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The Zombie that took down Ray Nagin

February 16, 2014

The Gambit: “Interview with the zombie” by Clancy DuBos interviewing:

the guy who actually uncovered the steaming pile of dung that became the case of United States of America v. C. Ray Nagin.

His name is Jason Berry. He is a blogger.

That’s right, a blogger broke open this scandal, on a blog called American Zombie (www.theamericanzombie.com). TV and newspaper reporters have crowed about their “scoops” on this story, but the truth is no one had it before Berry. His work continues on other investigative fronts, but he took time out to chat with me about the Nagin verdict.

Read DuBos’s interview of Berry at The Gambit: Best of New Orleans

Particularly the final paragraph in which Berry forebodes the difficult future for bloggers:

In respect to blogging and investigative journalism, I don’t think it has a bright future simply because it’s not exactly a wise career decision. Karen Gadbois went on to help found a non-profit model with The Lens and I think that’s been an invaluable asset to this city. To me she is the model of success. But even in the “professional” world of journalism it takes a peculiar type of person to strike that path and you have to be willing to sacrifice everything, even your job, to truly pursue the goal. The luxury I’ve had is that no one can fire me or stop me from writing about sensitive issues that affect our city, but there is still tremendous risk involved and that weighs heavily on me daily. It’s a pretty thankless job unless you reach a level of national stature…or you’re Lee Zurik.

Another article from 2009 mentions Berry, Gadbois and Zurik providing some additional context for Berry’s pessimism: “‘American Zombie’ blogger outs himself while facing libel suit from City Hall employee“.

I am reminded of the death of GrokLaw and also of Brenda Wells who was sued for blogging her criticism of hospitals that then resulted in revealing hospital abuses.

There is a serious problem of how to continue to create and maintain a vibrant world of citizen journalism that balances both privacy and transparency. Consider zombies connection to Anonymous and to free expression.

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