I started this website because I saw a need for more citizen journalism. I have lost faith in the main stream media outlets to remain honest. A free press must be truly free of influence from government and corporate influence. We don't have that in today's mainstream media, and if we look back at the writings of Thomas Jefferson it seems maybe we never have.
Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day. – Thomas Jefferson
It seems evident to me that many of the primary news outlets of today are attempting to create a narrative that does not align with reality. Whether it's a question of simply turning profit or something less virtuous matters very little to me. So when I see these outlets actually reporting that there is backlash it helps me understand I am not alone. Looking at how Jefferson felt though it seems like a high mountain to climb.
Reading over the Axios article I am left with mixed feelings. The article focuses more on people who have worked previously in the mainstream who have left to go their own way. That could be a good thing, but I am more interested in NEW personalities entering the market which I think we are also seeing. This is actually something that's been happening over decades as technology has allowed, but it seems like it's becoming a lot more apparent to the mainstream media outlets. All the way back in 2012, The Guardian published an article titled "The rise of citizen journalism" which discusses the increase in video and photography shot by citizens close to news worthy events with the increase in technology availability. The main point they focused on was the untrustworthy nature of crowd sourced information, but the undertones are there. They have to protect their own industry so it seems natural for them to question the credibility.
The mainstream media outlets have truly hurt their assumed integrity over the past few years. From trying to create a narrative that Russia had successfully inserted their own dictator on American shores to ignoring substantial evidence of criminality with the Biden family in the months leading up to the 2020 election, they have spent all of their political capital. I have always been skeptical of the media on both sides of the political spectrum. There really makes no difference whether you watch CNN or Fox News. ABC, NBC, and CBS are going to give you the same message with varying degrees of flair. A big part of the problem is simple, clear, and out in the open. Nearly all of the mainstream sources of information are owned by a very small cartel of very large and powerful companies. These companies don't just own TV stations. They also own news papers, digital publications, and even the actual infrastructure we use to relay information. AT&T and Comcast both own large swaths of the digital information sphere along with Disney, News Corporation, and National Amusements (Viacom).
The problem isn't just as the national level. Clear Channel is a media organization that owns a vast majority of "local" radio stations, billboards, and other marketing venues. Even our local non-affiliated news papers appear to be using a centralized service called TownNews.com which purports to equip "local media organizations with the digital services and guidance to transform their business models and flourish in the digital age". They have a customer base of more than 2,000 media organizations. I don't know exactly what they are providing, but we can only imagine it may lead to a more top down approach to reporting the news.
YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon now do what the old media tycoons have done to other forms of media. The internet has been lost behind the backdrop of a few very large organizations, and those organizations control public discourse on their platforms. It seems even the Federal Government now considers these venues an appropriate place to publish official messages to the people of this country. Of course we've seen cases where various Official government accounts have been censored, or public figures have been removed from the platform for wrong think. We've also seen a backlash where entire nations have decided to block access to these platforms.
Another element that I think merits discussion is how much the government now influences what is written and how it's presented. This is again not something that happened overnight, but today it's so brazen and out in the open. In 2014, LA Times let ago one of their reporters because he 'routinely submitted drafts to the CIA for review' as reported by The Intercept. With him being outed as having worked with the government to publish propaganda intended to make the CIA look good you would think other news outlets would stay away from him like the plague. Unfortunately we all actually got to see him participate in the public discourse on live television last year since he was picked right up and has actually worked at several other outfits since the exposure of his lack of journalistic integrity. Here he is talking about Russian propaganda and an "October surprise" in September of last year on MSNBC.
While the current landscape seems bleak with government, big money, and big tech largely in control of the story of the current age, I think there is some room for hope. The people are seeing through the shenanigans, and tools are being created that provide regular people the means to have their voices heard easier. On top of that we're finding ways to create larger online communities by democratizing the platforms and federating content between similar services instead of relying on a single service provider to choose what information can be shared in a space. We're finding our way back to the original design goals for the internet and finding ways to build more resilient community driven platforms without the need for support from bankers and elitists who think the only things worth building are the ones where the profit can be calculated and counted on beforehand.
When Donald Trump was suspended from Twitter for telling people to go home on Jan 6, I decided it was time to just go ahead and unplug from the matrix. I started to experiment a lot more with what is known as the "fediverse". This is a generic term for software that is using an opensource publishing protocol to share information with a network of other services run by disparate server admins. There are software tools that emulate a lot of the same functionalities we're all familiar with on the common social media platforms like YouTube or Twitter. The thing that really makes these services appealing is that anyone is able to run them with commodity hardware. This makes it possible to provide people with a platform for sharing information that can't be influenced by outside parties (or corporate policy) in the same way a centralized platform can. Each administrator is responsible for deciding what privacy and moderation policies to put into place, and users can freely move their accounts to servers that align more with their desired policies. No one organization is ultimately in charge of who can participate in the marketplace of ideas.
Podcasts are seeing a revolution too. I know they have been around for a long time, but Adam Curry is at it again, and has come up with Podcasting 2.0 which will make it easier for people to enter the podcast arena without having to submit their work to Apple for approval. It will also help listeners contribute to content creators through the lightening cryptocurrency network using an opensource tool set. This will help creators to generate content without a need for corporate sponsorship using what is being called a Value for Value model. This is the same model we're using here, although we're not yet on the lightening network. The basic premise is that we will provide our content for free, and like a subway musician, if you find our work has benefited you, we just ask that you contribute whatever you feel is appropriate. This model means content consumers will see less advertising because the content isn't being generated for the purpose of serving ads. Ultimately I think we will see more honest reporting of actual news worthy information rather than click bait and regurgitated corporatism. It's possible that some incorrect reporting will take place, but that's already something we have to deal with when it comes to the mainstream. The difference will be that creators are responsible to the consumers of their work instead of the advertising agencies who are less concerned with relaying accurate information to the audience.