I've worked in journalism for 35 years. I did graduate study in journalism, I've worked as a daily newspaper reporter and I've freelanced magazine articles and newspaper op-eds. Now I blog.
I've learned that certain ideas are not permitted in the mainstream press. Well-paid gatekeepers might say these ideas are misguided, wrong or irresponsible, but that's not really the reason. It's because certain ideas are not in alignment with the middle-brow assumptions our mainstream press operates within. It also has to do with a commercial inclination for celebrity journalism and a fetish for scorekeeping over analysis.
Here's a personal example. For three weeks, since the Times Square bombing attempt, I've been in a back-and-forth exchange with the op-ed editor of a major city newspaper over a 900-word piece focused on the motivations of would-be bomber Faisal Shahzad.
Over the years I've had numerous op-eds in this newspaper, most of them critical of the current wars and all leaning to the political left.
Based on remarks the editor emailed to me, I re-wrote the piece twice. Now I'm getting silence. It seems I have hit the wall of verboten ideas; I think he's ashamed to tell me "no" outright.
Here's the paragraphs that contain what I submit is an unacceptable idea for mainstream US minds:
There is no indication Shahzad calculated becoming a citizen to pull off a terrorist act. His decision to kill seems to have come later, a combination of his life coming apart and anger at US drone attacks in northwest Pakistan where he was raised.
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