Saturday, July 26, 2008

DIY Journalism

I’ve been tossing around the idea on writing a post about my experiences in what I like to refer to as DIY Journalism and this editorial in the Moore American finally got my butt to chair and hand and a half to keyboard.

I first thought of doing a zine during my short stink at Oklahoma State University. I had the summer before completed my Associates in Broadcast Journalism at OCCC and for various reasons (none of which turned out to be good) headed to Stillwater to continue my education. This would have been somewhere around fall 1996 (if memory serves). Well I ended up hating my time at OSU and I wanted to put something out that was basically a thumb in the nose to the OSU social establishment. The name that I was going to use was Hepcat but it never came to fruition and within two months I was living back at home with my folks.

Fast forward about six months to a year. I was working at a local karaoke shop and was pretty dissatisfied with the majority of punk zines that were around and decided to do something about it. Shortly there after Caught Off Guard was born. Dubbing my zine the “un-punk, punk zine” I wanted to do something that’s heart was very much in the punk scene but also had an open mind and varied tastes. I worked on the zine for nearly two years (even though it was only in physical production for one…you see I was using the copier at the karaoke shop and when I lost that job I lost the ability to continue to print) and during that time I met a lot of really cool people, helped open and run a DIY punk venue, and got the chance to interview some scene legends (including one of my personal heroes, for lack of a better term, Ian MacKaye). I tried to come up with ways to get the money together to put out further issues, but it never happened and as 1998 turned into 1999 I started on my long call center career and by 2000 I was a father, so my days of producing a print zine were behind me.

I still had the writing bug though and decided to try my hand at producing a webzine. This was a task that proved much harder than putting together a paper based zine (and to this day I cannot speak a lick of HTML). Eventually I got The Masses at Midnight online. TMAM was my attempt to mix music and science fiction but it turned out to be short lived. I produced two issues before giving up to focus on writing for OklahomaPunkScene.com.

I am very proud of my time with OKPS. For five years I have written for the webzine and tried my best to spread the word. But like all good things, it too must come to an end. The final issue is online now and I will miss writing for OKPS very much.

During my tenure at OKPS I wrote one column called Punk Rock Pop for a hardcore zine out east and eventually got the idea to do this blog. Initially I was pretty anti-blogs. I thought that they were just a bunch of fools spouting off at the mouth (or keyboard) without doing much research. I’ve since changed my opinion. Granted there are blogs that are worthless but then there are others that are well researched, thought out, and fun to read. I started Oklahoma Lefty (and even got the idea for the name) from my friend Ryan who wrote the Oklahoma Hippy blog (and was my coworker). That was back in 2005. Now three years later I am still blogging away.

M. Scott Carter raises some excellent points in his editorial that I completely agree with. The problem with blogs is that there is a ton of just fabrications and misinformation that gets passed off as the truth. Even though blogs are opinions pieces we, as bloggers, should do our best to research and back up our opinions with facts or at least references and not just pass along other misinformation (even though I might be a bit guilty of that with my gas post a while back…sorry about that). Granted we’re all human and are going to make mistakes and the last thing we need is for the internet to be regulated. We need a free press ad to me that free press includes the DIY outlets like blogs and zines. So bloggers keep blogging, but make sure to check your facts (myself included) before going too far off the deep end.

Freedom of the press forever!

1 comment:

Rena said...

I enjoyed reading about your zine life (lives?). But then, I used to enjoy reading Factsheet Five, even tho I was significantly older than most of those who were publishing them. I appreciate the appropriate use of freedom, I guess, especially by the (comparatively) young.

I consider blogs to be part of the same movement of counterculture expression (your caveats are correct, but apply -- urgently -- to the mainstream press in this country as well).

In the 60s there were tons of indy newspapers created by hippies, yippies and other young folk. Zines grew out of that history. Hell, it really goes back to the pamphleteers and beyond (thanks to Mr. Gutenberg).