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Master of a Lost Art: Interview With Newspaperman Glynn Wilson

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Glynn Wilson is editor and publisher of the Locust Fork News-Journal. Readers trying to get to the bottom of the Siegelman case, the politicization of the DoJ, the story of whistleblower Dana Jill Simpson, and other steamy tales will fare better with the Locust Fork News-Journal than with virtually any of the mainstream press. Glynn is an old-school newspaperman, in the best sense, with decades more experience than I have. So, I'm going to mostly pass him the ball, and get out of the way while he runs with it.

Welcome to OpEdNews, Glynn. Where are you based, who are your readers and how come you're so on top of these important, but much ignored, stories?

The Locust Fork News-Journal is an alternative, independent news website ranging the diverse landscape of the American South, covering politics and science, nature and media stories from New Orleans to Washington, DC. We've even filed Mojo assaults on New York a time or two.

As editor and publisher and chief investigator, news feature writer and columnist, I now reside on the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama, very near the Jefferson-Blount County line and just a few minutes from the Locust Fork River, a fork in the Black Warrior River. When it was launched four and a half years ago, the site was designed as an innovative merger between a blog and a news page. (I was not new to web publishing, having been the editor and publisher of The Southerner magazine, southerner.net, the first magazine published online back in the 1990s.)

Just as other news websites with more of a "reality-based" as opposed to a "faith-based" intellectual view of the world, our readers tend to be more educated on average and computer savvy, as well as more liberal, progressive and also independently-minded than your average conservative talk radio listener or Fox News viewer. We do have a fair amount of libertarians and independents that also use the site, however, and judging by the number of sustained attacks from the right-wing attack machine, we have a lot of conservative readers, too.

While we have a large base in Alabama, we also have fans in New York, Washington, DC, New Orleans and other southern states, as well as the Great Northwest. As you probably find with OpEdNews, many people in California and Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington tend to use us. There are many ex-patriot Southerners out there on the other coast. We also get a fair amount of international traffic, I guess mostly from search engine hits as well as locals abroad.

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Why I was on the Siegelman story and the Jill Simpson story and have a better handle on the politicization of the DoJ - and have the largest archive on it - is a long story. But let's see if I can boil it down for your readers.

I have been a reporter and writer for about 30 years, an academic for nine of those, and covered a lot of Siegelman's campaigns for office in Alabama all the way back to the 1980s. For context, I wrote the definitive story on his inauguration in 1999, when he was heralded as Alabama's first "New South" governor. The New South Rises, Again: Alabama Gets Its First 'New South' Governor

During Siegelman's term as governor, I was not in my home state of Alabama, since I had moved first to Georgia, and then to Tennessee, and eventually New Orleans chasing an academic career teaching journalism, as well as free-lancing. I wrote for The Dallas Morning News, the Christian Science Monitor and then The New York Times out of New Orleans.

During the 2004 election, I broke a big piece of the Bush AWOL story and moved to DC for awhile, but then in 2005, I found myself back in Birmingham with a family situation - when the New York Times called and wanted me to help them cover the first trial of HealthSouth's Richard Scrushy, Siegelman's co-defendant in their second trial.

It was during that trial, and after I completed the free-lance work for The Times on the case, that I decided to start LocustFork.Net.

I continued to cover the Alabama branch of the Bush Justice Department's political prosecution hit squad on my site. Then on June 1, 2007, the New York Times and Time both carried pieces based on leaks about Ms. Simpson's affidavit, which provided the first real concrete evidence (at least, that got legs) to back up Siegelman's claims that his case was political from the outset.

When I saw the stories that day, I knew I would have to jump on it, since I had actually known Jill Simpson as a source on another story back in the late 1980s. I called her up immediately and ended up making the trip that weekend to Rainsville.

The result of that eight-hour, in-person interview, plus some follow up investigative reporting, was a five part series that ran on June 20 under the Part 1 headline: Jill Simpson's Affidavit May Help Justice Prevail in the Siegelman, Scrushy Case

A few days later, Scott Horton and I hooked up online and he started blogging about it at Harper's. He introduced me to Joe Conason at The Nation Institute, and we worked up a grant and a story idea that resulted in a five-month investigation and this piece in The Nation in October under the headline: A Whistleblower's Tale


Of course, I continued to cover new developments in the story, including the sentencing in June in Montgomery all the way through the "60 Minutes" piece in February, 2008. Our post on that set a record for comments at that time in Alabama, when the CBS affiliate in North Alabama lost the feed at show time and had to re-run the segment again later. It came to be called, "The Great North Alabama Blackout of 2008," but my post that day ran under the headline: Siegelman Prosecution Questions Answered on '60 Minutes'

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)
 

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