By Leslie Thatcher
On Sunday May 18, Truthout's Leslie Thatcher interviewed veteran reporter, master raconteur and founder of the This Can't Be Happening web site, Dave Lindorff. Dave's remarkable background - and that of his three colleagues at the new "news collective" - informs the style, content and unmistakable attitude the new venture brings to Internet journalism.
>b? Leslie Thatcher for Truthout:
So who are you, Dave Lindorff?
Dave Lindorff, This Can't Be Happening : I grew up in rural Connecticut; my father was an engineering professor at the University of Connecticut. I came to political consciousness in 1967 when I turned 18 and received my draft card. I had done a paper on the Vietnam war, researching in "The Realist," learning about napalm victims and other horrors and had made the decision that I was not going to participate. I didn't request a student deferment the following September when I started college at Wesleyan University, but decided that when I was drafted (my lottery number was 81), I just wouldn't do it.
I participated in the big October 21 Mobilization Against the War demonstration that year and was among those who occupied the Pentagon mall and were arrested. After I spent three days in jail with veterans of the civil rights movement, I came out a confirmed radical.
By the end of my Freshman year, convinced I would do something political with my life, I decided to study an Asian language and took intensive Chinese at Colombia in a class composed largely of CIA agents and student radicals. Wesleyan didn't have an Asian language department, which meant commuting to Connecticut College during the year and attending Columbia summers to do my major.
The last semester of senior year, I needed three more credits to graduate, which a journalism course being offered by the local Middletown Press editor filled nicely. I had no thought of going into journalism, but I signed up. Midway through the course, everyone in class had to go out and report on a live story. I checked the police blotter, which showed that a truck had crashed into a railway trestle the night before, leaving a little diesel spill on the road. The story had resonance for me because one of the ways I had intermittently earned money was as a semi driver and I'd hit a trestle myself in Boston. The truck story took me to the fire department where I discovered the real news: a bomb shelter for city government buried under fifteen feet of concrete, with a blast door behind which there was a room set up with rows of desks, each with a black telephone and a name tag for a city office - mayor, police chief, tax collector, welfare, etc. Now THAT was the story. "This is so fucking crazy," I thought. "They think after The Bomb, they think there will be rich people and poor people and taxes being collected? And as I wrote about it, it struck me: This is what I want to do with my life - report on the madness."...
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