Journalism has been eroded pretty badly over the past couple decades. Journalistic efforts and ethics in most cases have been replaced by “media.” An toxic beast of a charismatic nature. You can blame the 24 hour news cycles, tabloid journalism, reality media, etc., but this once honored and principled covenant between real news reporting (Journalism) and the public has all but disappeared over the last half century, faster than the Louisiana bayou. What does survive is a handful of Journalists – with a capitol J – their respect for their craft and for the events they cover keeping them afloat.
When I came to the Gulf my goal was to remain as neutral as possible – I wasn’t coming to bury an axe in the back of BP – I wanted to be as Journalistic as possible. In fact, the longer I work these coastal waters the less interested I am in BP and the more driven I am in telling a story that might… maybe… possibly… awake a few Americans to the enormous national treasure we are destroying – the Gulf Coast. Few nations on earth can boast such a gift of natural, cultural and economic richness. And few nations have been so arrogant as to destroy such a treasure. The likes of BP, and to a greater extent the entire oil and gas industry, are just a part of that destructive nightmare. Only a part.
Working in the Gulf it has become increasingly difficult to remain neutral when faced with soaring levels of dishonesty, lying, protective self-interest at all cost, and collusive actions designed and executed to play to the media, in turn deceiving both Journalists and the public. While the pressure by law enforcement personnel and BP bouncers has fallen more precipitously than the volume of oil found on beaches, and the flight restrictions are, well, gone, sky’s the limit, there remains this uneasy pressure on Journalists to quit digging, to resume life as normal, and quit focusing on what could be, what might happen, and certainly what did happen.
The story here is much bigger than BP, it needs Journalists. It spans a century of oil and gas, twice that of shady politics, and the conditioning of human history, to a believe that what we do at the edge of the sea, regardless of how destructive, how toxic, how insane, will just wash out with the next tide.
The Gulf is a deeply critical American story, now of global importance, it needs Journalists who remain neutral, but keep pushing forward, not only until its told, but until it’s heard.
As I reminded someone, a local politician, disinterested enough in over-hearing my conversation with a local fisherman that he therefore felt compelled to insert his opinion – “all you media have an axe to grind” – neutral doesn’t mean no forward progress towards the truth.