Tuesday, 21 July 2009

New I.F. Stone Biography: An Example of What Might Be Done with Citizen Journalism?

Last week I asked where the new I.F. Stones were, fully realizing that a generation has no idea whom I was talking about. The meticulously researched stories in his newsletter The I.F. Stone Weekly were a balm during the long days of the Vietnam War and brilliant evidence of what a reporter can uncover if he (or she) looks carefully. Somewhere in the basement is a complete set from about 1964 to the end of its existence: I will have to dig them out some day soon.

Then this weekend I came across news of what appears to be an most interesting biography: American Radical: The Life and Times of I. F. Stone by D. D. Guttenplan. Not only does the book tell his story—his early days in journalism, his black-listing, his deafness which led him to spend hours poring over transcripts which helped him discover facts hiding in plain sight—it contains some rare wisdom.

A Jew who grew up knowing discrimination, he none the less appreciated the complexities of Israel and Palestine. As early as 1946, a review in The New York Times notes, he wrote “exultantly”: “In Palestine a Jew can be a Jew.” But, the review adds, “he also noticed the Arabs: “Palestine is their home. They love their country. Any equitable and lasting solution of the Palestine problem must take these Arabs and their feelings into account.” “The essence of tragedy,” he wrote in The New York Review of Books after the 1967 war, “is a struggle of right against right. . . . In a tragic struggle, the victors become the guilty and must make amends to the defeated.”

In this new age of easy access to an Internet podium, I’d like to think that there are citizen journalists/bloggers/electronic observers who are examining what is happening in the world as carefully as Stone did, and giving us the benefit of their reflections.

No comments: