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Danny Schechter on Mittelstaedt

Regarding an email that LA Observed published from ex-CityBeat news editor Alan Mittelstaedt, about the backstory behind a CityBeat piece on the credit crisis, the author of the piece replies:

Never mind that you didn't bother to get my side of this story. Never mind that this all-around self-justifying genius never bothered to tell me that the piece was rejected before he blared this self-righteous and self-justifying "disclosure" to you while calling my work into question without citing any specific flaws in my allegedly "deeply flawed" piece.

If this all around muckraker has muck to rake against Jay Levin, that is his right, but why use his obvious animosity to him to drag me into his muck or the ongoing soap opera at City Beat.

Yes, Jay asked me to write because my film "In Debt We Trust" (InDebtWe in a final updated form in 2007, not 2006-- was being promoted as important by KPFK. One of my concerns has been that when the film played in LA, none of the press there, mainstream or "alternative" bothered to review it or write about it. The issue was thought too obscure. Now its at the center of a global economic meltdown.

The issues I raised, considered "alarmist" by some, later led to the ongoing financial crisis. That fact that it was ignored does not make my reporting inaccurate. If anything I understated the calamity to come even as I was exposing subprime lending, a subject that most of our "all around" muckrakers ignored. Others have called me prescient but not the former news editor. He knew better!

I have since written a book "PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity" (Cosimo) that brings this story up to date. It also critiques the role of the press and attitudes such as the ones expressed to you but not to me by the AAB (All Around Bullshitter.)

As for the piece, it did have local stats on foreclosures and mounting debt from LA when I submitted it right after the Oscars. All of the data was then updated prior to publication. Levin did a first edit. I then updated it with an excellent editor at City Beat I went to the top expert on credit cards in the country.

I spent months begging to get paid.

My visit to cover students getting into hock in Rochester way back then (ha) is unfortunately not dated. It describes a problem that is still with us. It was certainly new to people who didn't see the film who unfortunately outnumber those who did.

Had super journalist Mittelstaedt (with his confusion over what's newsworthy only being what's new) had his way, the issues I raised would never have been published at all as if they are unimportant. Look around man,

I was treated like shit by he and his then editor who promised to get back to me and just strung me along, an experience that every freelancer will recognize. That's why I don't do this sort of thing often for pathetic fees. I prefer to blog on or post on Huffington Post. Your readers can decide for themselves how "flawed" my work is.

Danny Schechter

July 6, 2008 10:22 PM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor

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