Can I introduce you to one of my favorite "enemies of the people" - or journalists, as we used to be known?
His name is Justin Auciello. His turf is not inside the Beltway. It's downaShore. The only time he was at the White House, it wasn't to be berated. It was to be honored as a "Champion of Change."
If trust and credibility are ever to be restored to American journalism, that renewal won't begin inside the Beltway, with its toxic reflexes.
No, it will sprout from the grassroots. It will happen thanks to local journalists who are passionate about community. People like Justin Auciello.
Auciello is 36, a denizen of South Seaside Heights, an urban planner by training.
And the workaholic founder of Jersey Shore Hurricane News.
Don't be misled by the name. The roaring winds and soggy devastation of Irene and Sandy did spawn this popular Facebook page five-plus years ago. But JSHN is much more than a weather report.
It's an aerobic, accurate, up-to-the-second source for Shore news.
Let Auciello tell the story of how a cheerful urban planner became, almost overnight, a new-media sensation:
"I'd been thinking a lot about doing some kind of blog about urban planning. But I'd tell myself: 'Who the heck would read that?' When Irene started coming up the coast in 2011, a light bulb went off in my head. Didn't know how it would work, but I said: 'I'm going to do it. I'm going to report on this storm, to connect the communities getting hit by it.' "
Auciello chose Facebook as his platform, because there "I could engender that virtual community."
"So I started reporting on the storm from what I saw near my home, just for friends and family. Then Facebook's viral nature kicked in. I woke up the next day, and 500 people had liked my page. I'm like: This is nuts. I'm getting nervous. It's a big responsibility. What if I put something wrong up there, inadvertently?"
Auciello grew up in a home where his demanding lawyer dad read three newspapers a day. The values of old-guard journalism - verify, verify, verify - seeped into the son. When Irene hit, those values guided the novice reporter.
JSHN got next to nothing wrong, and a whole lot right. By the time Irene petered out, the Facebook likes totaled 27,000.
Auciello kept the page going.
"That next Thanksgiving evening, into way too much turkey and wine, I sat down and thought, 'I wonder if people could use a real-time traffic report?' Then I thought, 'No, that's radio's turf.' "
Instincts right, doubts wrong. Reporting on jams and detours became a JSHN staple. The next year, as the site earned acclaim, Auciello did more crime reporting. But his old-school decision not to report the names of juveniles charged in a notorious murder in Gloucester County earned him hate mail, death threats. He was shaken.
"I said: 'I'm not doing this anymore. It's taking too much of a toll.' "
A couple of days later, Sandy began its approach.
His first instinct was to hunker down at his home. How better to report the storm? His parents and girlfriend pleaded with him to leave. Their appeal to safety didn't move him, but then one of his parents hit the right chord: How could he keep JSHN going if he had no power?
Auciello retreated to his parents' Somerset County home - and became a legend. His crowd-sourced reports scooped legacy outlets again and again as Sandy battered the Shore.
"The days were a blur."
At one point, with 911 in Ocean County overwhelmed, he cooked up a plan with state emergency officials: They'd use JSHN's many reports of people stranded or in trouble to guide the dispatching of personnel. It was a milestone in the saga of social media.
JSHN stuck with the Sandy story through the long, halting recovery. Rumor control, Auciello says, became a big part of his mission, along with brokering humanitarian connections.
This digital hero of the storm soon was the toast of the journalism conference circuit.
"I didn't take well to the attention, at first. I almost didn't go to the White House. My thought was: Give the attention to the people who are in the muck, not the guy who's just reporting on the muck."
But, in truth, Auciello was living the story, too; he didn't get back into his house for months. As a loyal son of the Shore, his work had authenticity.
Today, JSHN combines a potent Facebook page (248,000 likes) and a website (200,000 monthly visits). Auciello now makes nearly enough on JSHN to justify the insane hours he puts in, but not enough to give up work as a planner.
"I don't know what I'll be doing in five years," Auciello says. "But the journalism for me was never about the money. It was about serving community. About collaboration. I get joy out of problem-solving."
Enemy of the people? If the American people had a couple thousand more "enemies" like Justin Auciello, we'd be a lot closer to that shining city on a hill.