newspaper — unhindered by corporate oversight — should be a place for “fanning the flames of rebellion,” as the great patriotic journalist Samuel Adams would say, and even more so at a school with the history of Kent State. But the majority of today’s students seem to have little regard for the lasting significance of what happened here in 1970, or justice journalism in general, and that is a shame.

If you’ll miss my column, check out my recently launched blog, The Smoking Mirror, at http://thesmokingmirror.blogspot.com.

Meanwhile, I’ll be waiting to see what risks the Stater takes. I won’t hold my breath.

Greg M. Schwartz is a graduate journalism student and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].