We'd no sooner asked you to send us a brief description of your favorite alternative media outlet than a storm of e-mails (and a few actual letters) began to blow in. When the dust settled and interns Mandy Hu and Emma Pollin had tabulated the results, we had about 1,200 nominations for websites, newspapers, magazines, radio and TV shows, newsletters, zines, listservs and collectives.
Some of the sources got wind of our request and seemed to view it as a contest for the most "votes." Bartcop, for example, urged its readers on with promises of "a weekend in a suite at The Venetian in Las Vegas if we win," accompanied by lavish views of the hotel. (The vision of the 467 Bartcop voters crammed into the weekend suite delights.)
We'll skip the counts, recounts and hanging chads. We merely want to know where people go to get real news and sustenance in these days of media mediocrity and misinformation. What follows is an unscientific cross-section of as many of your nominations as space allows.
ACORN (www.acorn.org) provides a valuable update on what's going on with economic and social justice. It also provides updates and news for people who sign up for Internet service through their ISP.
Adbusters is by far the most unique magazine, visually and contextually stimulating.
GREGORY E. KELLERMAN
I find alternet.org the most useful for thoughtful articles and discussion forums on a wide range of topics. Alternet seems dedicated to getting progressive voices heard by more than just progressives.
St. Paul, Minn.
Americas.org is a wonderful grassroots site dedicated to news, analysis and campaigns on Latin America and globalization. It mixes original reporting with links to news sources all over the world. It's really good at promoting action on urgent issues–fast track, sweatshops, WTO demonstrations, immigration reform, human rights campaigns like the jailed environmentalists in Mexico, the School of the Americas and so on.
When I want to get surly and kick conservative ass, I go to Bartcop.com. Its clenched-fist liberalism gets me upset, gets me riled, makes me want to scream, makes me wonder what has gone so wrong with our government and our world. Damn it! Bartcop feels our pain.
A recovering Catholic who loves fine tequila and claims to be ADD with a double-digit IQ, Bartcop lives somewhere in Oklahoma, calls his hometown Knuckledrag, or K-drag, because he is surrounded by caveman conservatives, to whom he has an open invitation every Thursday night to debate him in a chat room. Bartcop is a true original. He alienates many extreme liberals, and longtime fans desert him for a lack of ideological purity–he supported the current bombing, despises Ralph Nader for electing Bush, hates the NRA but owns a handgun. If The Nation is Jimmy Carter, Bartcop is Billy.
I have a satellite dish that beams from Canada. If I want to know what's really going on, I watch the BBC World News or the Canadian news. It's pathetic how the American people get only what the powers that be give them.
Woodland Hills, Calif.
Buzzflash.com. Hands down. It has an unwavering dedication to holding Bush and the Republicans' feet to the fire for their general dishonesty, arrogance, lust for power and greed (and the Democrats' too for all-round wimpiness).
CANADIAN BROADCASTING COMPANY
I vote for the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC). If you want a fresh, in-depth, worldwide perspective on today's events, their Newsworld International program meets the challenge. CBC's coverage is in stark contrast to the repetitive, boilerplate, spin-control rhetoric on CNN, Fox, ABC and NBC.
Clamor magazine (www.clamormagazine.org) is the best periodical to come out of the antiauthoritarian Battle of Seattle generation. From a scene nurtured by punk rock and zines, it's literate yet accessible, questioning everything but never cynical. Clamor covers politics, from the recent rash of cop murders in Cincinnati to the Zapatistas and reports on the international anti-vulture trade rallies, as well as lifestyle variances from every gender and sexual viewpoint. Apparently produced primarily by young adults, it rarely panders to commercial generational stereotypes–no lounging, lip-ringed bohos or faux angry punk rockers. It proves that anarchism can be thoughtful, analytical and even nondogmatic.
Salt Lake City
I discovered Commondreams.org after September 11. I was depressed about the attacks and about the superpatriotic, jingoistic media response. I desperately needed to hear dissenting voices. Commondreams was a godsend. It combs the media for the best progressive editorials of the day. It has daily news updates from a variety of independent sources and links to some forty newspapers around the world.
THE DAILY HOWLER
The Daily Howler (www.dailyhowler.com), besides its keen critical intellect, brings a sense of outrage to its evisceration of sleaze, sophistry and stupidity in media from the New York Times to Fox "News." Its fervor is marked by an underlying devotion to democracy and by a sharp and often uproarious wit.
JOHN A. WALCHAK
DEMOCRACY NOW! IN EXILE
I nominate Amy Goodman's broadcasts in exile. She continued broadcasting on September 11 and after even when told to evacuate. She has shown courage and grace, and continues to provide excellent news analysis despite being under personal attack from Pacifica.
New York City
Democracy Now! In Exile–I listen to it at www.democracynow.org, and it's a lifeline. Goodman's interview with Farid Esack was fabulous–a feminist Muslim male! Shame on Pacifica for locking her out.
Democrats.com blasts sniveling Republicans and spineless Democrats alike.
Democrats.com is like Radio Free Europe to those who want the real story. Its e-mails contain links to articles on everything from voter fraud in Florida to grassroots politics.
MARY JANE SHIMSKY
If it didn't exist, Designer/builder would have to be invented! Recent topics: unusual housing options like "airplane on a stick" (incredible! I want to live in one), big-box retailers and how to fight them, and preserving Old Havana. It beat the New York Times to the punch with a piece on how design and building techniques might have contributed to the collapse of the twin towers.
DUBYA'S DAYLY DIARY
EAT THE STATE!
Eat the State!, a biweekly newspaper in Seattle, is also online at www.eatthestate.org. I've come to rely on its expertise and dedication to help me understand political matters ranging from City Council elections to the aftermath of September 11. Its work is well documented, rigorously logical and highly ethical. ETS! embodies the principle "Think globally, act locally."
West Hartford, Conn.
Environment Hawai'i is researched, written and published monthly by Patricia Tummons from Kona, Hawaii (www.environment-hawaii.org). It investigates zoning, despoilment, natural resources, federal, state and local policy and all manner of important issues relating to the fragile ecosystem of Hawaii, and the world. This muckraking newsletter is informative (and often horrifying).
FREE RADIO SANTA CRUZ
Santa Cruz, Calif.
Free Radio Santa Cruz (96.3 fm) brings us voices and news we rarely hear elsewhere. This unlicensed station is a beacon of independent media hope amid the sea of media conglomeration and managed news. This all-volunteer anarchist collective shows how local citizens can intervene and improve our communities. It can be heard at http://members.cruzio.com/~frsc.
GreenBiz (http://greenbiz.com) addresses consumer and business issues related to the environment in an approachable, readable and often witty style. By including current topics that range from "Bioterror in Your Burger" to articles on the air, water and pollution of all types, this website ultimately deals with public health and the health of our planet.
ELAINE J. AMELLA
New York City
www.guardian.co.uk posts updates every ten minutes to its World Latest section, supplies top-notch investigative journalism and a relatively objective analysis. I read things there that I don't hear about from US news sources for days, if at all. Its Weblog is a fantastic guide to websites and articles, and its Special Report is chock-full of useful information.
ieamericaradio.com and its syndicated talk-show hosts Mike Malloy and Peter Werbe report beyond what the corporations and the right wing want citizens to hear. It is beyond refreshing to hear talk-radio not filled with right-wing propaganda puppets spewing hate and lies to mindless worshipers.
JOHN L. WEANT
The Colorado Springs Independent is a breath of fresh, irreverent Rocky Mountain air. It is regularly castigated for telling us what the daily Gazette will not–about rapacious developers out to pave these priceless open spaces, about bigotry against gays and other minorities, the corruption of public officials, unequal opportunities (www.csindy.com).
IndyMedia.org covers local and national events as posted by its readers: "If you don't like the media, become the media!"
IN THESE TIMES
I was first turned on to radical politics by In These Times magazine when I was 15. Ever since then, it has given me analysis and reports from the front that have kept me appraised of the world's hidden history and of the real forces shaping today's politics.
JEWISH PEACE NEWS
Santa Cruz, Calif.
I subscribe to the daily bulletins from the Jewish Peace News, a listserv of the Jewish Voice for Peace in San Francisco (JewishPeaceNewsfirstname.lastname@example.org; or email@example.com). Their scope and excellent selectivity on Israel and the occupied territories and related topics ranges through Ha'aretz, the Jerusalem Post, Al Jazeera, Agence France-Presse, the Wall Street Journal, The Independent, The Nation and many other sources. Each item is preceded by a lucid and often witty précis. Even before 9/11 JPN was inval0uable in critiquing and countering the official US line; since then it feels indispensable.
KOOP radio 91.7 is the only community-owned, community-managed radio outlet in the area. All the programmers are volunteers; their entire budget is less than the salary of most program directors. They have local news and public affairs programming such as Radical Mothers' Voice, Native Horizons and Left in Sight. Its half-hour weekday drive-time news program focuses on progressive issues both local and international. KOOP also provides a forum for local grassroots groups and charitable organizations.
GERALD M. THOMASON
I nominate Berkeley's KPFA radio–the original and now only truly independent Pacifica station (www.kpfa.org). The cabal at Pacifica has been trying to remake the network into an easy-listening chain and leave the progressives in the Bay Area, LA, Houston, Washington and New York with no media outlet.
La Lutta New Media Collective is one of the nation's most progressive, informative and cutting-edge media sources. I've watched La Lutta develop from a small labor of love to a thriving site that mixes politics with art, organizing with culture and–most important–the voice of the people with news reporting. I turn to the La Lutta Dispatch for the stories of struggle that don't make it to the larger progressive news sites–news from the picket lines, shop floors and town-hall meetings; it's the movement's bullhorn. Thousands of us around the world have bookmarked La Lutta (www.lalutta.org).
LEFT BUSINESS OBSERVER
Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa.
Left Business Observer, Doug Henwood's much too infrequent and sometimes erratically published newsletter, provides an essential dissection of the latest machinations of our manipulated economy. By providing real world macro- and micro-economic data, LBO substitutes empirical science and trenchant criticism for rank speculation and opinion. LBO provides all the ammunition I need for intellectual self-defense in a world of neoliberal, monopoly, consumer capitalism.
JEFFREY A. KURLAND
One of my favorite publications is Jim Hightower's Lowdown. He is an advocate, the advocate, for populism. Hightower has energy and courage, experience and wisdom. He researches subjects others ignore, and he is funny. Sometimes humor is the best means of communication.
IRENE MARK BUITENKANT
Mediachannel.org is my personal number-one news portal. Every day, it provides me with thought-provoking, intelligent commentary on breaking news, detailed and critical analysis, plus links to thousands of newspapers throughout the world. It has a firm grasp on how good reporting can inform the public, what freedom of the press really means–and their hearts are in the right place.
www.meria.net presents the news and information that corporate-owned media censor. It is fresh, fast-moving and colorful, with worldwide coverage based on "take it or leave it–you make up your own mind." The show presents the listener with "the other side of the coin (or the con)"!
New Dimensions Broadcasting Network presents a breadth and depth of socially conscious programming on public radio and the Internet (www.newdimensions.org), second to none. Their widely acclaimed, award-winning flagship radio series, New Dimensions, a one- hour in-depth exploration of ideas through dialogue, airs on more than 300 public radio stations nationwide and is hosted by Michael Tooms, acknowledged as one of the best interviewers in media today.
NEW HAMPSHIRE GAZETTE
The New Hampshire Gazette (Box 756, Portsmouth, NH 03801) has a unique view on local, national and international events, provides much-needed balance and has an excellent memory. While large media outlets seem to remember only twenty minutes back, the Gazette draws on hundreds of years of experience. It is the nation's oldest newspaper (begun twenty years before this nation was born) and still possesses the spirit and sharp penmanship it did 245 years ago. Finely tuned satire and caricature are its weapons of choice. The Gazette knows a good laugh is more powerful than a violent strike.
I have never run into anything like the New Hampshire Gazette. It is refreshing and bizarre. Its slant is nearly vertical.
NewsPlace.org, an independent, university-related, noncommercial website, is a clearinghouse for links to places to find understanding and humor about current events. And its daughter site, WhiteHouse 2000, has links dealing with the Florida media recount and with the entire 2000 presidential campaign, along with a glimpse into websites for 2004.
For an accessible, socially conscious read that offers global perspective and Midwestern reality, you can't beat Nygaard Notes, an e-mail newsletter out of Minneapolis. Jeff Nygaard has a knack for taking mainstream media's logic and standing it on its head. He offers a factual, concrete critique of the powers that be. Want to read about the contradictions of modernity implied in the war in Afghanistan? Read The New Yorker. Want to change your neighbor's mind about the war? Read Nygaard Notes.
The Onion (www.theonion.com) manages to walk the line between absurdity and absurd reality, making for some of the best satire there is. It also deftly parodies our dumbed-down media. Take the following headlines, for example: "Bush Executes 253 New Mexico Democrats: Retakes State's Five Electoral Votes"; "CIA Admits It's Good at Overthrowing Stuff, Not So Much the Intelligence."
The Onion, The Onion, The Onion. Do I even have to defend my choice? OK, I will–The Onion's report on God's press conference after September 11. 'Nuff said.
THE OTHER SIDE
Baton Rouge, La.
One of my favorite media outlets is The Other Side (300 W. Appsley St., Philadelphia, PA 19144), an evangelical Christian magazine, which, unlike most such, is ecumenical, progressive, prochoice, progay, profeminist, propeace, proconsumer, propeople–as opposed to proNAFTA (www.theotherside.org).
Boynton Beach, Fla.
Randi Rhodes on WJNO, West Palm Beach, broadcasts every weekday from 3 pm to 7 pm after Rush Limblah. Unlike the aforementioned, she does not screen her calls to make sure she can outdo the caller–and she backs up every statement with research from newspapers all over the world. She follows almost every bill in Congress. She's not syndicated, but she can be found at www.wjno.com.
The Resist Newsletter has been published since 1967 by Resist–a nonprofit that funds projects for social change (www.resistinc.org). Published ten times a year, Resist gives voice to grassroots activists and academics. Descriptions of the work of grantees provide a snapshot of social activism around the country. Knowing about this work leaves me feeling more hopeful. Great photos! Resist–A Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority.
When the Sagmeister is funny, his sardonic wit is sharper than The Onion by a country mile. When the Sagmeister is somber, he's more poignant, heartfelt and wrenching than… anything. He has insight, sees trends and spotlights little-known events of contemporary and historical significance in a manner found nowhere else (www.iei.net/~sag).
www.smirkingchimp.com compiles a variety of informative and well-written articles from newspapers, magazines, websites and readers and offers feedback outlets for comments. I've found it a great comfort in these troubled times. It underscores the fact that you can't fool all the people all the time.
TheSpleen.com is an irreplaceable, irreverent source of information I couldn't find anywhere else. From reports on the Nader campaign to in-depth accounts of the gem and drug trade in Southeast Asia, the site always provides fresh angles and critical thinking.
THIS IS HELL
This Is Hell, a radio show on Northwestern University's WNUR, 89.3, airs every Saturday at 9 am. The host, Chuck Mertz, has relevant, timely guests and topics and frequently opens my eyes to stories I've never heard about. Chuck and his cohorts also manage to weave a lot of humor into the broadcast. And www.thisishell.net has evolved into a well-organized gateway to many stories and sources across the net.
WASHINGTON FREE PRESS
The Washington Free Press, a Seattle-based progressive bimonthly newspaper, has had stories in Project Censored's top twenty-five in three out of the past five years. It frequently carries topics and issues of wide import that get into the mainstream papers months or years later. It's grassroots journalism with an ear to the ground.
New York City
I enjoy The Washington Spectator (London Terrace Station, POB 20065, New York, NY 10011), a sharply focused one-page newsletter published by The Public Concern Foundation. Each issue concentrates on a single political story, from a witty, progressive point of view, with a summary of other Washington foolishness, slugged "FYI," which often reminds me of The Nation's "News of the Weak in Review." Good stuff.
Listener-sponsored and commercial-free, WFMU of East Orange, New Jersey, offers a wide variety of programming determined solely by the obsessions of its volunteer staff. A beacon of nonconformity since 1958, WFMU now broadcasts on 91.1 in the NYC area and 90.1 in the Hudson Valley and can be heard anywhere at www.wfmu.org.
www.whoseflorida.com was established about a year ago as a grassroots effort in response to Jeb Bush's initiatives to dismantle and privatize state government, to give the developers free rein, give big tax cuts to the wealthy and essentially to turn as much of the state revenue over to the corporate interests as possible. Whoseflorida is documenting and archiving the effects of these actions and maintains a database accessible to anyone looking for a side of the Florida story largely ignored by the press.
WLUW-FM radio, Loyola University's station, mixes great independent music, interesting issue-oriented programming, including some syndicated programs from a refreshing liberal point of view, and a variety of community-oriented programming. WLUW is a really hip jukebox, a great alternative newspaper and a center for diverse cultures within this city (www.wluw.org).
I recommend Yes! magazine, the quarterly journal of the Positive Futures Network. Each issue focuses on a single theme, like "Working for Life," "Reclaiming the Commons," "Technology, Who Chooses?" Its in-depth coverage focuses on people who believe that a more life-affirming world is possible and what they are doing to achieve it. Inspired by Yes!, I've quit full-time employment, pursued a vocation in sustainable architecture and installed photovoltaic panels on my roof.
Hopewell Borough, N.J.
Like a breath of spring air, I discovered zmag.org after September 11. I was looking for anything different. Here is a publication that delivers fresh, provocative journalism. When everyone agrees with everyone, it's a dangerous time to be an American.