10+ Independent Online News Sources and Why America Needs More of Them
The fact that most major news outlets are controlled by a handful of massive, powerful companies, an aberration called media consolidation, is becoming of growing concern in America. It is vitally important that the citizens of this country become more skeptical of the news that is being fed to them by these huge corporate media outlets and find alternative means of learning about what is actually happening in this country and around the world. What they find might be rather shocking in its contradiction to what they are spoon fed on a daily basis.
There was a time when the nightly news was synonymous with the words objective, impartial, fair and balanced. Reporters and newscasters saw it as their duty and badge of honor to inform the public, as factually as possible, of the happenings in this country and around the world. Today, instead of journalists such as Walter Cronkite, a legend in his own right who brought the scandals of Watergate and the Vietnam War to the American people unfiltered, we have the major media outlets and their Talking Heads blindly supporting “facts” as told to them by the government, corporations and anyone else they deem worthy. Unfortunately, as the Iraq war has taught us, perceived truths are not always the facts and thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died as a consequence. It is extremely disturbing that the mainstream media’s abject failure to do its job and the public's abject failure to demand that they do so could result in a "mistake" of such magnitude.
The Media’s Big Six
► What the Big Six Really Own
Each of the Big Six own an array of media venues, from TV and radio stations to newspapers and magazines to film and production studios. To gain a better understanding of the breadth of their reach, both freepress and the Colombia Journalism Review have composed fairly up-to-date listings of the companies under their ownership.
In 1983, 90% of our media was owned and controlled by 50 different companies. Today, 90% of our news, whether we read, watch or listen to it, is dominated by six media giants:
- News Corporation
- The Walt Disney Company
- Time Warner
- CBS Corporation
A Big Six showing its hand?
The merging of so many media companies into today’s handful of powerhouses has been allowed, and some may say encouraged, by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), an independent government agency composed of five people whose duty it is to determine media policy and law. Created in 1934 by the Communications Act, the FCC’s role is to regulate interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable throughout the United States. Critics say it hasn’t done a very good job, and the proof is the existence of the Big Six.
And yet again?
Why should Americans be worried that only a small number of companies control so much of our media? Because with the Big Six’s enormous control over a wide spectrum of the media, from production companies to radio to television, comes the ability to dictate what events they see as newsworthy (or not) on a massive scale. News is no longer a public service meant to communicate facts but a means for these companies to make profits from entertaining viewers. The importance of a news event is determined by ratings not by what is considered to be in the public's best interest.
Independent News Options: Really Keeping It Real
Do you rely solely on the mainstream media for your news or do you read, view and listen to a variety of sources to get your news?
Your news should answer at least The Six "Ws" of Journalism. Is your news answering them?
A poll done by the Pew Research Center, in September of 2011, found that, “Fully 66% (of the public) say news stories often are inaccurate, 77% think that news organizations tend to favor one side, and 80% say news organizations are often influenced by powerful people and organizations.” A more recent Gallup poll, taken in September of 2015, showed that 60% of Americans still do not trust the mass media to deliver the news fully, accurately and fairly.
These numbers are not so much a bleak outlook but evidence that the public is finally beginning to realize that the mainstream media cannot be trusted – a good thing and perhaps a catalyst for change. Americans need to understand what is really happening in our country and the rest of the world by reading, watching and listening to a variety of news sources, not only the mainstream media. Many times a foreign newspaper or news program will reflect a completely different perspective on the way a story in this country is portrayed.
Thankfully, there are a growing number of independent news sources available to anyone with access to the internet. The following are only a sampling of the alternatives to the Big Six but most state that they are “non-partisan, independent and non-profit.” Some are more transparent than others; a couple go so far as to outline a code of journalistic ethics their company follows.
► Good news sources abide by a code of ethics which should include at a minimum:
• General news sources:
- The Real News Network (therealnews.com)
- The Christian Science Monitor (csmonitor.com)
- Truthout (truth-out.org)
- Reuters (reuters.com)
- The Nation (thenation.com)
- ProPublica (propublica.org)
- The Center for Public Integrity (publicintegrity.org)
- Reveal (The Center for Investigative Reporting) (revealnews.org)
- AllSides (allsides.com)
- FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) (fair.org)
- Who, What, Why (whowhatwhy.org)
- WorldNews (WN) Network (wn.com)
- Sputnik (sputniknews.com)
► Documentaries on this subject:
- #killswitch (2014)
- Shadows of Liberty (2012)
- John Pilger: Real Journalism (2012)
- WikiRebels: The Documentary (2010)
- Barbershop Punk (2010)
- Orwell Rolls in His Grave (2003)
- Project Censored: Is The Press Really Free? (1998)
• Foreign news sources:
- Arabic: Al Jazeera English (aljazeera.com)
- British: BBC News (bbc.com)
- British: The Guardian (guardian.co.uk/)
- British: openDemocracy (opendemocracy.net)
- Asian: Asia Times (atimes.com)
- Canadian: Global Research (globalresearch.ca/)
- Russian: RT (rt.com)
While most of the following sources do provide some general news, their primary roles are to monitor censorship and restriction of information on specific topics:
- PolitiFact (politifact.com)
- Open Secrets.org (opensecrets.org)
- FactCheck.org (factcheck.org)
- PunditFact (punditfact.com)
- Reporters Without Borders (rsf.org)
- Institute for Public Accuracy (accuracy.org)
- FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting)
- Media Channel (mediachannel.org)
- Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) (prwatch.org)
- SourceWatch (sourcewatch.org)
- ALEX Exposed (alecexposed.org)
Media Reform Coalition (mediareform.org.uk/)
- InsideClimate News (insideclimatenews.org)
Be a Real News Advocate
Americans need to become aware of viable news sources other than the mainstream media. It is essential that the public question the validity of their news. With only a tiny number of companies controlling what the vast majority of us see, hear and read and assume to be the "news", it is critical that the public realize that there are options. It is not only an important part of being an informed and engaged citizen, it is critical to our nation remaining a democracy.
All these sources claim that they do not accept government, political or corporate funding and that their missions are to seek the truth and provide real news versus the entertainment mass media outlets spew to maintain viewer ratings. But this does not eliminate bias. At the end of the day it is human beings, with all their shortcomings, creating the final product.
So it is up to every reader/listener to question their news and its sources. Being aware that the mainstream media is mostly propaganda is a good starting point. The difficult part is finding the truth.
 Joe Wolf, CC BY-ND 2.0, flickr
© 2012 Gemini Fox