Saturday, June 24, 2006

MWC News

MWC News must grow and diversify. I don't mean MWC exclusively. I mean all independent progressive media.

The notion of a free press is not just a nice compliment to free and democratic societies. It is fundamental. It is necessary.

Independent media provides a measure of balance to the weight of commercial mainstream media. But that balance weighs heavily in favour of a single special interest. That special interest is private capital. Therein lies the rub. That special interest necessarily have the wherewithal to publish their views in their interests for their ends. They are organized, they have an agenda, and they have money; an endless supply of it.

And they are actively working against the rest of us.

Mainstream media is attractive and slick. They know how to appeal to the ordinary news junky and the ordinary news consumer and they do it well. They spin stories with simplistic and appealing angles and story lines. They make salient issues that promote their own interests and completely shun perspectives that show them for what they are.

Perhaps the most significant obstacle to independent media is funding. Independent media are competing against those with mega money and power. This practical problem has to be addressed. Funding is not a problem for the mainstream; integrity, dedication, and quality are problems for them. They provide quality bells and whistles, but their analysis and content are garbage. We have our strengths and weaknesses and they have theirs.

The good news is that we are becoming more and more relevant. That is, the quality of independent media is growing and word is getting out.


Exploiting commercial revenue may not be the ridiculous notion it appears to be at first glance. Going commercial, that is, using adverizing revenue, may be an appealing option. We live within a context of capitalism and fixating ourselves within idealistic constraints is akin to picking a fight with a bully and tying one arm behind our collective back. But in practical terms, it is no answer. Advertizers would necessarily hold power over editorial policy. Even if this was not done explicitly, it would be done covertly. Editors, if faced with a story or information that may shine an uncomfortable light on the funders, would downplay, spin, or scrap the information. They could be used however. Money addicts are whores of a sort and if it makes money for them, they will use any and all ideological bents. It wouldn't be an issue for most advertizers. If it is widely read or watched, and popular, they will get in on it. The very large dark side of this is that we would lose at least a measure of independence, and we would be climbing into bed, however superficially, with a demon.

In Britain the BBC is funded through the television license that all television viewers in Britain must pay. This provides BBC with the singular luxury of providing relatively unbiased and quality news programming. The BBC is linked however to the British State and is governed through legislation. In that way, it is similar to the CBC in Canada which shrinks through time as the Canadian State is increasingly dominated by the political right. Still, the BBC is a refreshing change from American, Canadian, or British bubble-gum news sources. The farther we get from the centre of American power, the more diverse the opinions are in media; or so it seems. Asian, mainland European media or African media may put out stories that are highly critical of capitalism, of states, and provide intelligent analysis.

A problem with concentrating alternative media is that it would be subject to ideological or private interests. It would be a coveted jewel and jewel thieves would be salivating at gaining control of it. This problem could be controlled through functional and structural planning.

There is something amazingly democratic and potent about the freedom that exists now with technology being what it is. We are collectively doing a wonderful job of presenting news, analysis, and a myriad of opinions through MWC, Democracy Now, Counterpunch, and many, many more.

Democracy Now

Democracy Now is a multi dimensional news outlet with written media as well as radio and television. It does not accept corporate or government funding and is funded by its users and through foundations. Democracy Now is the idea. We should build upon and diversify this grand idea. Not to compete with or muscle in on its territory but to provide more diversity. Democracy Now is well named and what it does is patently democratic. Further to this, it promotes and heightens the quality of democracy in America and worldwide. It has had guests such as Hugo Chavez, Noam Chomsky, Bill Clinton, Bill Moyers, Howard Zinn, John Perkins and continually provides us with compelling and stimulating articles and programs. Democracy Now is based in America and has a tendency toward an American left wing perspective. It has quality and it has its limitations.

This will take much effort from talented and resourced individuals and organizations to build MWC into a complementary multi media news outlet but that is what I'm proposing. The key here is solidarity and we need to bring together people with common and not specific goals. Individuals with specific goals may prove to be a hindrance to efficiency and news content.

MWC News has nowhere to go but up. There is a huge vacuum in the wake of glib and superficial mainstream media. A media that cannot satisfy those that want real answers and intelligent analysis.

In some ways I have (unintentionally) tested MWC News with articles and opinions that could be quite controversial. They were not cut. Editoral discussions on changes have been open and frank as well as educational (thank you Shahram). This is an incredibly free and high quality outlet with much potential.

This outlet has a very good basis for building on, and hopefully in cooperation with other sources such as Democracy Now we will continue to build MWC as well as a substantial network of progressive media.

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