excerpted from an article
by Peter Phillips - Project Censored
The U.S. media has lost its diversity and its ability to present
different points of view. Instead there is a homogeneity of news
and a regurgitation of the same news stories on every channel
and headline. Our corporate media outlets in the country spent
hundreds of hours and yards of newsprint to cover Bill Clinton's
sexual escapades and ignored many important news stories in the
process. This amounts to structural censorship of the news.
Mainstream media tends to disregard news stories that affect the
working people of our country, the 75% of us who are blue and
white collar workers surviving paycheck to paycheck. Corporate
media ignores the relevant questions for working people about
why the value of our labor has on average declined for 25 years,
why health care costs are so high, why housing is unaffordable,
why we can't afford to send our kids to public colleges, and why
our taxes keep increasing while corporate profits are at all time
Working people in the United States are disillusioned with politics
and tired of the entertainment junk being pushed as news by the
national media. When over half the people don't vote, it is not
because they don't care, but more about not knowing the issues
or recognizing differences in candidates. Our media is not covering
the issues that affect the lives of the majority of Americans.
The solution to a mainstream media that is out of touch with the
needs and wishes of the American people may be alternative / independent
Although alternative / independent media sources in the U.S. are
still small and underfinanced, they offer a hope for the future.
They can be a key element in a social movement that empowers working
people in the U.S. to take control of their government-corporate
power structures for their own betterment. "Free the Media"
can become a real rallying cry that will allow the emergence of
what the new democratized AFL-CIO calls "Common Sense Economics,"
an economics that unmasks corporate wealth exploitation for the
betterment of working people.
We have to begin to reach the 200 million working people and work
our way up from there. Microradio is a good start, but is under
attack by the Federal Communications Commission. We are close,
however, to local community activists being able to download or
use as sources news stories from the Internet and have enough
good solid news material to fill a weekly progressive local newspaper.
Small teams of peace center activists, environmentalists, civil
rights workers, political activists, school teachers, labor organizers,
college students, and working people can, and I believe will,
start the publication of thousands of newsprint publications for
distribution in the cities, towns, and neighborhoods of our society.
Some will sell advertising, some will work from their convictions.
As Media and Democracy activists, we have to help them find each
other, share materials, and literally make it easy for them to
put out high quality interconnected news publications locally
Unfortunately, some of our best liberal-leaning national weekly
/ monthly news magazines tend to see themselves as in competition
for a small group of left-wing intellectuals and rarely follow-up
and reinforce news stories that are printed in each other publications.
While I think we can encourage students and working people to
read The Nation, Mother Jones, Z magazine, The Progressive, Covert
Action Quarterly, In These Times, Toward Freedom, Dollars and
Sense, iF magazine and many other important high quality news
sources, this will only be a small part of creating a new democratic
news and information system in the U.S. What if national progressive
news publications released their best articles after publication
for free re-publication in alternative news locals? Given that
local micro-press editors will seek to include stories that are
interesting to and important for their constituency, it would
seem that this would encourage a broader section of working people
to consider opting for The Nation instead of Time magazine.
We can mobilize the necessary resources to build and expand a
Media and Democracy Movement, by sharing news stories and reinforcing
and expanding national alternative press publications through
selective re-publication at the local level. Additionally, we
could easily facilitate Web sites that would allow thousands of
writers, scholars, and activists to post their work and make it
available for local progressive newspapers to download and publish.
A populist army of diversified news and information gatherers
and publishers is ready to emerge. Not all in agreement, not lockstep
within a ideological framework, but working people finding access
to their own voices.
Back in the late 1970s, the nation's beer supply was dominated
by a half-dozen companies. In the early 1980s in Chico, California,
two young entrepreneurs started a shoestring micro-brewery called
Sierra Nevada Brewing. They, along with other micro-breweries
in the U.S., transformed the quality and diversity of beer consumption
in the United States. Now, brew-pubs abound, and even the major
breweries now have their own micro-beer look-a-likes.
If it can be done with beer, we can transform the news and information
systems in the United States with micro-presses, desktop publishing,
microradio and alternative Internet connections, and modify the
diversity and quality of the media forever. We don't need to capture
more than 3 to 5 percent of the local market share of news consumers
before the media will take notice and begin to reform itself.
That is when we will need to be ready with suggestions and legislation
that will make their willingness to accept change a permanent
Millions of people are turning away from mainstream media news,
questioning the dogma of a corporate owned press, and trusting
more in alternative news and information from sources like the
Alternet, Project Censored, Noam Chomsky, Mike Davis, and Howard
Zinn. Gary Webb's popularity in the country rose as The New York
Times, and Los Angeles Times tried to dismiss the CIA-Crack-Contra
connections. The Internet and alternative sources, heard by millions,
mobilized the necessary political pressure that resulted in the
CIA's admission to their knowledge of Contra drug dealings during
As media and democracy activists, we still need to work on making
it easy for small-circulation editors to download news stories
without having to obtain copyright permissions from hundreds of
different sources. For progressive activists, all that is needed
is an Internet-connected computer and you can being accessing
important alternative news sources. You don't need to write and
produce a full 16-page weekly newspaper on your first try. Build
up to it. Find local sponsors and network with community groups
anxious to have their stories told in the local press. Fill your
pages with quality news stories and op-ed pieces from alternative
sources all over the world.