The Future Of News Is For Reality Producers: A Good Conversation With Jon Rappoport
"The center of the universe this is what I have decided this place is..."
This is how independent investigative journalist Jon Rappoport started out responding to my video interview questions focusing on media, economic interests influencing the news, grassroots journalism, blogs, and the future of online news.
Robin Good (left) and Jon Rappoport (right)
Jon Rappoport, is the author and chief editor of Nomorefakenews.com, a unique web site, which nonetheless the unorthodox look and apparent lack of order, contains hundreds of extremely interesting articles on topics ranging from HIV to the Iraq war, economy, alternative energy and more.
Jon Rappoport has a long professional experience worked as a free-lance investigative reporter, which he has been doing for over 20 years while writing articles on politics, health, media, culture and art for many newspapers and magazines including LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, Village Voice, Nexus, CBS Healthwatch, and several others. Jon has also appeared as a guest on over 200 radio and television programs, including ABC's Nightline, Tony Brown's Journal (PBS), and Hard Copy.
For the last ten years though, Jon has operated largely independently of the mainstream media because, as he puts it, "My research was not friendly to the conventional media."
If I had to describe Jon's goal and mission as an online reporter, I would say that what he is after is
a) making people understand that there is much more beyond and underneath the "reality" we are served through the media and have learned to make "familiar" through our senses;
b) that asking questions and dissecting news to see how much in-depth a reporter has gone in uncovering the whole anatomy of a story is what we should be doing all the time;
c) that taking up the opportunity to paint our own reality IS the future we have now available to ourselves.
As many intellectually gifted individuals Jon is also a multidisciplinary master. As a painter, Jon has seen his work shown in art galleries from NY to LA and as a poet he has seen his verses brought to print by The Massachusetts Review.
During his brief stay here in Rome, here is what Jon had to say, when confronted with my direct questions about the media, its credibility and the major transformations happening to the world of news-making.
These were the questions that I had for him (with my full manual transcript of his answers - you can also watch the original video interview linked at the bottom):
1) Where is the place to go and find credible news online?
There are many different sites, but I don't think you can say that there is one site that has all the news that you want, or is always giving you exactly the news that you need. Most news sites tend to be compilations of stories from all sorts of different place...
and you pick and choose.
For example, if you go to www.whatreallyhappened.com you'll find maybe fifteen, twenty stories per day. Depending on the day you may find a certain number of them, five, ten to be useful, while others not so much. So, it really depends on what you are really looking for.
But yes, by and large it is much better than mainstream. There is no question about it. Because it is going behind the obvious props of the story.
2) What is preventing mainstream media to give us a better and more balanced picture of what is happening around the world?
One is that most reporters that you are dealing with in the major media and their editors, are very conventional minds. They have been educated in that way, they have been raised in that way, they have gotten into their business that way, ... and for them reaching for the ceiling is only seven or eight feet high.
Whereas for you or me, say you want to get up to twenty or thirty feet, these people don't know what these feet are all about, if you were to say.
What's beyond that?
So it's like a closed system.
And people have to understand that. At ground level the reporters and the editors they don't want to know a great many subjects. If they even started to know about it they wouldn't be able to process that information. So, they are looking in a certain frame for information that fits within that general frame. And once they get inside that frame, they go to recognize sources of information that will give them stories that are interesting, exciting, titillating, controversial within that particular frame and those sources are usually government spokespeople.
So the product that is being turned out is promoted as being the news as an information but actually it should say:
This is all of the information that fits this frame, as fed to us conventional minds, by mostly government and corporate sources. That's the description of what you are getting.
So at one level that is why the news doesn't penetrate, that's why you don't get what you need, doesn't give you what you want, or what you are really looking for, but at a higher level if a story comes along that needs to be spiked, or censored, or modulated, or cut off at the knees, that if it broke it would be extremely disturbing to the status quo, like 911, like AIDS, like the war on drugs, the war on terrorism, the war on Iraq... those stories can be and have been censored from the top; which means for example the publisher or the owner of the television network of the newspaper, or the corporation that owns the newspaper or the television network.
Those things do happen. They obviously do happen.
But in the work-a-day level, what's being turned out for people is a story, is a kind of a multi-headed hydra of "This is reality" and this is all within this particular frame. And in order to get that to work out on a work-a-day basis,
day in, day out, hour in and hour out, you are not sitting on top of people shoulders saying "do this, don't that".
These people are robotized to begin with.
They have their level of understandings, they have their level of education, they have an inner kind of machinery within themselves that says "hey, hey, hey, watch out, you are getting outside of the frame, come back..." and they do it all on their own. They censor, they edit, they constrict, they limit without anybody telling them what to do. That is the nature of the business and I would hazard to say that it always has been.
There are myths and legends of a time when the press was freer and so on...I don't think that is really true. I think it was always this way... it's just that now people have awakened to realize what is really going on.
3) Which are the vested interests that influence media and are most resistant to individual freedom?
Absolutely. I'll give three quick examples:
1) The oil industry,
2) The CIA,
3) The medical cartel, pharmaceutical industry.
Those are major interests that can impact on the media and do.
And no matter how much grassroots efforts is aimed at trying to overcome the influence of those forces, it's going to be very tough. Because those institutions thrive on survival. In other words: you can take the CIA like a rag doll and beat it over the head from now until 2015, from 80 different angles, and expose scandals from within the CIA, past, present.... but is the CIA going to disband because of that... absolutely not. In fact it may end up getting more money from the US government to "restructure", if such scandals ever broke out.
So these gigantic interests are not going to be overturned as institutions by exposure in the press.
But what can happen, especially in the case of the medical cartel, is that people begin to walk away, they say: "We don't want these drugs, we know they are toxic, they are killing us, they are maiming us, they are doing all kinds of irreparable harm, and we are going to desert this system", and this is what has been happening in the last 50 years.
4) Should young people trash their TV?
Television it's not a good thing to watch unless you are watching it to see how the stories are being out together and why. If you are doing that there is a great deal that you can learn: it's like a course on propaganda.
You want to know how the public is being brainwashed: watch television and see how it's put together; the commercials, the shows, and so forth. But if you are watching it just to watch, it it's much better to be your own media.
5) How can one discern and understand real news from well deceived propaganda on today's big media?
I would say: "How many levels behind the obvious is the story that you are reading cutting?"
You can tell, first of all, if a story is just giving you a superficial wash or if some reporter is actually trying to get behind the scenes of the event to bring out the truth.
Secondly, is that truth really being punched up by the reporter or the media utlet, or is it just dying on the vine, amidst all the other nonsense in the story.
You can get a feel for that, and I have to say that, most investigative reporting of any significance is happening on the Internet.
You get what is called investigative reporting that does occasionally happen in the major media and some good stories are put out, but the ratio of good to bad, in the major media, is gigantic.
On the Internet, by and large, you find you find more acute investigative reporting, and you find reporters who are not afraid to infer and draw conclusions from what they have found. In the same way that you would make a circumstantial case in court. Because there are obvious things that you can infer.
Now to be able to pick the wheat from the chafe on the Internet that depends on the intelligence and the acuity of the person who is doing reading, that is all up to them.
But that is kind of the way that you can begin to see what investigative reporting is all about. Does it really get behind the obvious Who, What, Where, Why and When of the story, and does it begin to go into influences in the background who may have caused this event? What evidence is there for that?
Is there a cover story being floated to make people think that the event is about X when it is really Y. If so, what is that cover story, and who is promoting it?
When you get into that territory you have a chance of finding out something important.
6) Do you see blogs and bloggers play an important role into this?
Yes, but there is something about that term (blog) that I still to understand.
I have a web site site NoMoreFakeNews. I have been writing news articles on my own for the last four years on it. Is that a blog?
Depends on how you define the word. It was originally used to mean a rant, then it got mean an editorial, then it got to mean facts mixed with editorial...
I prefer to think of it as: an individual who decides to put out their own version of reality on the Internet.
Is there a future for that?
That is the future baby; that is the future.
But it is left to the reader to decide how much, to what degree, he agrees with this alternative view of reality. And obviously for that some facts will have to be presented by the "blogger".
But that is what I am interested in: decentralizing reality.
So the more (blogs) the merrier as far as I am concerned.
7) What do you see as the future of news?
The future of news on the Internet to me looks like an increasing amount of fragmentation as different people begin to specialize in different kinds of scandals and events and are very tenacious about it; you can already see this happening in the past four years, since the September 2001 incident, where people are continuing to investigate, investigate, investigate a certain area. Fantastic, continue! Do it, do it, do it.
Then you find other people who are more generalists or who are offering solutions. Somebody will come along who is an "energy reporter", but who will also be linking to other published articles about actual alternatives that work. Alternatives work in the energy field both for the individual as well for small companies...
You are going to get a lot of hybrids of animals presenting the news and it is all good.
The worst thing is when people on the Internet who are providing news trying to eat each other. That is completely stupid. That is like being inside a room full of gold bars, where there is enough gold for everybody and three guys suddenly start arguing about who picked up the bar, first.
There is plenty of room for everybody.
Finally, when you have a proliferation of realities being presented eventually what is going to happen, is that there will be people on the Internet, among which I would consider myself, that now begin to take up the whole question reality, as a serious thing. Because reality no longer looks like a monolith that emanates from a single source, it looks just the opposite and is getting more opposite all the time. Therefore now we can really legitimately get into the question of "what are we talking about when we say "reality", what is that all about and what can we learn from this discussion."
Because for the elites that control things it's all about making us see their picture of reality. And when we stop doing that we have to start creating our own.
8) Are we then going to be reality producers and is the individual is going to be the supreme director of all this?
It actually is already the case. But we just don't know it fully yet.
But we are getting to understand it more and more fully.
This to me is the renaissance of the next millennium.
Producers of your own reality. That's the story.
For that you need imagination, you need creativity, you need to be willing to invent, to improvise, to use facts and images, and so forth, but not be slave to them. And that is what the future holds.
9) What is freedom of choice all about?
Freedom of choice in this context means you have an infinite menu of realities to choose from and of course you create your own. That is what freedom of choice is all about. That is where it comes from and that is what it is for.
Everything that can be done must be done to keep the Internet free in the sense that anyone is able to come online, and start a site or a blog, to be a producer of reality, to be a creator of reality, to report on various realities, to expose various realities, to turn them upside down, inside out, to do all of those things without hindrance.
As long as we maintain that platform some amazing things will continue to happen.
But we cannot allow people to start to try to limit our choices of what is possible to do on the Internet and what is not.
That is all completely crazy.
This video interview lasts 18'.
Viewing of the video is possible only for those of you having a good ADSL or broadband/cable connection to the Internet.
BitTorrent download (via Prodigem):
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