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I.f. Stone's Radical Journalism

wrotea reviewNew York TimesRampartsWall Street Journal
When I was a writer for the radical Ramparts magazine in the 1960s, Izzy Stone was one of my heroes. His one-man publishing operation, I.F. Stone's Weekly, was a bridge from the 1930s Old Left to the New Left of the '60s. After the Compass, a left-wing daily, had folded under him in 1953, Stone launched the muckraking four-page newsletter with a $5,000 stake from relatives and the Nation magazine's mailing list.

At the height of McCarthyism, this was a most improbable media venture. And yet Stone turned the weekly into a financial success and became famous as a crusading journalist, not least during the turbulent years of the Vietnam War. It was like the plot from a movie about the underdog making good--the "Rocky" of journalism. In a way, Stone was a precursor to today's political bloggers. He wrote and laid out the paper in the basement of his Washington, D.C., house--sometimes, yes, while wearing pajamas. He posted excerpts from the official documents he unearthed. And he wrote editorials debunking the capital's political consensus. His Internet was the U.S. Postal Service, with its generous second-class bulk-mailing privileges.

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