Damn You Harry Shearer!

It's funny how inspiration works.

I am on a flight from Denver to Los Angeles and I HAVE to bust out my HUGE laptop. Before I was even allowed to turn on this very hot pink Dell, I was scribbling notes in the margins of a book.

As many of you know I contribute to the Huffington Post and MOMOcrats. Arianna Huffington was gracious enough to send all of us MOMo's a copy of her new book "Right Is Wrong. How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, And Made Us All Less Safe (And What You Need To Know To End the Madness)". While my mind is racing reading this fantastic book, it was not Arianna that had me fumbling for pen and paper in Seat 19F.

There is an ongoing joke in my house that fellow Huffington Post contributor Harry Shearer is out to get me. Of course Shearer has no idea who I am and is most likely not out to get me, but it just so happens that nearly every time I post over at HuffPo, Shearer posts just a short while after me, knocking me off the front page.

Thus I tend to mutter around the house saying things like "Damn That Harry Shearer!" and my husband laughs and says, "well you know he's got it in for you..."

We are silly like that.

Here I am barreling through Arianna's new book and I am muttering "Damn That Harry Shearer!" at 39,000 feet.

Page 54, second paragraph:

"But as Harry Shearer has pointed out in multiple posts on the Huffington Post, the media had given up on the search for accountability."


...the media had given up on the search for accountability
.

Angels sang, light bulbs glowed, bells, whistles, red flags, and even those little cartoon-dizzy-birds-that-fly-drunkenly-around-your-bonked-head tweeted.

I have never heard a truer statement in my life. And of course I had missed Shearer's many references to this point because I was too busy cursing him for bumping me off the front page.

That one line by the guy who does the voice for Ned Flanders sums up my entire experience going from main-stream-media reporter to citizen journalist.

That's it.

Right there.

One. Line.

...the media had given up on the search for accountability.

Ever determined to be "fair" and give "sides" as a main-stream reporter, I did NOTHING but offer you useless PR spin. I did NOTHING but make sure time and time again you heard from each party involved and you were given the tools to make up your own mind. On the surface that seems justifiable and makes total sense.

However, I always had suspicions about those "parties" I was quoting. Rarely was I able to dig any further, as the news cycle was short, the attention span of listeners shorter, and I had an average of 30 seconds to tell you everything you needed to know.

That is not journalism, that is marketing packaged as fast-food news and information.

On the few occasions I approached news directors and asked them for the time or leeway to dig a bit further, I found myself in that real journalism world where you are looking and striving to hold someone or something accountable. To find out what really happened, and make it public.

Sadly, I only had a few occasions in my entire main-stream-media career where I was let loose. Where I really and truly DID my job. Where government leaders were held accountable as I stood at an unlocked, hole-ridden gate supposedly keeping the bad guys out of LA's largest water supply. Where city leaders vowed money and resources as I camped out next to cargo ship after cargo ship, main bridge supports, and highly flammable and toxic tankers just waiting and waiting and waiting for someone, anyone, to stop me- all while the national guard trucks rolled above, and around me and even right past me at one of the nation's busiest ports. Where law enforcement policy and culture was challenged as I submitted my official account detailing the bruise left on my back by an LAPD baton as I screamed "PRESS! PRESS!" and attempted in vain to hold up my media badge during protests outside the Democratic National Convention in 2000.

That is journalism. I am sickened that in my 10-year long, main-stream-media career I can count on ONE hand the number of times I practiced my trade.

So why the discussion NOW, you say?

Because I'm in the middle of a media revolution and I am seeing signs of life. A media revolution with mothers, fathers, people with day jobs, union workers, ceo's, advocates, teachers, whistle-blowers, and people just like you.

I just left Denver, where in a few weeks tens of thousands of media outlets and entities will converge to attempt to tell you a story, give you information, and some will attempt to sway your beliefs.

As I plan my trip back to Denver in August, for work in my "new-media" role as Political Director for BlogHer.com, I am pondering how to plan coverage for the Democratic National Convention that:

a) serves my community

b) informs my community

c) searches for accountability

I just added "c" back into my playbook, with an "*" to remind me of its importance.

I look forward to seeing my fellow MOMocrats in the Mile High City. I look forward to watching the blogosphere cover an event with a take the main-stream media will not broadcast.

I look forward to the search for accountability, the less covered information, and getting back to doing what makes a difference -be it for the nation, the world, or the largest online network of women bloggers.

I am sure I will also be muttering "Damn You Harry Shearer"...just a little.

Erin Kotecki Vest's own site Queen of Spain blog would be more like a Lisa than a Marge, with a dash of Selma and pinch of Mrs. Krabappel. Ok maybe a little Otto too. Over there she is well aware of Mr. Shearer's amazing resume, not just his voice-over talent.