On the Rare Journalistic Habit of ‘Thinking Independently’

On the occasion of the first annual Izzy Awards from Jeff Cohen’s Park Center for Independent Media, the son of progressive journalism icon I.F. Stone, Jeremy Stone (Consortium News, 4/1/09), describes Stone’s most journalistically valuable quality–“his capacity for thinking independently”–along with its rewards and consequences:

In the McCarthy era, because he spoke in defense of Jeffersonian principles, people were afraid to be seen with him. When he supported the rights of Palestinians, Jewish institutions would not invite him to speak. And when the National Press Club refused to serve his black guest lunch, he quit the club, isolating himself from his colleagues….

Today’s Izzy Award winners do have points of resemblance to I.F. Stone. Glenn Greenwald is a close reader of official documents and a principled critic of the tendency of the Executive Branch to exceed its rightful powers. He has been a fearless critic of government officials and complacent reporters. He has shown a willingness to challenge conventional pieties, including unthinking support for Israeli hardliners.

Amy Goodman‘s career also has similarities. She speaks up for the disenfranchised and gives her audience facts they don’t hear from the traditional media. She is an investigative journalist and writes often about human rights.

Jeremy goes on to identify a key factor in Goodman’s success: “Like I. F. Stone and his weekly, she founded a vehicle, Democracy Now!, that takes no advertising or money from corporations or government. She confronts authority no matter how high.”