SOLOMON: When Corporate Media Cover "Independent Media"

During the recent protests in Washington against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the leading cable news network became fascinated with "independent media." Journalism free of huge economic interests -- what a concept!"Modern-day demonstrators say you just can't trust folks like us, the so-called corporate media," a CNN anchor explained, introducing a report that aired repeatedly over a two-day period. Correspondent Brooks Jackson took it from there. "They call themselves the independent media," he said, and that means working without ties to the large corporations of the media world."Global corporate media? Gee, that would be us," Jackson deadpanned, "CNN, owned by Time Warner, soon to be merged with America Online. They don't like us very much. They want to tell their story their way."Naturally, CNN proceeded to tell their story CNN's way. The report allowed the "independent journalists" just a few tightly snipped words in edgewise. But at least one incisive remark made it through the network's editing gauntlet: "We believe that objectivity is, in fact, a myth -- that everyone has a bias, everyone has an agenda -- and that corporations like major news corporations have a corporate bias."Well, getting even a few seconds to make that point on CNN amounted to a bit of a breakthrough, although the correspondent's narration was intent on maintaining a bemused tone. Meanwhile, as usual, self-satire on CNN's part appeared to be inadvertent.Midway through the report, one of the independent journalists complained that on television, "Usually the corporate folks get the last word." Sure enough, a minute later CNN's Jackson got the last word, reading the end of the script as he noted "some unintended irony -- a protest against globalism covering itself on the World Wide Web."It was the kind of quip that goes over big in network studios, a smirky tag line with insight more apparent than real. In this case, the correspondent provided an easy cliche -- obscuring the vast distinction between international solidarity and corporate globalization.Gathering in the nation's capital to take action on behalf of human rights, economic justice, labor rights and environmental protection, thousands of protesters understood from the outset that mainstream news was unlikely to illuminate the key issues. Efforts by independent journalists have made alternative coverage available at www.indymedia.org and other websites.These days, news stories about "independent media" often emphasize the use of digital technology. But the most important successes are human rather than technical. No matter how modern the streaming audio and video, it wouldn't matter much if people across the country and around the planet weren't eager to find out what anti-corporate demonstrators are doing and why they're doing it.Within the appreciable constraints of corporate journalism, the mass media's coverage of the protests against the IMF and World Bank included some valuable reporting. For instance, Time magazine's April 24 edition had a short trenchant piece headlined "The IMF: Dr. Death?" Such content exists in mainstream media today because -- for years and decades -- activists as well as small (and yes, independent) media persisted in challenging the power of corporate globalizers while large media outlets could hardly have seemed to care less.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Close

Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.