Sometimes the only thing that gets me out of bed in the evening is knowing that the planet is more hopelessly hobbled than community journalism.
That’s especially been true these past few weeks, as the Dig crew worked with the Museum of Science team on this special Earth Day spread. While our MOS friends were schooling us on complicated problems facing everybody on the planet right down to those threatening New England in particular, we faced a relatively infinitesimal though nevertheless environmentally spurred calamity, having to once again pause our print edition after this issue due to ballooning paper and distribution (read: fuel) costs, as well as advertisers who remain stuck in a tough pandemic rut.
Feeling pinned myself, considering the intertwined infernal fates of both the Fourth Estate and the climate it has largely ignored, I turned to alternative media hero I.F. Stone, and specifically his comments made to millions on the National Mall on the first Earth Day, in April 1970. In a polemic titled “Con Games,” Stone called bullshit on the holiday, accused its celebrity boosters of being either complicit or too dumb to see that the nascent environmental movement was averting attention from war and poverty, and ripped, there is no use talking about Earth Day unless we are prepared to make these fundamental changes. Everybody’s talking about Earth Day, and it comes out of the mouths of so many hypocrites it turns your stomach. What kind of an Earth Day can we celebrate in a country that is spending so much of its money to destroy the Earth?
Everything that Stone said about the environment and Earth Day could be said for bold and independent media, his stock-in-trade, then and now. And of course current crises on these fronts are deeply connected, in trajectory and perhaps tragedy; Stone was an anomaly in his day, and though he inspired innumerable muckrakers and scrappy alternative outlets like the Dig in the decades since his self-published newsletter taught us to challenge convention and illuminate greed, graft, and gutlessness, it’s not exactly going well for those who oppose hypocrites and Earth destroyers in 2022.
It’s not all bad news. There are some positive forces left among us, and one thing I learned from our Museum of Science partners is that if people are shown paths toward potential solutions, they may actually see their personal stake in the struggle. And do something to improve the situation for us all, not just their own lot.
Journalism needs to do much better on that front, and moving forward we can only hope to engage Dig readers at such a level as we carry forth online. We’ll need your help though, because whether pertaining to your local media or biological ecosystem, it’s not enough to simply say that you support ideas and institutions you feel are doing important work.
If you don’t, you might wake up one day and find out that something you took for granted is no longer there.
CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.