Independent Investigative Journalism Since 1995
From the Desk of Robert Parry
Sometimes it's hard to assess progress. You keep chugging forward but often it doesn't seem like you're getting that far or at least not as far as you'd like. Over the past 11-plus years, that's how it's felt editing this investigative news Web site.
We started out in 1995 with the idea that the Internet - then still in its infancy - could permit the kind of serious journalism that was becoming an endangered species elsewhere.
In the mid-1990s, there was tabloid 24-hour cable news; there was hate-filled talk radio; there was inconsequential insider journalism from the Washington press corps. What there wasn't was a commitment to give the American people the information they needed to be informed citizens.
As a mainstream reporter who investigated the Iran-Contra Affair for the Associated Press and Newsweek - and saw how the full truth of that scandal was obscured - I feared that the United States was stumbling into dangerous terrain, a place where important news vital to a democratic Republic was devalued in favor of "content."
So, I cashed out my Newsweek retirement fund and started Consortiumnews.com. From the first, we had two primary goals: to generate well-written stories about real news and to alert the public to the disturbing transformation underway in the U.S. news media.
We achieved some notable successes - salvaging the history of the early Republican contacts with Iran's Islamist regime, exposing secrets about covert U.S. dealings with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, chronicling the CIA's extraordinary contra-cocaine admissions, explaining the corrupting financial influence of Rev. Sun Myung Moon's organization on the GOP, and many more.
Regrettably, however, I couldn't match our journalistic achievements with my fundraising skills. So, in early 2000, I put the Web site on a part-time basis and went to work as an editor at the business wire service Bloomberg News to pay off the bills.
One of our last stories before that change was an article describing how mainstream and right-wing reporters were distorting Election 2000 by falsifying the words of Vice President Al Gore, such as the apocryphal quotes about "inventing the Internet" and having "started" the Love Canal clean-up. [See "Al Gore v. the Media."]
Though we did keep the Web site alive and wrote some valuable articles during Campaign 2000, we could have done a lot more. I firmly believe that full-time reporting at our site could have contributed to a different outcome for the country.
Similarly, our part-time operation did the best it could in the crucial years of 2001-2004. We challenged the intelligence case for invading Iraq and warned about the military dangers that lay ahead. But again it was not enough.
In spring 2004, I quit Bloomberg News to write Secrecy & Privilege and to pick up the pace at Consortiumnews.com.
Over the past year or so, we have transformed the Web site into an almost daily source for news, posting fresh stories on a variety of topics, though still with our focus on the Bush administration's ongoing lies about the Iraq War and the erosion of civil liberties in the United States.
In 2006, for the first time, our annual budget topped $100,000, reaching $109,000, still an amazingly small amount for the impact that our journalism has. Not only do our stories reach hundreds of thousands of readers a month at our free Web site, but they are re-posted widely across the Internet, reaching millions of people worldwide.
We also are putting the finishing touches on a sequel to Secrecy & Privilege, entitled Neck Deep. While Secrecy & Privilege concentrated on how George H.W. Bush laid the foundation for the Bush Dynasty, Neck Deep examines how George W. Bush restored his family to power and what that has meant to the American Republic.
Despite our journalistic accomplishments, however, I must admit I'm still slogging along on the fundraising front.
For us to maintain our current pace - and hopefully expand our work - we need the support of you, our readers. Some have put in good words for us with institutional funders, such as Working Assets, and we certainly hope those initiatives bear fruit.
But the bottom line is that we are reliant on the generosity of our readers to pay most of the bills. Without your help, we simply won't have a future.
We have set a target of $25,000 for our mid-year fundraiser, which represents a bare-bones amount for producing the journalism and paying other expenses.
So, if you can, please consider a tax-deductible donation to the Consortium for Independent Journalism, our parent organization.
For donations of $100 or more, you can receive an autographed, special pre-release-date copy of Neck Deep (expected out in early July) or a signed copy of my previous two books, either Secrecy & Privilege or Lost History.
You can make a contribution either by credit card by clicking here or by sending a check to:
Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
2200 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201.
For those who use PayPal, donations can be made to our account, firstname.lastname@example.org.
(If you wish to receive a gift book, please specify which one.)
Thanks so much for your support.
Robert Parry, Editor