The New Media
–Biodun Iginla, Independent Media Center-Global

Broadcast network news – as even Jon Katz, a corporate media producer, put it recently – “is basically a corpse that hasn’t been pronounced yet.” The moribund broadcast network news media (specifically ABC, CBS, NBC, and also the cable “news” networks CNN and Fox) are currently driven ferociously by market economy and by the relentless pressure of daily ratings. The network news divisions are expected to not only make a profit (which was most certainly not the case in the days of journalists Eric Severaid and Edward Murrow) but also compete successfully with entertainment divisions. Correspondents and reporters are encouraged to make themselves the news rather than investigate and report it. These networks are desperate: CBS has the so-called “reality” shows “Survivor” and “Big Brother.” ABC has “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” And Robert Wright, the head of NBC, who has to make a hefty profit for General Electric, asked his team late last Spring: “Where is our ‘Survivor’?” Julie Chen, the anchor of “CBS Morning News,” also doubles as the commentator for “Big Brother” – with her copy sometimes supplied by the show’s producers – further blurring the divide between news and entertainment.

Consequently, the corporate media networks have contributed enormously to lowering the level of public discourse in the U.S. about itself and about the world in general. Reacting to this, a whole generation of young journalists (also known as media-activists) with considerable talent and technical knowledge and experience are moving into web-based media. Alternative news networks and collectives, like the Direct Action Media Network (DAMN!) and the Independent Media Center (aka IMC IndyMedia) split up into web, radio, print, video, and PDF teams. These new media are dedicated to working with activist groups (like Global Action, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, Direct Action Network, and various labor unions) to effect social change and redress various injustices to cultural and ethnic minorities around the world. Read on for additional ways to expand your informational horizon.

Editors: Ami Voeltz, The Twin Cities Green Guide & Marnie O’Brien