On Blogging and I.F. Stone

Over at NYCO’s blog, there was a very interesting discussion on why so many area bloggers were focusing on local and regional issues, instead of imitating other bloggers writing (from both the right and left) on national politcal issues. My contribution to this discussion was modest, my sense that the writings of the big-time national bloggers did not have an appreciable impact on my life. I do believe that the discussions on local issues hit me where I live: economic development, history, food, community planning, environmental concerns–just to name a few.

After doing a little web surfing today, I realized what the national blogs are missing–the spirit of their intelletual forebear I.F. Stone. Stone was a reporter who never attended press briefings, didn’t try to develop sources with high placed officials and for most of his career was self-published. The I.F. Stone Weekly was a broadsheet with a single writer and a circulation that topped out at 70,000. However, among his accomplishments was being the first journalist to stand up to Joe McCarthy, writing the definitive history of the Korean War and breaking the lies behind the Tonkin Gulf incident that led the US into Vietnam.

I.F. Stone disdained the “on-one-hand, this; on-the-other-hand, that” journalism that still exists today. Taking unpopular stands led him to be blacklisted and smeared as a communist. However, he despised all bullies regardless of their politics. In an interview taped during the 1970’s he prophesized the crumbling of the rigid Soviet regime and in the 1980’s wrote to The Nation praising their criticism of the leftist Sandinistas for crushing press and free speech freedoms in Nicaragua.

In a biographical reminiscence of Stone in The Nation, the journalist Andy Kopkind is quoted as saying that the I. F. Stone Weekly “organized the consciousness of its readers somewhat in the way a community action group organizes a neighborhood: for awareness, understanding, action.” This is what I realize current political bloggers lack. There is no passion for social change and real people in their writings. Their concerns are parochial and very partisan.

I.F. Stone lived out the words of his credo: “To write the truth as I see it; to defend the weak against the strong; to fight for justice; and to seek, as best I can, to bring healing perspectives to bear on the terrible hates and fears of mankind, in the hope of someday bringing about one world, in which men will enjoy the differences of the human garden instead of killing each other over them.”

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