A young man's ambition and a corrupt political system collide as an idealistic journalist finds himself in an escalating struggle between power, sabotage, and vindication.
||10 publishers interested
Jack Ranger is an idealistic 20-something burning to make his mark on the world. When an enigmatic mentor pulls Jack into the world of investigative journalism, he wastes no time exposing the murderously corrupt political system that he encounters. But the system is not so easily tamed, and Jack finds himself struggling to navigate an ever-escalating path of power, betrayal, and sabotage. As his purpose bleeds from righteous to vindication, Jack risks everything to escape the future that society has planned for him.
<Spoiler Alert: Proceed With Caution>
If life needs to be grabbed by the balls, then Jack Ranger will slap on a latex glove, reach out his hand, and tell the world to turn its head and cough. Jack is an idealistic twenty-something who is born with a passion to leave his mark on the world.
As a freshly minted college graduate, Jack is pulled into the field of investigative journalism, where an enigmatic mentor leads him into a murderously crooked political system. Jack finds systemic corruption involving the governor of Massachusetts funneling dirty money from narcotics into campaign financing. But in his pursuit to expose the Governor, Jack is targeted, sabotaged, and fired from his job. Cast aside and without a voice, Jack finds himself living the plight of his generation. He is unemployed, indebted, and broke from working on a borrowed promise for a broken future.
But Jack refuses to accept society’s fate and so creates a company to bend the rules of life in his favor. In a small bachelor pad on the outskirts of Boston, Jack Ranger builds this generation’s most disruptive media company, and the only witnesses are empty pizza boxes. The company is Flint Media, a crowd-sourced investigative journalism firm. With Jack as CEO, the company ascends to prominence in a whirlwind of high profile venture capital backers and media fanfare.
Back in control of his destiny, Jack seeks vindication, using Flint Media to publicly expose the Governor. However, after unexpected problems with raising the next round of venture money, Flint Media begins to flirt with financial collapse. A power struggle ensues as Jack faces a choice between personal vindication and his company. Just as Jack is ready to compromise and shut down the investigations into the Governor, he discovers unexpected relationships between his past and his present. The revelations show that Jack has been manipulated as a pawn in a longstanding feud between his mentors, advisers, and lover.
Infuriated that his life was only an illusion of autonomy, Jack risks everything as he doubles down on his path of vindication. However, before his efforts can come to fruition, he is ousted from Flint Media. Once again Jack is stripped of his voice, and he has little choice but to return to his childhood home in middle-town America. Here, amidst his old friends and their moderate expectations, Jack vows to build again because he will not be denied his future.
Jack & Coke appeals to two audiences: (1) discontent millennials and (2) those who are concerned about "truth" in the media.
(1) Unfortunately the following equation is not as true as we were all once lead to believe: "Hard work + Time = Success"
44 million Americans are saddled with student loans and the average student graduated in 2016 with over $37,000 in debt. Combine this debt with an ever-stratifying future (job automation, rising rent, expanding income inequality), and it becomes impossible to reconcile your dreams and ambitions with your future. These are the struggles of Jack Ranger, and they parallel our generation's fear that that the world we were promised is slipping out from under us.
(2) Journalism is in jeopardy, and everyone knows it. Jack's entrepreneurial venture of Flint Media brings crowdfunding to journalism and breathes new life into the troubled industry. The timing of this book's release is coincidental, but important. We are living in a time where "fake news" threatens to undermine our perception of the truth. The same audience that finds appeal in "House of Cards," "The Newsroom," and "Spotlight" will be drawn to the role that the free press plays in a healthy society.
I am writer and technologist with an unrelenting entrepreneurial bent. As it happens, I am also currently pursuing my MBA.
I've had the privilege of becoming a trusted industry advisor in emerging realms of high-tech with over 100 pieces of published work and speaking engagements available in the public domain. I have even hosted two of the top-ranked technology podcasts on iTunes.
As someone who has lived through the rise and (sudden) fall of my own media company, I am passionate about the intersection of technology, the future, and the human condition.
I have built an audience that I am excited to leverage and grow with Jack & Coke. Personally I have more than 2,500 Twitter followers and over 1,300 LinkedIn connections.
In my previous work I went from a nobody to a top industry analyst in Big Data and other emerging technologies. I will bring the same hustle that helped me publish hundreds of articles, host numerous speaking engagements, and build the #1 "Emerging Tech" and #3 "Big Data" podcast on iTunes to my work as an author.
The legendary editor-in-chief, Pat Flaherty, had requested Jack’s presence.
The door to his office was already open. The editor sat leaning back in his chair. He was expecting the arrival.
The editor stood, asked his assistant to leave, and then closed the office door. There was an absent minded motion for Jack to take a seat.
Jack sat in the empty chair that was too obviously meant for him. He looked on at the editor. He was a man in his fifties who wore his hair slicked back and talked with a measured confidence. He wore suspenders over his expensive French-cuffed shirt, and Jack guessed that he was a man who had an affinity for fine cigars.
“There are only a few ways that this can end.”
“What could end?”
The editor was pacing alongside the broad window on the far side of the office. They were on the 15th floor, which offered a sweeping view of the city. The room was well-lit and modern. Yet the space was filled with artifacts of a better time - built on the fortunes of a decade ago.
It was the office of a company that wasn’t ready to announce that it was shell of its former self.
“The choice is yours of how you want to do it.” The editor motioned to the door. “But I’m going to need your resignation before you leave my office.”
The editor was silent for a moment. He looked at his employee and noted the emotions on his face.
Jack froze. How many other people had sat in this exact chair in this exact office receiving the exact same fate? Why? That’s what Jack needed to know. Why would I be fired? But as Jack sat there absorbing the words that would surely change his life, he already knew the reason.
It was plain to see. The timing was precise. Jack stood from his seat and spoke in a loud, searching, tone. “This can’t be about…"
The editor countered with only a calm expression. The answer was “yes.” Yes, that is exactly what it was about.
“What the Hell is wrong with you? This is the biggest story we’ve done in years. You can’t fire me over this.”
“You’re right Jack. That’s exactly why I need your resignation.”
Silence followed. They both stared. And they both knew how things were going to be. “You can’t keep this down.”
“Sure, Jack, tell whoever you want. I’d love to get this story out to the world.” The editor motioned like he was rubbing money together, “but you’d be surprised how many people can suddenly go deaf.”
But Jack did not move. He wouldn’t quit, he couldn’t quit. He responsed. “I can’t… I won’t”
Pat Flaherty had convinced men of stronger conviction to his way of thinking.
“Won’t you Jack?”
“I know what you’re thinking. But there is no safety in publishing this story. The Tribune will not be your shield.” The editor looked at Jack from top to bottom. He lingered on his neck, which had the start of bruises rising above the collar in Jack’s shirt. He shook his head.
“It’s a shame what they’ve already done to you.”
Jack’s next thoughts didn’t leave his mind. He devoted too much time to this story. There was too much behind this story. Too many people needed to know what was going on. He had suffered for the truth. This was his story.
Or was it Anton’s?
The editor found it interesting how internal conflict could be seen so easily through someone’s eyes. He knew where to press. “You’ve been wrapped up in something that isn’t your own creation. It’s not your fault that you’re here. I respect your commitment, but it won’t end.”
The editor held up his right hand and sequentially moved his fingers into a fist and then opened it again. “It won’t stop when you publish. There is no glory in this. The people that you think you are saving will forget. They always forget. The people that you’re scared of… and I can see that you’re scared… well, they won’t forget. They never do.”
The whiplash of yesterday’s car crash came back in a sheet of white. The unseen whisper in his ear played again and again.
Pat Flaherty opened both hands, palm upwards. “Unless there is a reason for them to forget”
Jack knew the arrangement; he knew what it must be.
“I’m offering you a way out, Jack”
His resignation was a peace treaty.
The reporter’s head bowed. He chewed on his lip. The silence of the room was broken as the editor slid a paper document across his desk. After a pause he took a pen and placed it upon the document. No words were said.
Jack took the pen. He clutched the instrument of his fate in his freshly scarred hand. His skin was still red and raw. It hurt to close his hands. But just now, gripping this pen, there was no pain – almost as if the metallic ink-filled cylinder was absorbing the hurt. Jack could feel the transfer of pain from his hand to the ink.
He signed his name.
Jack dropped the pen, its duty done, onto the floor. He shook his head and grabbed his hair.
Pat Flaherty watched and nodded. He approved.
“This can’t be over.”
The editor laughed. It was a loud constant laugh. “This can’t be over? Don’t be naive Jack. It’s been over for twenty years.” Jack turned and walked to the door. The editor was now raising his voice. “Don’t take it personally. How do you think we’re still in this building? We do what we have to. This is an old man’s game.”
With each step to the door his voice grew louder. Jack opened the door.
Jack turned and paused for the briefest of curious moments.
“You’re better off getting out while you still can.”
In the elevator staring at the doors. Waiting for the floor. Jostling the salad in one hand. Holding his stomach in the other.
Late lunches make a hungry man.
Feet tapping, why won’t the elevator move faster?
Finally the fourth floor.
Doors receding and muted noise. Light emanating from the glass entryway, shielding the office from the elevator lobby. Giant, bold, orange letters staggered along the wall staring down every visitor.
“Flint Media” – the letters scream with the audacity of their purpose. Those are a nice touch.
Left hand on the door, pushing through the lobby and into the office. Noise. Conversations, ideas, dreams filling the air and finding their way into the consciousness of the room.
Nod to Janice. Half-hearted salute to Taz.
Time to say hello to the troops in the bullpen. Every step brings noise. Laughs, chirps, whispers. More steps, more noise. Bullpen is cleared – unusual - it’s past prime lunch time.
Scanning the room. Long tables and no cubicles – Jack wouldn’t have it any other way. Ok, it’s not empty – just redistributed. Everyone is congregating at one computer, whose station is that? Doesn’t matter, it’s still weird.
More noises. Walking up to join the crowd. Hand on Tim’s left shoulder, trying to look over the group of people.
“What’s going on?”
No response, just concentration.
Another try. “Hey Tim.” He was turning. Excitement and distraction.
A group breath. It was a collection of people behaving as a single living thing - acting and reacting as one. Then a voice, from the group, echoing the thoughts of the group.
“Oh, shit. It’s happening.”
- - -
That might have been the most successful lunch break Jack could ever remember. The plan was far from perfect, but step one was going as well as it could. They had published the first pieces of the story and the world was finding out.
“TechCrunch, LA Times, Boston Globe.” Matt rattled off names. “They’ve all written big pieces on us.”
“Will we crash?”
“No, we’re good. We can handle it.”
The two of them sat in front of Jack’s computer. Matt pointed to a chart on the screen. “Here’s when the spike starts. This thing is huge. I mean fucking huge. We’ve never seen anything like this.”
The story was fire. The world was loving it. The Flint Media reports were out in the wild. Testimonials, police records, and Anton’s own summaries with supporting evidence were all made public. It was the beginning of the story that Jack never thought would be published. Flint Media was experiencing traffic overload; thousands of people were proposing and bidding on follow-up stories. The comment’s and emails screamed for more; inboxes were overflowing.
The entire Flint Media team was alive with excitement. The hive was swelling and bursting with enthusiasm. This was real, they could feel the passion.
Jack looked at Matt, “This is the tipping point. Can you feel it? This is our moonshot.”
It had been three hours since this story caught its stride and it was breaking every record they’d ever had. Damn he felt good. How big could this get?
Jack’s phone began to ring. It was a number that he didn’t recognize but he picked it up anyways.
“Yes, who is this?”
“It’s Alexandra Cole. Are you free tomorrow afternoon?”