In October 2015, I was ready to call it quits. On year 10 of dead-end, soul-sucking corporate media jobs, I realized I couldn’t lead a fulfilling life making so little impact and simply serving as part of the problem.
I’d worked inside the belly of the beast, having booked guests and produced segments at RNC television—I mean Fox News (one day I’ll write a book)—followed by a year-long stint at MSNBC. After three-and-a-half years in cable news, I knew I couldn’t spend the next 20-30 years pushing false narratives and substanceless drivel.
After a 2-year-hiatus in the non-profit world (hence my distaste for all things meetings and bureaucracy), I took a major risk at 27, leaving a comfy digital producer position in favor of becoming a full-time writer.
The $25,000 pay cut was a tough pill to swallow, but it was now or never.
Over the next two years, I wrote about media and politics for TVNewser.com and then TheWrap.com, but again, I was trapped in the bullshit-substanceless-clickbait-drivel vortex.
I knew I had a unique voice and determination within—I just couldn’t find the platform to unleash it.
Then one November night in 2015, I pushed through the flu to go watch Cenk Uygur give a talk about his career in New York City.
We spoke after as I groveled at his feet for a janitor job at The Young Turks.
As if the universe was finally ready to stop fucking with me and throw me a bone, Cenk called me a month later to offer me a first for The Young Turks—a reporter job, covering the presidential campaign.
A year and a few months later—and a whirlwind campaign mixed with witnessing corruption and searing injustice nationwide—I can honestly say I’m the luckiest journalist in America.
In a country with very few left.
What drapes TV screens and fills up newspapers and websites on a daily basis isn’t journalism—it’s infotainment (and frankly, not very entertaining).
I remember spending a day in a Portland, Oregon houseless community, covering the growing population of working people who get paid such poverty wages, they can’t even afford to put a roof over their head.
But when I turned on the TV in the hotel, CNN was having a “debate” over the latest series of tweets from then-candidate Donald Trump.
Yup, I know.
This plays out every single day: real issues, real struggle, REAL stories lay silent as overpaid, glorified PR-spinsters put on makeup, hold up a microphone, and claim to be “holding the powerful accountable”.
The only thing they are holding is a fat wallet and a meaningless career.
And when I say real stories, I’m not simply talking about what I personally think is important.
I mean life and death situations that without the proper spotlight, can get people killed: faulty big oil pipelines; communities with toxic water they don’t even know about and the media ignores; banks STILL illegally tossing families on the streets; politicians voting against making life-saving prescription drugs cheaper.
The list goes on (and doesn’t even touch on the military industrial complex and total propaganda “journalism” that launches us and keeps us in perpetual war, crippling our families, economy, and very way of life).
So, if you’ve read this far, you probably agree with me (or at least have an open mind).
Experiencing all this injustice up close and personal has both drained me, at times depressed me, and at times—made me extremely hopeful.
The hope appeared from the dozens of aspiring, fearless independent journalists I’ve met: in Standing Rock, Flint, East Chicago, and dozens of other cities and communities I’ve covered over the last year or so.
These folks have the potential to do great, impactful things, but due to the digital diarrhea we currently live in, they’re often crowded out or have their work buried underneath all the clutter.
So why not bring everyone together in one place?
That’s my concept for Truth Against The Machine.
The name is simple. Everything in me starts with truth. I’m a no bullshit, keep it real kind of guy. I don’t believe in talking or acting one way when the camera rolls and another when it’s off.
I also believe that if we’re going to be depended on for facts and truth, we have to make sure we have the facts right. Sure, sometimes we’ll mess up. We’re human. When it happens, we will correct it and move on.
Against the Machine represents my healthy dose of anger and determination toward the revolving door that has hijacked our country: the corrupt cabal of banks, big corporations, lobbyists, corporate media, and politicians, all working together in one, big, corrupt circle-jerk.
Together, through a collection of independent journalists telling the stories happening in their communities—ones the local and national media won’t touch with a 10-foot pole because it might make the powerful or moneyed interests look bad—I truly believe we can create a thriving journalistic platform that creates the REAL journalism stars of today and tomorrow.
And if we do it right, maybe even change.
Because make no mistake about it: makeup doesn’t make you a journalist. An iPhone or a microphone doesn’t either. And having a nationally popular media outlet behind you doesn’t mean you are some type of journalistic icon.
To me, a journalist is everything those old, stuffy journalism 101 professors told you NOT TO BE.
I’m NOT neutral. I’m a progressive who believes rich people should not run our country and money should not be hoarded by them. My BIAS is for justice, truth, and equality (economic and social).
I didn’t get into journalism to simply tell you what one side says vs. the other. Find a stenographer for that.
I got into journalism to CREATE CHANGE.
And if this site does anything, my hope is it gives other talented, hungry journalists the platform to do so.
This will be a total community effort. If you believe in our purpose and the stories that are being told, please DONATE what you can!
With my full-time reporting job keeping me very busy, I’ll have dedicated folks running the website, editing, vetting stories, doing social media, etc.
Also, call me old-fashioned, but I believe in paying folks. Won’t be much (unless you surprise me and donate millions!), but I’d like to contribute to the journalists contributing here.
In the end, this country has a very long way to go and it’s not going to get turned around by faux progressives tossing out platitudes. It’s certainly not going to be turned by corporate media giving them the endless platform to do so unchallenged. And, of course, those super duper awesome “job creators” Republicans love to fantasize about aren’t running toward us with relief.
It’s going to get turned around by you, me, and us.
Today is a bit of a soft-launch. Click on dispatches and video to see what we have so far and some of the faces who’ll be bringing stories to you.
Please join me to wage Truth Against The Machine.