A Defining Moment for The Real News

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Paul Jay stresses the importance of the Real News coverage of the protests against the murder of Freddie Gray and the police and National Guard violation of people’s constitutional rights

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Story Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Hi everybody, Paul Jay at The Real News Network.

If there was ever a moment that showed why we need The Real News Network, it was during the Baltimore uprising. Mainstream news first reported on the murder of Freddie Gray, and it was the video of Freddie Gray that became the iconic image–that is, until the iconic image became the burning down of a CVS pharmacy. One young people who have been corralled and cornered toward Pennsylvania and North–and I mean that, corralled and cornered, because the high school that opened up right outside the mall where the original confrontation with police took place, that high school emptied and the students had no buses and no subway, metro, to get on, because they’d all been closed down. Then with hundreds of students milling around, the police started forcing them down towards the Pennsylvania-North corner.

Yes, stone throwing began. Yes, one pharmacy burned down. But how does that compare to the murder of Freddie Gray? Well, for the mainstream media it all became about thugs and criminals and vandals and rioting. That all of a sudden became far more important than homicide.

Well, not on The Real News. On The Real News we focused on the murder of Freddie Gray. We also contextualized what happened. Why young people had been cornered at Pennsylvania North. We also talked about the need for people to protest and resist the conditions they live in, and we didn’t just pay some lip service to the fact that there’s poverty or chronic poverty in Baltimore, which occasionally you can hear as an underlying cause on places like CNN. We talked about why there’s poverty. We talked about how profit is made through poverty. For example, through keeping wages low. Someone can work at Johns Hopkins cleaning surgical rooms for $13 an hour. Or the incarceration industry, which makes millions of dollars for people that build, maintain and service prisons. Bail bondsmen and the judiciary, and of course the police force. We talked about real estate speculation wanting to keep areas unlivable so that they can be gentrified.

When you talk about systemic racism, when you talk about chronic poverty, it’s about real stuff, not just some general labels. And on The Real News we talked about this. We didn’t fall for the mainstream narrative. Quite the contrary. We created a narrative that was not just made up fiction, but based on facts and based on what was really going on was in the interested of ordinary people. And that’s why we need The Real News Network, especially in times of crisis. Especially in moments like these. We need a network that doesn’t bow to pressure, we need a network that’s independent from government, from corporations, from advertising, so we can simply go where the facts lead.

And if you want The Real News, well, we have a fundraising campaign on. And I know you’re getting pitched from all kinds of places. But let me say this clearly: if we’re going to achieve what we’ve set out to do in Baltimore, we can’t do it without you contributing. In this campaign, and in other campaigns when we ask for support. Our basic funding does not cover the cost of the expansion in Baltimore. In fact, it doesn’t cover the costs that we maintained covering the Baltimore uprising. Live from the streets and from our studio panels of some of the leading figures in Baltimore debating and discussing constitutional rights, and the whole issue of community control of police, and the underlying issues and conditions that faced the people of Gilmor Homes, the place where Freddie grew up. Many months before Freddie was killed.

I don’t think you’ll find anything comparable with the breadth and depth of the coverage we’ve been producing during the Baltimore uprising, and before it and since. We’ve been dealing with the issue of who owns stuff and who has power. Where will effective solutions really come from. Because at The Real News we think the most important news we do is about effective solutions and how people can get organized for change.

Our objective in Baltimore is to win the local news market. To break through, to amass audience. Imagine if The Real News was watched by tens of thousands of people in Baltimore at a moment like the Baltimore uprising. It would be a game-changer.

Well, that game-changer, if it takes place in Baltimore, can also take place in other cities. This is a model of what’s possible. But it’s not possible without you. Our fundraising campaign is on. For every dollar you donate, we get another dollar up to $100,000. If we don’t meet our target we can’t expand our Baltimore work.

So please, with your support, help us make Real News.