More Voters Turn to Independent Media for Content They Can Trust

The rise of the 24-hour news cycle brings a dangerous aspect to news media that is now often overlooked. Sensationalized headlines and attacking political opponents has become common place. The goal for news media has shifted from informing to entertaining.

Public discontent with these news organizations is reflected in a 2013 Gallop poll which found that only 23 percent of U.S. citizens trust mainstream media. This provides an opportunity for those passionate and determined enough to engage in real investigative journalism to do so through independent media.

KrisAnne Hall, host for Liberty First Radio and attorney, is very familiar with this state of affairs. She claims that there isn’t much new to independent media and pointed as far back as 1762 and the Committees of Correspondence, in which influential leaders like Samuel Adams moved to shift public discourse into an anti-British sentiment. In other words, introducing a new means to access information and organize politically is not a new idea.

Ms. Hall highlighted the importance of accessing “the truth absent of drama.” Twenty-four hour news stations often dramatize news stories and use crafty rhetoric to hide their own biases. However, it is now on us to teach each other the truth because the major institutions are failing. While speaking about the work of John Adams and Mercy Otis Warren during the 18th Century, Hall said that as the two men traveled, “they taught themselves and others the spirits of truth.”

One major step for independent media is Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill’s The Intercept. It allows concerned citizens the chance to engage in rigorous investigative journalism while having a platform to display that information without the filter of a corporate news network.

In a recently published article, James Clapper talked about how involved the government can be in the publication process, leading to many stories becoming censored or simply not released. This article sheds light on the growing desire to move away from traditional media sources so people have the ability to present an unscripted source of information to the public — not too different from the approach of Britt Hysen, editor-in-chief for Millennial Magazine.

Millennial Magazine works to “disrupt media as the premier online destination for solution oriented news.” Hysen previously worked as a journalist at CNBC, but “found the work too restricting and scripted toward the network’s agenda.”

Her desire to work within her own framework inspired her to start up Millennial Magazine. This unique news source added an element not often seen in the media: solution-oriented news. Rather than simply report on facts and give commentary on news, she was “able to tailor her message to adding solutions to every issue she discussed.”

Another initiative that branched off from independent media is Open Debates 2016. Jacob Dean, coalition member as well as host and producer for the radio broadcast, “Filter Free Radio,” spoke to how independent media has allowed millions of people to see the third party debates in 2012.

The Coalition for Open Debates wants to give voters a chance to watch unscripted debates among presidential candidate with unfiltered questions. Unlike the presidential debates in 2012, the candidates will not receive a list of the questions beforehand either. Open Debates 2016 is a tangible movement focused on providing citizens with a means to become educated voters, while also highlighting one of the many great things that can arise from independent media.

But, what does the future hold for independent media? These organizations face challenging roadblocks regarding funding, attracting viewers, and providing unique content so those viewers return.

Dean pointed out that independent media largely consists of “trying to tell people what they don’t want to hear” while often critiquing our most powerful public figures and corporations, something possible big donors rarely endorse.

The unique aspect of most independent news is the fact that in spite of the funding challenges, people are running, funding, and putting in the hard work to produce stories that give readers the information they need to make well-informed decisions.

Independent media represents the voice of the public in the best way possible. It features a passionate and diverse range of people providing information to the public because they feel a moral rather than financial reason to do so.

Whether it’s the work of Scahill and Greenwald with the Edward Snowden leaks, Mr. Dean’s Filter Free Radio, Ms. Hysen’s Millennial Magazine, or the Coalition for Open Debates, independent actors are now providing viable alternatives to the mainstream 24-hour news stations.

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