"An informed democracy will behave in a responsible fashion," said Jefferson. And what happens to democracy when one of the major pillars of information, journalism is under attack from the highest office in the land? We live in an era where the president openly singles out journalists by name and denounces them. And when he’s at a rally he incites his followers to hiss and boo the press. “Fake news,” he tweets. The media are “a stain on America.” Apparently, any journalist that does not express admiration and adoration for the president is not doing his or her job. Only Fox can be trusted. Journalism, at least in theory, has one essential job: to dig out and communicate the facts about what powerful individuals and institutions are doing. And to hold them accountable. No one is above criticism.
2 CDs Historian Howard Zinn says, "You can't be neutral on a moving train." Indeed, in a time of crisis, you can't sit on the fence and wait for others to make the decisions for you. An engaged citizenry is the essence of democracy. The classic union song asks, "Which Side Are You On?" If we are all rendered as mere spectators and onlookers then what does that say about our democracy? It's easy to blame the media which to some extent contribute to a general feeling of helplessness and fear, thus leading to apathy and inaction. But individuals cannot escape responsibility. I visited Studs at his home and had to practically yell my questions to him. He was hard of hearing. He had his signature red socks on and he denounced Cub fans. “They’re tourists,” he told me. A memorable interview. Interview by David Barsamian.
Jeremy Scahill is an award-winning journalist and author of the bestsellers Blackwater and Dirty Wars. He has reported from war zones around the world. His work has sparked several congressional investigations. He is a founding editor of The Intercept. He was also the subject of the film Dirty Wars, which was nominated for an Academy Award.
Studs Terkel was never neutral or passive. The longtime Chicago radio host was the Pulitzer Prize-winning pioneer in oral history capturing the voices of Americans from all walks of life. In the 1930s, while acting in the theatre, he dropped his given name, Louis and adopted the name Studs, after the fictional character Studs Lonigan. He was the author of numerous books including Working, Hard Times, The Good War, and Hope Dies Last. He was the recipient of many honors including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critic’s Circle and the Presidential National Humanities Medal. He was a legend and his voice and work will endure. Studs Terkel died in Chicago on October 31, 2008. He was 96.