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Challenges to Independent and Alternative Journalism on the Left


The three stories below, each related in some way to the state of journalism on the Left independent and alternative side, are just three of many. Staying informed in an accurate, thoughtful sort of way requires persistent efforts. At least this is my experience. What’s happening with independent / alternative news reporting and analysis on the Left is related to the struggles of “progressive” or “liberal” advocacy. Among other things, when those efforts aren’t widely or consistently covered, for a lot of people, it’s as if they weren’t happening.

The first story focuses on one specific piece of the challenge to independent and alternative reporting and analysis, and to the progressive / liberal movements and actions which are frequently ignored or given only brief and/or sporadic attention.
From Mark Taylor-Canfield, writing at TruthOut: (emphasis added)

US Alternative Media Journalists Face Government Surveillance

… (R)ecent events now reveal that some non-violent activists and journalists have been the subject of surveillance by the US government, military and corporate intelligence agencies. As a prime example, I present the case of Shannon McLeish, a broadcaster and activist from the state of Florida.

Last year McLeish participated in Occupy Wall Street protests and rallies. She also co-hosts a radio program broadcast from Daytona Beach called ‘Air Occupy’. As a result of a Freedom of Information Act request, McLeish discovered that she’s been included on a government terrorist watch list.

McLeish’s interviews include one with Noam Chomsky, and while coverage of Occupy Wall Street and offshoots are common,

… most of the programming is simply an investigation of various social and economic justice issues. Topics on their show have included the Keystone XL Pipeline, fracking, home foreclosures, and the National Defense Authorization Act.

According to Liz Myers, co-host of the Air Occupy program, Youtube unexpectedly deleted the show’s channel last year after the producers did a program highlighting the civil rights implications of the NDAA.

There are lots of more details to read, and some interesting context. One conclusion:

Alternative media journalists will now have to face a double challenge. While attempting to work under almost impossible economic conditions due to the current corporate monopoly on the US media market, we will also be required to immunize ourselves from the stifling results of our overzealous security state.

A second piece, also at Truth Out, by Peter B. Collins: (emphasis added)

An Insider’s View of the Progressive Talk Radio Devolution

As an independent progressive and 40-year radio veteran, I’m sorry to report that heroic efforts over the past ten years to build a national radio presence for progressives and Democrats seem to have reached a critical turning point. With the recent loss of key AM outlets in Portland, Seattle and Detroit, the progressive talk format no longer enjoys national coverage, which in turn threatens the financial viability of the syndicated programs … .

In my view, we have reached a major crisis due to right-wing bias in talk radio. This right-wing tilt has an obvious impact on our politics and culture. But President Obama, his FCC appointees and most members of Congress – including all but a handful of Democrats – are indifferent. Sadly, it seems that most listeners are indifferent, too. …

The corporate money and government connection is impossible to avoid. And, as Collins points out, there’s the role of “listeners,” and I’d add, of readers, in considering these challenges.

Third story, and last word to Lambert at Corrente: (emphasis added)

Another blog down

So now, Violet and The Agonist are gone, and Atrios says his funding model doesn’t work anymore.

I feel like I’m an arborist watching the progress of Dutch Elm Disease.

(Independent Thought graphic via Wipe Out Homphobia on FB)

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7 Responses to Challenges to Independent and Alternative Journalism on the Left

  1. Taylor Marsh February 11, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    I cannot begin to tell you how difficult it is to exist as an independent new media site. The large blogs are gobbling up the advertising, with sites like TM extremely difficult to fund and keep in the black.

    I’ve been online writing longer than anyone, starting in 1996, and know the trends that are now overtaking the web.

    It moves me to thank monthly subscribers, especially, and all those other people who donate once or twice a year.

    It won’t be long before we’ll all have to go to a pay model exclusively.

    • Joyce Arnold February 11, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

      Of course I’m thinking about you, and TM, as I follow all of this, along with the others in the same sort of situation. Having been the editor of and writer for an LGBT independent weekly print newspaper, I also know the huge challenges from that angle . Then there’s Queer Talk Radio, which I created, booked, hosted, etc. for about 12 years, ceased when yet another college radio station was gobbled up by, in this case, the much larger local public radio station.

      Corporate nation, corporate government …that’s the big context.

      • Taylor Marsh February 11, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

        Oh, I know you know this, because you deal first hand with the challenge I have of being able to pay you (beyond small tokens) for your much appreciated work. …as for radio, believe me, I know how that goes, too!

        It’s also that pay models are shifting, which is going to open a huge pit where a lot of new media sites will fall into. The industry that I saw the very birth of is coming of economic age.

        • Joyce Arnold February 11, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

          The “coming of age” thing is filled with angst, unknowns, and some scary stuff … :)

    • Cujo359 February 11, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

      I see this partly as another example of how we’re all becoming WalMart – bigger, more concentrated, less diverse, and just poorer generally.

      • Joyce Arnold February 11, 2013 at 5:51 pm #


      • jinbaltimore February 12, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

        Yep. And how will the pay-only subscription sites be any different than any other industry that, through their fee schedules, limits access to the poor?

        Will one be able to exchange food stamps for information? Or will it be like everything else capitalism gets its grubby hands on? Different levels of “quality” depending on how much one is able to pay? e.g. Pay-for-express lanes on the highway or cable TV?

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong