As you may or may not have known if you're not a press watcher, the most exciting story in the world over the last year or so is the Edward Snowden story. It's spectacular in its scope to its exotic locations like Hong Kong, Hawaii and the Soviet Union. Should make for a smashing film. What it may also have sparked is the creation of a brand new and much needed adversarial American Press. Ebay billionaire Pierre Omidyar and the Guardian Journalist Glenn Greenwald are trying to create a new kind of press even as we speak. And it's real money. A rumored $250 million dollars.
As people like to spend the money of Bill Gates has, in our imagination (such as fully funding my viable third party plan or creating a truly non profit health insurer that would put for profit insurers out of business thus creating single payer or the old Blue Cross Blue Shield...my dream.) I would love to spend Pierre's and Glenn's $250 million dollars in order to create a much needed Real American Press, that's not owned by the same people who own the politicians.
First, let us look again at the Chomsky/Hermann Propaganda Model: If you want to know why your local press sucks then this is the first essay that you should read. But here are the 5 rules as to why your local paper probably isn't very good. From Wikipedia:
One local example would be the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, which is owned by a right wing billionaire. You could argue that Richard Mellon Scaife, a right wing conservative banking heir, uses all five rules to produce a paper to push elite interests and to especially keep working class whites clueless about who the real moochers are in society. You'll never see an editorial asking for a return to Glass Steagall but if a poor black person shoots another poor black person then, hey, that's "The News". But the truth is that the "liberal" paper, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, isn't much better as the center left paper because they're bound and strangled by the myth of objectivity. They can't call things as they are and their owners are probably Center Right the great Tony Norman notwithstanding.
If Pierre follows through, and if his car doesn't mysteriously erupt into flames, he could trump all five rules. You might even see the Palestinian point of view mentioned in a positive light may miracles never cease. I would certainly hope that Omidyar, who looks to be slightly brown skinned and is reportedly of Iranian descent, would run a press that would be highly critical of plans to turn Iran into a cinder, the positions of Netanyahu or Diane Feinstein's subsequent applause of such nuking notwithstanding.
But he has to build an institution that can sell that vision. Here are the ten rules, early draft as I'm going to write a fuller piece later on, that I hope he tries in order to create a democratic press.
Dream One: Emulate the Guardian's Board and Trust Fund
You might wonder why American press outlets didn''t hire Glenn Greenwald or even if they had would they have run his stories. Doubtful. Or they would have been weakened and denuded by the "objectivity" standard. The trust fund allowed the Guardian to actually pursue real journalism. And the board, being that is filled with people that like journalism and not just trust fund kids, allowed that Edward Snowden story to thrive. What's best, they don't have to invest in money losing print although they might take a look at Sunday papers because those are pretty profitable.
Dream Two: Create a visual component and market yourselves to Netflix.
I should also add: Mirror everything online. There are already the outlets. They just need the financing. Democracy Now, the Real News, Sam Seder, Marc Maron (give him and Lee Camp slots opposite the Daily Show/Colbert and let's see what they can do..) and most certainly The Young Turks. Where else could these guys work anyway? CNN?
Dream Three: Base your paper around the state, then the city, then the federal level.
I think you should create statewide papers. I have almost no idea what's going on at the state level. Fracking is literally signing my death warrant and I'm pretty sure the frackers aren't being regulated at all but because newspaper owners are players and investors I won't know until I'm drinking radioactive water.
Dream Four: Create a democratic newsroom.
This is the hard part. And how much control are you willing to give up? But let writers choose their editors and also treat the writers decently. Give them the option to self publish if they print something you don't like. Use progressive discipline. Give them a percentage of books based on their reporting.
Dream Five: Create a situation where you can get a shot at employment without knowing somebody or going to an Ivy League school.
This is a personal pet peeve of mine. I see sites that I know that my style works for but I can't get in the door because they won't let me try out.
Dream Six: Teach your writers to take their own pics and use social media tools.
This should be obvious but I think it should be mentioned.
Dream Seven: People you should hire.
Obviously, all the people and groups I mentioned for the visual side in Dream Two would be nice. But just a list off the top of my head: Juan Cole, Matt Taibbi (he likes writing about sports apparently...) Jane Hamsher, Naomi Klein, anyone who wants to write at the Center of Constitutional Rights...Doug Henwood, Dean Baker, Amy Goodman, David Dayen, Yves Smith, Chris Hayes, that hot Occupy Wall Street chick that only a Chris Hayes would bring to television, a few people from Russia Today because where else would they go...I would recommend myself as well if you would like to hire an African American. (I would love to review books, or mop up, anything to help that enterprise...) Your token conservative should be Tim Carney because he at least recognizes that the Democrats are bought off as well and aren't socialist commies.
Dream Eight: Lose the MSM racist reporting about proles, car wrecks, one sided foreign policy coverage etc...
I would like to think that this is the kind of national press that would make the Alan Grayson hearing interviewing drone strike victims major news.
Dream Nine: Lose the objectivity model.
I read that New York Times debate. I feel safe. You should be able to represent any position you want but you should verify, verify and verify some more.
Dream Ten: Don't be afraid to take over the world.
This new press venture, which could be thrilling and interesting, could crush the dinosaur print media. I say let them die. The country is in the bad shape it's in partly because of the relentless mediocrity of the print media. Let it be replaced by your venture and not by Fox News. And good luck.
Not Related: Still mad at Gidas Flowers.