Monday, March 2, 2015

Andrew Breitbart's Dream: 
An Army of Citizen Journalists
Jim Geraghty won the ACU Journalist of the Year award at this year's CPAC.  In a column he put up today at National Review Online, he gives the speech he wished he'd given at that moment, and in the column he gives a great and touching tribute to the late Andrew Breitbart:
In this tribute, I think Jim put his finger on the one thing that made Andrew inspirational to so many.  He never was about "Look what *I'm* doing!" or "Look how awesome *I* am!"  Instead his attitude was always "Look what *you're* doing!" and "Look how awesome *you* are!"

Andrew didn't want to build a large following for himself.  What he wanted was to build an army of citizen journalists and then unleash it on the DNC Media.  He knew how to empower people. 

As Geraghty points out, Andrew had a deliberate habit he engaged in: when people approached him with news tips and story ideas, just passing it along, handing it off to a professional, Andrew would turn it around on them: "No, you're the one that should write that! You can do it!"

Too often I think Conservatives & people who care about what's happening to this country sit back and wait for the Professional Conservative Media to write that story or deal with this or that issue.
"Don't wait for the 'professionals'! You can do it! You write it!" 

I'm sure Andrew appreciated being approached and having people share their ideas for great articles with him.  But he didn't want to become this leader who borrows ideas from other people. That creates passivity.  "No need for me to get involved, I'll just pass this idea off to one of the big important professionals."  Andrew was all about getting people off the sidelines and into the game.

And the tragic thing  is that, for me, it took him dying to finally make me take that step.   I was happy sitting on the sidelines, cheering him and others on.  I liked it there.  There was no real effort involved.  Nobody says mean things to you way up there in the stands.  All the calumny is directed at  the people who are actually in the game.  The Big Professional Conservative People are the targets of all the controversy so you stay where it's safe and cheerlead to give them moral support.

And when Andrew passed I spent two weeks examining myself, wondering "Now that he's gone, who do I cheer for? Why the hell am I still sitting up here just watching after all this time?"

Nobody volunteers you to get out of the stands.  "Hey you, get out there and start playing!"  You run out onto the field because you want to be there.  You want to get involved. You want to make a difference.  You have to have that passion within yourself.

And Andrew understood this.  When passionate people came to him with their ideas, he understood what would happen if he allowed them to just hand off their 'game' to him.  They would get passive.  They would start to lose their passion.  Their involvement in things would never extend beyond contacting him or some other Big Conservative Media Person  and handing off the ball.
Andrew's vision for the New Media he was building wasn't a handful of Big Conservative Media People in the game while millions cheered them on from the sidelines.  Andrew's vision was far different: an army of millions of citizen journalists covering stories the DNC Media deliberately distorted or ignored.  An army of passionate, relentless fact-checkers blowing up every attempted smear and hatchet job launched by political activists masquerading as reporters.

That's why he made a habit of stunning people with the encouragement of "No, YOU write it! You can do it!"

It has been forgotten in the early days of the American Republic, citizen journalists abounded.  You didn't have to go to a university and take a journalism course to launch a newspaper and write about the events of the day.  People just did it.  Nowadays some people play up how bad that was, and there were abuses to be sure. But as time passed journalism became a professional thing, and this allowed the Old Media to start playing gatekeepers and lapdogs to the powerful.

The power of the Internet, Talk Radio and Cable TV broke the information logjam that allowed the Old Media to control the national conversation and sell false narratives to the public.  The Old Media is still mad as hell about it, and this FCC takeover of the Internet by the State is just the latest attempt they're making to go back to the days they could control the flow of information.

But it's too late.  Once people taste this kind of freedom, they'll never roll over and hand it back.  The New Media has been launched.  They can't stop the signal.

Andrew's dream is coming true. An army of informed, involved citizen journalists that can't be controlled or bought off  or scared off.  There is hope for freedom and liberty in this country still, as long as just one person stands up and fights for it.