Ronda Hauben on Mon, 10 Jan 2005 01:01:49 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Working on article about the need for a progressive press in US

Some thoughts and questions about the US and online News Media and
the recent election in the US

I am working on an article about the ferment in media in the
US and whether it can help to challenge the conservative media
that has been the support for the manipulation of public opinion
in the US, as for example, with mainstream US media promoting the
notion of WMD as the basis to invade Iraq.

I wondered if anyone on this list has suggestions of
where there might be some help in understanding the
concern of media people, of journalists, of progressive
people, etc. that there be a media that is less easy
to manipulate in the US.

Recently there was a conference at the Berkman Center for Internet
and Society at Harvard in early December 2004.

Jay Rosen posted on his blog, that the director of the
Berkman Center, John Palfrey, told him:

"We want to ask hard questions that get past the hype and to
what's real in this story -- if anything," Palfrey wrote. "We
are interested, to the greatest exten t we can, in uncovering,
together, the truth about whether the internet."

"Is the Internet really is changing politics, not just in the US but
around the world, for the better."

Also that the question being raised for the conference was
Has "citizenship" really changed in the online era?

Was anyone on this mailing list at the conference?

The reports I saw of what happened at the conference seemed very
narrow and counter to the stated purpose

It didn't seem, for example, that the essential question of how
there could only be a real challenge to the Bush administration
if there had been a challenge to the conservative press by a
more progressive, and broad ranging press in the US was even raised
at the conference. There are example like OhmyNews in South Korea, or
Telepolis in Germany, which show that a broader and more netizen
oriented press is possible. Articles written for these focus on
encouraging discussion rather than providing information that no one
cares about. Also if there were such a press in the US, then
it would be the basis to provide a pressure on the more conservative
news media to allow their journalists to report in a way that it serves
a public interest and purpose.

Also it seemed that the Republican online director was welcomed.
Did those holding the conference consider that what the Republican
Party did in the election was part of "changing politics...for the
better."?  That's a hard pill to swollow if that was the rationale
for inviting him.

Also there was an interview with Dan Gilmor in Ohmynews (the English
edition) shortly after the conference. Gilmor talks about how he
doesn't want to challenge capitalism and how the conservative people
in S Korea should form their own form of an OhmyNews.

This is hard to understand as Ohmynews in S. Korea was formed to
challenge the domination of politics by the conservative media.

In the US as well, the conservative media has much funding and
ability to promote capitalism. What is needed is a way to
critique capitalism, and to develop a progressive challenge to
the conservative media in the US. Unbridled capitalism running
rampant and without having the eyes of any media challenging it
doesn't represent any regard for capitalism nor for the public
purpose that journalism is commonly claimed as the goal.
Thus it is hard to understand how Gilmor can equate "grassroots"
journalism with a support for broader access to a media for
those with procapitalism and conservative viewpoints.

Now there is a new conference planned at the Harvard Berkman School.
Blogging, Journalism & Credibility by invitation only.

One of the papers they propose that people read for the conference
is about a blog that criticized the North Korean government. While
the North Korean government may not be the ideal government form,
journalists who joined the condemnation of the Iraq government
in the run up to the Iraq war, helped to prepare the groundwork for
the illegal US invasion of Iraq. Since the US govt and the neocons
are currently targeting North Korea as they did Iraq, it would seem
that US journalists need to learn how they were used to wage
an invasion in violation of international law against Iraq,
by their support of the US governments phony claims of WMD in

Proposing a blog that targets the North Korean government as
an example of credible journalism is another hard pill to swollow.

It is hard to understand what the purpose of these conferences at
the Berkman Center are for, except to help to discourage a more progressive
media effort on the part of people who realize the problem that exists
in the US at the moment.

It would be good to know of current efforts to consider how to
challenge the conservative media's power in the US.
Are there any online papers that are welcoming of input and articles,
and discussion toward a progressive viewpoint?

About 10 years ago, Michael Hauben wrote an article that then became
a chapter in our book "Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet
and the Internet". The chapter was "The Effect of the Net on the
Professional News Media"

Though he spoke about Usenet as the dominant online media at the time,
one could now substitute newsgroups, blogs, mailing lists etc and
draw similar conclusions. Michael also considered the professional news
media and what they would need to do to maintain any credibility, i.e.
how they would have to change.

Is this what the Berkman conferences are about, ie. a concern that the
netizen form of online media may replace the established news media?
Those who have such a concern, and who feel there is a place for
professional journalists and journalism in the future, along with
the netizen reporters, would seem to do well to look at OhmyNews
and Telepolis as examples of a more progressive form of journalism
that supports a certain number of professional journalists, but also
welcomes netizen contributions.

Yet none of this seems to be on the agenda for discussion at the Berkman
Center at Harvard.

Is it on the agenda for discussion anywhere that anyone knows of?

Thanks for any comments on the issues and questions my efforts to work
on this article are raising.


Some articles and contributions considering these issues are
online at:

Netizens News Online

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