Posted by Jill Boniske aka Arty Chick on November 3, 2016
This is without doubt the perfect film for this particular time in America! The question this documentary poses is what the hell is wrong with our current media and why don’t we have journalists doing the work that I.F. Stone did so well back in the day. I’ll admit not knowing much about I. F. Stone before seeing this one. Apparently he once said, “All governments lie,” and the duty of the press is to ferret it out and keep them honest. More than being a biopic, this one looks at Stone’s influence on modern day independent journalists. With interviews from Amy Goodman, Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi and may others, it skewers the news that most Americans depend on to keep them informed and suggests that it is just an extension of an entertainment-centric dumbing-down strategy to keep the people ignorant.
A running story through the film is an investigation by indie journalist John Carlos Frey into mass graves uncovered in Texas with more than 200 bodies. He notes that the story got absolutely no press, and no investigation, because the bodies were all Latinos. But because he is independent and has funding he is able to go into depth on the story and hold some of the people in government accountable, something mainstream media rarely does these days because the news is sound bites and newsrooms are in a hurry to get to the next big story about the Kardashians or other celebrities rather than report the news. At least that is the central thesis of this film. They dish on every mainstream outlet from Fox News to the New York Times, placing them all in the same category of journalists flouting their responsibilities. I’m not sure that is fair, though I do look to alternative news sites myself more and more these days for the stories that don’t get covered or the ones that seem to be slanted one way or another.
This is not a perfect film, and a lot of what it is saying has been said many times before, but it certainly gets you thinking about what a better media might look like. I. F. Stone had a paid membership newsletter as his model, which succeeded without advertisers and was free to give his readers the facts as he saw them. He made great use of public documents to find out what the government was up to and broke a lot of stories that way. I’d say give this one a viewing when it comes to the small screen. Be prepared to be mad at your morning newspaper and your evening news afterwards, and take down the names of several of these indie journalists’ sites. You may find more informative ways to consume your news.
(And you’ll never look at page 17 the same. See it and you’ll know what I’m talking about.)