The Killing Game
Selected Writings by the author of Dark Alliance
Publication Date: April 3, 2011
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Gary Webb had an inborn journalistic tendency to track down corruption and expose it. For over thirty-four years, he wrote stories about corruption from county, state, and federal levels. He had an almost magnetic effect to these kinds of stories, and it was almost as if the stories found him. It was his gift, and, ultimately, it was his downfall.
He was best known for his story Dark Alliance, written for the San Jose Mercury News in 1996. In it Webb linked the CIA to the crack-cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles during the Iran Contra scandal. His only published book, Dark Alliance is still a classic of contemporary journalism. But his life consisted of much more than this one story, and The Killing Game is a collection of his best investigative stories from his beginning at the Kentucky Post to his end at the Sacramento News & Review. It includes Webb's series at the Kentucky Post on organized crime in the coal industry, at the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Ohio State’s negligent medical board, and on the US military’s funding of first-person shooter video games. The Killing Game is a dedication to his life’s work outside of Dark Alliance, and it’s an exhibition of investigative journalism in its truest form.
GARY WEBB was an investigative reporter who focused on government and private sector corruption and who won more than thirty journalism awards. He was one of six reporters at the San Jose Mercury News to win a 1990 Pulitzer Prize for General News Reporting for a series of stories on the collapse of the Cypress Street Viaduct during northern California's 1989 earthquake. In 1996, Webb wrote a shocking series of articles for the San Jose Mercury News exposing the CIA’s link to Nicaraguan cocaine smuggled into the US by the Contras, which had fueled the widespread crack epidemic that swept through urban areas. Webb’s bold, controversial reporting was the target of a famously vicious media backlash that ended his career as a mainstream journalist. When Webb persisted with his research and compiled his findings in the book Dark Alliance, some of the same publications that had vilified Webb for his series retracted their criticism and praised him for having the courage to tell the truth about one of the worst official abuses in our nation’s history. Others, including his own former newspaper and the New York Times, continued to treat him like an outlaw for the brilliant and courageous work he’d done. Webb received the 1997 Media Hero Award from the Institute for Alternative Journalism and in 1996 was named Journalist of the Year by the Bay Area Society of Professional Journalists. Webb’s death on December 10, 2004, at the age of 49, was determined to be a suicide.