There was a point in time when journalism was considered a public service. The objective of this service centered on keeping the general population informed by providing them unbiased, accurate information. It’s taken about 20 years, but what we consider news today is the antithesis of what it originally set out to be. Today, news networks are just a steady stream of opinionated points of view that vary based on the parent network’s political views.
I don’t know what sparked the turn of events that led journalists to shift their fact-finding endeavors into a personal projection of their socioeconomic standing, but here we are, and I know more about Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity’s self-righteous beliefs than I ever cared to know. See how that last statement really gave you a sense of whose opinions I don’t agree with? While I may not be a journalist per se, the trend of either subconsciously or consciously shoving one’s beliefs onto their intended audience has bled into most facets of news reporting.
The goal was different, though, when the three-man crew comprising the team of All Gas No Brakes set out on their anthropological road-based study in 2019. The shoulder pad-loving leader of this trio is journalist Andrew Callaghan; and he shares editing duties with Nic Mosher, the main cameraman and audio savant; and Evan Gilbert-Katz, the team’s production manager. What started out as adventures in hitchhiking quickly morphed into an episodic overview of American culture, documented and distributed via YouTube.
Callaghan first started hitchhiking after his freshman year of college with the goal of gaining insight into the outer fringes of society. Equipped with a backpack of his belongings, including his trusty recorder, he spent the summer visiting a string of motels and bus stations, interviewing fellow “road” people. He compiled accounts of his excursions into a book titled “All Gas No Brakes.” Months into his solo journey of traversing the nation on borrowed rides, Mosher joined him.
The duo decided to spend some time near their alma mater, Loyola University in Louisiana. Interviewing drunks and tourists in New Orleans quickly grew old, but knowing they were in the midst of creating something special, Callaghan reached out to Doing Things Media. His proposal? A promise to make a show based on the cultural exploration of America, so long as they purchased him an RV, and surprisingly, they did.
After convincing Gilbert-Katz to join up with them, the trio set out, making the drug-friendly music festival Burning Man their first stop. Callaghan admits that this high-stakes first assignment for All Gas No Brakes was intended as “meme/LMAO” content, as the interviews are littered with bait questions and edited to include comical crash zooms as the segues.
Following that first piece, Callaghan altered his interview approach and adopted a non-intrusive manner that allowed for a more free-flowing style of interview. Aside from his suit’s trademark oversized, yet still too short, pant legs, Callaghan provides a gimmick-free platform for the vast members of society to voice their opinions.
Callaghan insists that all he does for All Gas No Brakes is literally just hold a microphone, but I disagree. He has the uncanny foresight to pick the perfect individuals to interview, and when he does pose a question, he always asks the right ones. Callaghan’s ability to blend, be accepted, and hold a conversation with almost anyone allows him to gain a perspective that most would not.
Reporting on everything from the “Border Security Expo” to just “A Night in Las Vegas,” Callaghan has managed to report on a little bit of everything, yet he states it wasn’t until the protests in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death that he felt he could switch the focus of his dry, satirically-enriched reporting of the comically bizarre to more serious subject matters and still retain their audience.
“When over a million people follow you, that’s every kind of person. You have, like, Boogaloo boys and Proud Boys and, like, anarchists following you at the same time and all laughing at your s—,” Callaghan said of his fans’ demographics in a recent interview with Vice. He later went on to say that, “I don’t think anyone is, like, going to box me in at this point.”
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Doing Things Media attempted to do. Following the reports on the Minneapolis protests, Reid Hailey, a co-founder and the CEO of the company, put pressure on All Gas No Brakes to produce more party content. This was advice that Callaghan did not heed, and Callaghan briefly continued reporting on more current and more serious events like anti-lockdown protests, Proud Boys rallies, the Portland protests, the conditions of the pandemic and the end of the upcoming election. This eventually led to the firing of Callaghan, Mosher and Gilbert-Katz
You can rest assured because an overactive, genius-in-the-making mind like Callaghan’s can’t be stopped. Now under the alias of Channel 5, he continues to report on the subjects he is passionate about. Having learned from his initial naïveté from when he was new to the industry, Callaghan ensures all the rights of his new projects are held by him and his crew.
Continuing in a very All Gas No Brakes fashion, Channel 5’s topics include everything from the “Pickup Artist Bootcamp” to a “Q Conference.” This turn in events just goes to show that while the backing of a media company can definitely help your success in the journalism field, especially when you’re first starting out, it doesn’t mean your success relies on it.