The recently departed Gang of Four, which was actually a gang of 8 or 9 of us in rotation at any given time, were very touched by the generally positive comments that made the rounds when it was announced we were coming to the end of our run on CFRU. I was also quite happy to hear that Guelph Speaks lone coyote Gerry Barker had chimed in on our demise. From his perspective, we are a casualty of the recent municipal election results. (Did you actually listen to the show, sir?)
No matter. We have thick skins. You have to in this business. Seconds after we were told the show was ending, Guelph Politico Adam A. Donaldson and I decided on the spot that somebody had to carry on the great work of Beyond The Ballot Box in some form. There are plenty of bloggers, tweeters and all sorts of personalities both real and imaginary who chirp about politics on line. It was clear that what the Gang did was fairly unique and it would be a loss to just fade away in the static. It will be missed as much as we will miss being a part of it.
In the media world, Adam and I produce what is commonly known as Open Source or Community Journalism. Adam is a dedicated, seasoned journalist and at one time was the editor in chief of The Ontarion newspaper. His long running Guelph Politico blog is the go to place to find out what is actually happening in this town. But if you aren’t aligned with one of the big media players, anything one might do is considered an “open source” in the broader scheme.
The time is coming (and may have already arrived) when the open source will be your primary supplier for news and information. The era of a massive centralized news bureau dispatching reporters far and wide is pretty much over. They were the norm and seemingly had limitless resources – if you heard it on the BBC or read it in the New York Times it was 99% guaranteed to be accurate, factual and timely.
We will strive to be the local version of that long solid tradition. You pretty much have to take our word for it though and we hope you will hold us to account, call bullshit, question everything and pull anything we have to say apart. That’s what we do daily and would also expect any engaged person to do regardless of stripe. Feedback is most welcome.
I’ve been an open source for a while. Not to a Donaldson degree but I’ve been around. Here’s a bit of a bio for the record.
When I was in grade 8 I had a letter published in the Mississauga News about how I wanted the great world powers to sit down and have a chat so we would avoid a nuclear war. Plenty of people saw it and commented on it. That was the precise point when the media bug bit me hard.
I had a two zines in high school, “The Page” and “Dig”. Back then we called them underground newspapers. The admin tried desperately to find out who had put them together, as a couple of issues were highly critical of certain goings on at the school and used “foul language”. It was strictly typewriters and photocopying back then. I was in the last typing class before it became “keyboarding”. I’m rather ancient in the scheme of things.
My first proper freelance work was for Cognition – the Canadian Organic Growers Magazine. Although it existed pre internet, somebody took the time to preserve an article or two:
Although it’s not really my focus, I’ve had some photos published over the years in various places such as the late great Eye Magazine and Canadian Crop Producer. When I joined CFRU in 2003, I was given the labour news file, which eventually evolved into one of the first podcasts of it’s kind in the world on rabble.ca . Podcasting of this type was so new, I was asked to speak about it at a conference at McMaster. Archives of show are still lolling about on-line. This interview with Billy Bragg is a personal favourite:
A magazine called Our Times did an article on what I was doing then, cached here:
As most of you know, Hertz isn’t actually my real name but it’s the one that stuck. You can call me whatever the hell you like.
Around the same time I did a theatre review by request, possibly my only paid gig ever:
A while later, I was drafted to a rebooted election reporting team at CFRU which was part of Royal City Rag, eventually evolving into the weekly Gang of Four. I have Jan Hall to thank for coaxing me back into the game and getting me re-energized about the world of politics. Jan can still be found at CFRU on Saturday mornings, hosting the fantastic Folk Roots Radio:
Currently when I’m not on CFRU or taking care of other workaday duties, I occasionally write for rankandfile.ca
And I’ve blogged in several places but The Spannerbook is the latest incarnation. Thanks for reading.
I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether I’m a credible open source or not. I hope my previous endeavours are a reflection of the type of reporting I am hoping to contribute to the new project. If I’m delivering news, I assure you it will be accurate, factual and as timely as possible. If I’m spouting opinion as we did so often on the Gang, Ill preface it as such. I feel it’s important to differentiate between news and opinion at all times.
I am not the agent of, nor am I a card carrying member of (or in the employ of) any political organization or entity. I see it as my job to hold them all to account and for that I feel one needs to be strictly non partisan.
All possible internet polls, quizzes and tests that I’ve taken for fun tell me that I am very much on the left of the spectrum. So I’m still the pinko you have come to know over the years but I guarantee I will never lie to you or disregard your opinion, whatever it may be.
I hope I’ve passed the audition.
Join us for our launch on January 8th, 2015 at 5pm on CFRU 93.3FM or online at www.cfru.ca