Mar
01
2005

Fear & Favor 2004 -- The Fifth Annual Report

How power shapes the news

“We can get five reporters a month to do news stories about your product. If you want to be interviewed by 10 to 20 reporters per month, we can arrange that, too. . . . Media Relations, Inc. has placed tens of thousands of news stories on behalf of more than 1,000 clients.—Media Relations, Inc. solicitation The PR agency’s promises are a stark reminder that the news is, in many ways, a collision of different interests. The traditional tenets of journalism are challenged and undermined by other factors: Advertisers demand “friendly copy,” while other commercial interests work to place news […]

Mar
01
2005

America's Debt to Gary Webb

Punished for reporting the truth while those who covered it up thrived

Gary Webb: His Unknown Gift to America

In 1996, journalist Gary Webb wrote a series of articles that forced a long-overdue investigation of a very dark chapter of recent U.S. foreign policy—the Reagan/Bush administration’s protection of cocaine traffickers who operated under the cover of the Nicaraguan Contra war in the 1980s. For his brave reporting at the San Jose Mercury News, Webb paid a high price. He was attacked by journalistic colleagues at the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, American Journalism Review (11/96, 1-2/ 97, 6/97) and even the Nation magazine (6/2/97). Under this media pressure, his editor, Jerry Ceppos, sold out the story […]

Mar
01
2005

John Hess, 1917-2005

Editor's Note

John Hess

This issue's cover story concerns the late journalist Gary Webb, but another reporter's recent death was just as great a loss. John Hess, a great reporter and a great friend of FAIR, died on January 21 at the age of 87. John used to say that the term "investigative reporter" was redundant, because all reporters are supposed to be investigators, rather than simply parroting what people in power were saying. On one issue he was nearly alone in showing skepticism: As far back as the 1980s, John was debunking claims of a "crisis" in Social Security, pointing out how such […]