It is no secret that, before becoming a staff writer for the Indy, I was somewhat of an activist. For the record, I have not been involved in any kind of extracurricular rabble rousing or political trouble making for a few years now. It’s been an interesting experience, going from insider to outsider.
Journalists are like the Night’s Watch in Game of Thrones. We’re separate and removed from the affairs of the realm, but still connected and serving a vital function. When you “take the black,” so to speak, you commit yourself to a specific code of professionalism and ethics that is often at odds with the values and ethos of the insular world of activist politics.
That’s why most people just go to journalism school out of high school and learn all these things before haphazardly entangling themselves in various jobs, scenes and cliques before starting their career in journalism in their late 30s.
When I do things, I do them the hard way. From gender to career, my life has been all trial-and-error. When the journalism window opened for me, the activist doors were slammed shut. I certainly burned some bridges. Antipathy towards the news media is a bipartisan affair.
For every right-winger talking about “fake news,” there is an anarchist quoting “In Defense of Smashing Cameras”. However, I made the conscious decision to become a journalist because I think it is important work.
Case in point is the ongoing drama that’s been swirling around Denver Public Schools Board of Education member Tay Anderson, who was anonymously accused of sexual assault by a woman whose allegations were published by Black Lives Matter 5280, an organization Anderson had worked with previously.
Anderson had been involved in a number of protests and actions covering everything from Denver’s homeless sweeps to protests against Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He was certainly known to Denver-area activists, and news of the accusations had a profound impact on folks in activist circles. Reactions ran the gamut from “Anderson is cancelled” to “Anyone expressing doubt about the allegations is a rape apologist and should be cancelled.”
It wasn’t just left-leaning folks who seized on the allegations. The right-leaning crowd, which has long targeted Anderson and Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca as being the most radical elements of Denver’s political landscape, had a field day with the Anderson allegations.
Luckily, the folks at Yellow Scene looked into the allegations. In the course of their investigation, they found that BLM 5280’s anonymous accuser had actually recanted her initial claims, and that Mary Katherine Brooks-Fleming of Wall of Moms (remember when every liberal white woman was a part of that?), who testified in front of the Colorado House that there were 62 victims of “a sexual predator targeting DPS children,” simply made up a lot of details. Yellow Scene’s reporting also built on Westword’s coverage of “super troll” Joey Camp, who was named as a potential instigator in the Anderson drama.
Yellow Scene’s long-read article is not the vindication that the “believe survivors no matter what” crowd wanted, nor is it the exposé that the “radical leftists are all secret pedophiles” crowd wanted. It is simply the truth, as uncovered by journalists.
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