I have a new hero. His name is John Daniel Garcia.
John Garcia is a reporter for the Big Bend Sentinel here in Texas. After corresponding with and reporting on an allusive artist who graffitied a strange shack in the wilderness, for some reason called “art” here in Texas, he was subpoenaed to turn over his notes under threat of jail. The authorities, who claimed they had a “felony” on their hands, could not find the identity of the culprit and wanted the phone number from John’s notes.
The story received no coverage in my area (Texas is a big place, folks) but the story was topic #1 on my journalism feeds and I began following it online.
John and his fine newspaper stood up against the badges and he did not go to jail for it.
But before I give you a brief on the details, I want all reporters and
journalists to raise a favorite beverage and toast John Garcia. Not only did he
stand up the rights of reporters, salute him for being a kickass reporter. I also
believe it must have been a troublesome period for John. So John, we salute
|One of John's cool Facebook pics|
OK, here is the brief. There are many international readers of Ninja Journalism, so you locals bear with me on some of the explanations.
Outside the East Texas town of Marfa, a county seat with a population a little over 20,000, a group of artists built an empty store-like building in 2005 on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. They called it Prada Marfa and they called it “art,” and the county embraced it (fell for it).
This year someone known only as 9271977 graffitied the heck out of the building. While authorities were scratching their heads, Garcia used his reporter brain and discovered the identity of the doer and corresponded with him for a fantastic story.
The Authorities came down on John for his notes to obtain the person's phone number, claiming they were not violating any aspect of the First Article of the U.S. Constitution. Granted, the First Amendment is a dozy to understand (read an earlier post on it here), but beyond the whole “freedom of the press” thing, Texas is one of 37 states in the U.S. that has a law protecting reporters and their information. John and his newspaper did not give in, and in time authorities discovered the deed-doer to be talented artist Joe Magnano. Joe got arrested and the heat was turned down on John and as of this post, Magnano’s day in court has yet to come. I guess he might get fined for putting bad art on worse art or something.
I now toast John Garcia with a Shiner Black Lager.
Here is a link to the story of John getting subpoenaed .
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