In Praise of Personal Journalism

Throwing off the shackles of the conventional press

I was active on the college lecture circuit during those years—largely because of my Voice columns. And on campuses from Alabama to Wyoming, I found students and faculty members who had discovered the Voice and had joined "the community of consciousness."

The dissonances inside the paper continued, including whether or not to organize a union. Aware that the AFL-CIO had supported the Vietnam War, many of the staff wanted no part of a union. Then Rupert Murdoch bought the paper. His well-known hostility to unions immediately led to a long line of Voice workers from all departments going down to then District 65 (now a part of the United Auto Workers union) to sign up.

Not long ago, I saw Rupert Murdoch at a book party for Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox News at its New York studios. I reminded Murdoch that I'd once worked for him. He groaned and said, without missing a beat, "Oh, the Voice, the bane of my existence!"

A gathering of Voice writers in 1967: From left: Howard Smith, Deborah Jowitt, Michael Zwerin, Joe Flaherty, John Perreault, Dan List, Margot Hentoff, Michael Harrington, Nat Hentoff, Carmen Moore, Ross Wetzsteon, Jonas Mekas
photo: Fred W. McDarrah
A gathering of Voice writers in 1967: From left: Howard Smith, Deborah Jowitt, Michael Zwerin, Joe Flaherty, John Perreault, Dan List, Margot Hentoff, Michael Harrington, Nat Hentoff, Carmen Moore, Ross Wetzsteon, Jonas Mekas

During his regime here, the Voice was, to my knowledge, the only one of his properties that openly and directly criticized him from time to time. At one point, he was so furious at one of our columnists, Alexander Cockburn, that he called the then editor in chief, David Schneiderman, and ordered him to fire Cockburn. Schneiderman did not. Murdoch called him again and threatened, "If you don't fire him, I'll sell the Voice to someone worse than I am!" Schneiderman took the chance.

That was, and is, the spirit of the Voice. And that's why I've stayed here all these years.

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