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We are in the midst of an era of media transition. The corporate media is facing tremendous financial, employee and audience challenges. At the root of their problem is credibility. In 2004, Gallup reported that “39% currently say they have ‘not very much’ confidence in the media’s accuracy and fairness, while 16% say they have ‘none at all.’” Gallup reported this was the lowest credibility rating in three decades. But, the decline continued and by 2012, Gallup reported that distrust of the media had risen by 5% to 60% having little or no trust in the media – a new record. A 2013 Gallup poll found only 1 in 4 Americans trust television or newspaper news.
At the same time, technology has given rise to a new people-powered media. People can now turn their telephones into a video outlet and their social networks into a newspaper. Repeatedly we have seen someone publish a video from their phone and make national news. Any individual can go onto social networking outlets and reach thousands, if not tens of thousands of people in this new democratized media. Others create blogs that gain mass followings. Cities have groups like the DC Media group, citizen activists from the occupy movement, or the Media Mobilizing Project in Philadelphia building media teams. And, through activist organizations, news that is not covered in the media is shared widely. One reason we created Popular Resistance was to provide coverage of the burgeoning movement for social and economic justice that is building in the United States and around the world but ignored by the mass media. People can even get a daily movement news report in their email every morning.
This people-powered media builds on the long developing independent media. The independent media has built mass readership as the Internet has developed. Outlets like AlterNet, Common Dreams, Truthout, OpEd News and Truthdig reach hundreds of thousands of people. They are joined by movement media outlets like Black Agenda Report, ROAR Magazine, Occupy.com, Labor Notes, In These Times, Jacobin and Tidal among others, that report and analyze the movements actions, theory and issues.
New media projects like the Omidyar-Greenwald “ First Look Media” will experiment with a new form of independent media, building on the multi-decade independent media that already exists. Video outlets like The Real News show video from around the world and provide analysis not seen on cable or network news coverage. The Resistance Report provides video coverage of the movement and its actions. And, with Wikileaks, there are new ways for people to anonymously blow the whistle producing more news than all investigative reporting by the corporate media combined. People have a lot of credible alternatives to the corporate media. This is one more reason Pew reports 31% have stopped relying on traditional media.
A Successful Revolt Outside The Media Spotlight
Sometimes the problem is not falsehoods in the media but acts of omission, i.e. not reporting important information. An example of that has been around the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). A report this week by Media Matters confirms that there has been virtually no network coverage of the TPP over six months – ABC, CBS and NBC did not cover it at all, PBS had one story that was favorable of the TPP. And, if you don’t count Ed Schultz, cable TV (FOX, CNN and MSNBC) have only done one story on the TPP. This is an embarrassing lack of coverage of the largest trade agreement since the WTO. It is hard to not see this as an intentional decision by the mass media…….