Vol. 12, No. 3,009 - The American Reporter - October 19, 2006

An American Reporter Milestone
Vol. 8, No. 2000
"The World's First Internet Daily Newspaper"

AR 2000 Editorial

by Joe Shea
American Reporter Editor-in-Chief
Hollywood, Calif.

Printable version of this story

Millions of words have flown from my fingertips since April 10, 1995, when the first edition of The American Reporter was published from this very seat. Owing to the miracle of the Internet, I have watched the entire world unfold before me in a cascading torrent of wars, diseases, deaths, disasters and danger; the world has turned upside down, and my hair has turned from brown to gray as I wrote and edited these streaming pages for an unseen audience seated at computers on six continents and in every country on Earth.

Books have been written about us, and books have been written by us: one, by Correspondent Constance Daley, just arrived in the mail containing her A.R. essays alone; it is 689 pages long. A Supreme Court case that helped establish freedom of speech on the Internet bears our name; one of the greatest scoops in modern journalism history, Stephen O'Reilly's story of the Irish ceasefire that ended 300 years of sectarian warfare, appeared first in our pages.

Presidents and prime ministers have risen and fallen here. Our reporting on the ouster of Megawati by Correspondent Andreas Harsono was the death knell of Indonesia's Suharto, which he chronicled in compelling detail. We told you two weeks early of the coming ouster of Nepal's prime minister in a 2000 article by Correspondent Chiranjibi Paudyal; the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhal Rabin occurred as our Correspondent there watched on television, and alerted us instantly - we had interviewed Rabin a few weeks before. Based on that story, an International Herald-Examiner contributor in Egypt who learned of Rabin's murder from an AR bulletin reported that The American Reporter was bringing "Front Page" urgency back to journalism.

To say that it has been an enormous privilege to guide this publication in these tempestuous times is a vast understatement; it has been nothing less than a numinous distinction, and no man or woman can deserve it. For each of our writers, it has never been a job, or a paycheck; fortune has not smiled on us financially, yet, but I think she is saving a big, mysterious grin. Yet alone among the handful of competitors who began around that time, we have survived in our original form, true to our original idea, untouched by advertising, owned by our writers, and free to the world. Who else can say all of that?

But it is what we are not that may be most important. We are not owned by a corporation, and no profit motive drives our pens; we are not allied with any party, and no ideology informs our every opinion; we are not arrogant, for we are poor; we are not well-known, because we are not sensationalist; we are not widely liked, because we make no friends; we are not predictable, because each of us calls our own shots; we are not for sale, because we hold only the power of our words in our possession.

I am not sure it is necessary to define The American Reporter, because it is a work in progress. Should you ask me when No. 10,000 is published, I may have a description not yet ready for print. Therein lies the nub of something. It was clear to me, as I have often said as we passed various milestones in our history, that we stood little chance of survival without a great deal of sacrifice. There was going to be a long time of testing, we said, because ours is a new medium and we are therefore subject to both suspicion and skepticism.

No one has ever felt the sting of those two vipers as I did when I published, with appropriate caveats, a 1995 message from AR Pentagon Correspondent Frank Sietzen stating that the United States was on the brink of nuclear war with China. I was roundly denounced not only by Sietzen and some of our other writers, but by virtually every other Internet activist and newspaper. It was three years later, when almost everyone had forgotten the reason for our falling out of favor, before national security advisor Anthony Lake told a West Point graduating class that we had been, indeed, in grave danger over the confrontation in the Taiwan Straits. And only this month have the details of a Chinese general's thinly-veiled nuclear threat against Los Angeles - where I happen to live - been made widely known.

Meanwhile, whether the misreported death of Bob Hope, the false interview with Timothy McVeigh, the phantom Secret Service agent who told on President Bill Clinton, the recanted tale of U.S. massacres in the Korean War or of gassing its own soldiers during Vietnam or mind-addling tales of CIA causality in the Los Angeles crack cocaine trade, it has always been the rich and powerful machers of the old print medium, striving to dominate the Net, whose errors have proved most embarrassing in ours. The truth will never catch up with the lie, but that is the way of all flesh.

So we soldier on, in the eighth long year of our existence, loving our country, hurt when it is hurt, wronged when it is wrong, believing more in its purpose than its power, and devoted to its future. We believe that the truth, and the independent spirit of true patriots, serve it best. We open our pages to writers like O'Reilly, Harsono and Paudyal so that in reading here, we can see ourselves and our global standing more clearly, and to know the other nations of the world as they know themselves.

Our testing must soon come to an end. As the pioneer of Internet journalism, The American Reporter must taker it splace among the respected voices of the media world. That shall be our objective in the years ahead, as the milestones continue to pass: to earn for our medium, and this profession, and this newspaper, a quiet, attentive place in the lives of ordinary people, much as print journalists have enjoyed for a century or more. We can only do that with great reporting, and again, I fear, great sacrifice. Forewarned, we journey on. Join us, please, so that we may illuminate and liberate the world.

Joe Shea founded The American Reporter, the first daily newspaper to originate on the Internet, with 30 otherjournalists gathered from the Society of Professional Journalists General Journalism Internet Discussion List - SPJ-L. He lives with his wife, Mireya, in a 1919 bungalow in central Hollywood.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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