Friday, April 09, 2010
The Case for Independent Journalism
From Robert Parry, Editor, Consortium News
As the Great Recession finally grinds toward an end, there are many worthy causes that need support. And I understand why independent journalism may not be at the top of many lists.
People like to see practical results from their donations - houses built, wetlands protected, children fed, and other urgent needs addressed. Independent journalism seems more abstract, less tangible. Can't someone else take care of that?
But the hard truth is that a key reason why there are so many desperate needs in the United States is that the Right succeeded in building a giant propaganda machine that has overwhelmed America's political process.
As the Right came to dominate Washington over much of the past three decades, the federal government reversed course on environmental protections, fair treatment of unions, anti-poverty efforts and other domestic concerns. Taxes were slashed for the rich, trillions of dollars were poured into the military-industrial complex, and regulations were removed from banks and powerful corporations.
The result has been painful to watch: a shrinking middle class, bloody conflicts overseas, an exploding federal debt, and an economy that goes from bubble to bust.
So, yes, there are many social needs that demand our attention, but it must be a top priority that we go to the heart of the problem and challenge the Right's powerful propaganda machine - with facts and truth.
Only then can millions of Americans come to understand how they have been duped by clever lies and distortions. Only then can American democracy begin to heal.
And, if this challenge is not undertaken, the stopgap efforts won't work.
We could try to buy up all the endangered wetlands in the country, but that won't save many of them from being swallowed by rising oceans or being inundated by severe storm surges - because the Right conned so many voters into believing that global warming was a hoax.
The same is true for the decline of the American middle class. As long as the Right convinces Tea Partiers that "liberty" means letting Big Corporations do whatever they want, the most important freedoms in America, including living in a democracy that is truly "for the people," will not survive.
So, in my view, much of our current crisis - political, economic, social and even moral - traces back to this triumph of the Right's propaganda over honest information, and thus that is where we must begin.
As you may know, I saw this crisis develop first hand while working for the Associated Press, Newsweek and PBS Frontline - all mainstream news outlets that came under intense pressure (both internally and externally) to retreat from their journalistic responsibilities. Similar pressures influenced the New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS, CNN and many other news outlets.
I concluded that the only way to reverse this dangerous trend was to build honest media that was committed to delivering important information to the public, truly without fear or favor.
Over the past 15 years, our news Web site, Consortiumnews.com, has done everything it could on a shoestring budget. We have provided a steady flow of well-reported investigative articles from experienced journalists, along with expert analyses often from ex-CIA analysts who share our concern about the pollution of information that has so harmed the United States.
But we can only survive and expand with your help.
So, please contribute what you can so we can continue doing our part in returning America's democratic Republic to its noble ideals - and the government to the task of taking on the profound challenges ahead.
(Our parent organization, Consortium for Independent Journalism, is a 501-c-3 non-profit, so your contributions can be tax-deductible.)
There are four ways you can help:
--By donating either by credit card at the Web site or by check - to Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ); Suite 102-231; 2200 Wilson Blvd.; Arlington VA 22201. Or you can use PayPal (our account is named after our e-mail address "firstname.lastname@example.org").
--By signing up for a monthly donation. With contributions of $10 or more a month, you can qualify for war correspondent Don North's new DVD, "Yesterday's Enemies" about the lives of former Salvadoran guerrillas. For details, click here.
--By scheduling a joint speech by former CIA analyst Ray McGovern and journalist Robert Parry. The suggested fees - $2,000 for community groups, $5,000 for colleges and larger non-profits, and $10,000 for those who can afford it - go entirely to keeping Consortiumnews.com afloat.
--By buying the three-book set of Robert Parry's Lost History, Secrecy & Privilege, and Neck Deep (co-authored with Sam and Nat Parry). The discount price is only $29. Our goal here is less fundraising than getting as many of these books into libraries as possible. For details, click here.
As always, thanks for your support.
Robert Parry, Editor
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. He founded Consortiumnews.com in 1995 as the Internet's first investigative magazine. He saw it as a way to combine modern technology and old-fashioned journalism to counter the increasing triviality of the mainstream U.S. news media.