10+ Independent Online News Sources and Why America Needs More of Them
Today, most major news outlets in the United States are controlled by a handful of massive, powerful companies, an anomaly called media consolidation. It is vital that Americans become more skeptical of the news 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. They will probably find that reality and what they assumed to be reality are actually very different.
Objectivity, Bias and Talking Heads
There was a time when the nightly news was synonymous with the words objective, impartial, fair and balanced. Reporters, newscasters, and their employers, saw it as a duty and badge of honor to inform the public, as factually as possible, of the happenings in this country and around the world.
No longer. Instead of abiding by the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics, we have 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 facts. Thousands of Americans and more than a million Iraqis died as a consequence. It is extremely disturbing that the mainstream media’s abject failure to do its job, with the public's apathy towards demanding that they do so, could result in a "mistake" of such magnitude.
The Media’s Big Six
In 1983, 90% of our media was owned and controlled by 50 different companies – which, at the time, so concerned author Ben Bagdikian that he penned his now classic book, The Media Monopoly. Today, 90% of our news, whether we read, watch or listen to it, is dominated primarily by six media giants which each own an array of media venues, from TV and radio stations to newspapers and magazines to film and production studios. The names may change, the Walt Disney Company now owns most of 21st Century Fox and AT&T is still attempting a takeover of Time Warner, but the fact remains that ownership of the media has consolidated into the hands of the very powerful few:
- Comcast Corporation/NBC Universal
- 21st Century Fox
- Walt Disney Company
- Time Warner
- CBS Corporation
The merging of so many media companies into today’s handful of powerhouses has been sanctioned 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. It wasn’t until the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the first major reform of the policy since it was created, that large corporations were permitted to begin their massive consolidation of the media - resulting in the Big Six.
Real News Versus Entertainment
Why should Americans be worried that only a small number of companies dominate so much of our news? Because with the Big Six’s enormous control over a wide spectrum of the media comes the ability to dictate what events they see as newsworthy (or not) on a massive scale. Especially worrying as these corporations no longer view news as a public service meant to disperse important information and facts but a means by which to make profits by entertaining viewers. Today, the mainstream media determines the significance, and therefore coverage, of an event by ratings and the whims of the political and corporate entities to which they are beholden, not by what is considered to be in the public's best interest.
Don't believe it? Just listen . . . .
It appears that the public’s trust in the media has been declining for some time. According to the Gallup research company, which began its data collection on the topic in 1972, the public’s trust in the media peaked in 1976 but has seen a slow, downward spiral ever since. The most recent Gallup poll, taken in September of 2016, shows that the trend does not appear to be stopping, with 68% of Americans still not trusting the mass media “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly.” A February 2016 Pew Research Center poll came away with an even more dire picture: only 18% of Americans had “a lot” of trust in the mainstream media and only 22% had “a lot” of trust in their local news.
According to Reporters Without Borders, Americans should be very concerned. The organization created the World Press Freedom Index in 2002 and has since compiled data annually on every nation based upon a list of seven criteria categories and indicators. Their 2017 World Press Freedom Index put the United States, a country whose citizens believe it to be a bastion of freedom, at number 43; its first index gave the United States the number 17 slot.
Independent News Options: Keeping It Real
Thankfully, the American public no longer needs to rely solely on one of the Big Six for their information as there are a growing number of independent news sources available to anyone with internet access. The following are only a sampling of those alternatives. Most state that they are “non-partisan, independent and non-profit.” Some are more transparent than others; a couple even outline a code of journalistic ethics their company follows.
General News Sources
- Reason (reason.com)
- The Christian Science Monitor (csmonitor.com)
- Truthout (truth-out.org)
- Reuters (reuters.com)
- Democracy Now! (democracynow.org)
- ProPublica (propublica.org)
- The Center for Public Integrity (publicintegrity.org)
- Reveal (The Center for Investigative Reporting) (revealnews.org)
- AllSides (allsides.com)
- C-SPAN (c-span.org)
- Who, What, Why (whowhatwhy.org)
- The Intercept (theintercept.com)
- Consortium News (consortiumnews.com)
- Mint Press News (mintpressnews.com)
- Newsbud (newsbud.com)
Foreign News Sources
- Arabic: Al Jazeera English (aljazeera.com)
- British: BBC News (bbc.com)
- British: openDemocracy (opendemocracy.net)
- Asian: Asia Times (atimes.com)
- Canadian: Global Research (globalresearch.ca)
- Russian: RT (rt.com)
- International: Fair Observer (fairobserver.com)
- International: Consortium of Investigative Journalists (icij.org)
Sites That Report on Censorship
While most of the following sources do provide some general news, their primary roles are to monitor censorship and the restriction of information on specific topics.
- PolitiFact (politifact.com)
- Open Secrets (opensecrets.org)
- FactCheck (factcheck.org)
- Watchdog (watchdog.org)
- Reporters Without Borders (rsf.org)
- Institute for Public Accuracy (accuracy.org)
- FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) (fair.org)
- Media Channel (mediachannel.org)
- Media Reform Coalition (MRC) (mediareform.org.uk)
- Accuracy in Media (aim.org)
Independent Reporters and Whistleblowers
The sources below fall into categories unto their own. The first is a group of fiercely independent reporters who believe in old school journalism, some with their own websites and articles; the second is a group of several sites that encourage whistleblowers to speak out and provide a forum for their information.
- Greg Palast (gregpalast.com)
- John Pilger (johnpilger.com)
- Nick Davies (nickdavies.net)
- Seymour Hersch
- David Sirota (davidsirota.com)
How to Separate the Fact from the Fiction
With only a tiny number of companies controlling what the vast majority of us see, hear, read and assume to be newsworthy, it is critical that the public realize that there are options and have access to those alternatives. Yet, even with all these resources at our fingertips, how does one separate the fact from the fiction?
- at the very minimum, your news should be answering what are considered to be the six ‘Ws’ of journalism: who, what, where, when, why and how. It is amazing how much of the mainstream media does not even attempt this.
- still having trouble knowing what to believe? Here are an additional six questions that will help you determine what media to trust.
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 and will not ever eliminate all bias. It is up to every reader/listener/watcher 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.
Questions & Answers
© 2012 Gemini Fox