From the UN to Wall Street, Danny Schechter and I worked together to make/reflect complex issues in multi-media format. Danny has been defined as an “investigative journalist” but he employed print to film to audio to get across a message, frequently with a point of view that challenged conventional thinking and presentation. Danny passed away yesterday after a lengthy and by his wish quiet battle with cancer.
Danny Schechter appeared to be a throwback to a previous age of activist-journalism. He certainly was a believer that better was possible even as he did battle with the powers of convention, conformism, and the establishment – some may have seen him as a modern day, New York City-bred Don Quixote; but his pen, microphone and camera gave him more impact than most traditional journalists could muster. His media swashbuckling was developed over several past decades, but I see him as having helped define the future of the “Diplomat-Artist,” a melding of talents, professionalism and the evolution of the mindset of the global citizen.
Danny and I first met during the war and genocide in Bosnia & Herzegovina. His credentials spoke for his entree into the world of diplomacy and the UN, including work with ABC and CNN. His more “leftist” leaning views did not make it easy to reconcile with calls for intervention. However, he was both open-minded and adjusted to a new world where the separation of borders was less important than what all global citizens shared or at least sought, the inalienable rights.
A few years later as the global economy, labor and retirement savers were dragged into the “Great Recession” Danny interviewed me on the excesses of Wall Street. In these discussions I helped define the term “predatory capitalism” – Danny saw it from the perspective of one who did not trust the bankers while I understood it as capitalism eating itself from within and damaging the trust between labor, capital and those critical to intermediating economic growth and job development.
Danny’s latest work was titled “America’s Surveillance State,” the critical challenge from the perspective of someone who understood both as citizen and journalist the threat to our freedoms. While an “investigative journalist”, Danny did not see his work as the “gotcha-ya” that dominates the landscape between reality-TV and populist entertainment news. Threats, conflicts and fears are pervasive elements of our environment; but it is the work of the journalist, at least the way that Danny saw his life, to clear the haze and focus our gaze. Even as Danny is missed, he will continue to shape the future of journalism, the role of the global citizen and the work of the Diplomat-Artist.
To see/hear/read some of Danny Schechter’s work and also learn more about the person you can start with Wikipedia “Danny Schechter“.
By, Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey,
Friend and Colleague of Danny Schecter