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AlterNet carries two stories on Progressive Media and Media Reform on their site today.  Our own Markos is quoted in the first with kudos to the on-line progressive community for the quick take down of Ben Domenech.

I don't have a lot of time, so I'll just give you some quick quotes from both and the links so you can check them out below the fold.

From: New Progress for Progressive Media by Don Hazen

When the Washington Post recently announced the hiring of right-wing Republican operative Ben Domenech to blog on the Post website, it was literally a matter of hours before an avalanche of negative information regarding Domenech's bigotry and plagiarism was uncovered and widely distributed by a team of progressive bloggers. Domenech, ostensibly brought in to provide "balance" to watch-dog columnist Dan Froomkin, quickly resigned. Chalk up another progressive blogger victory in the rough-and-tumble world of media politics


There are many more such examples that showcase the newfound muscle in progressive media in the Bush era. The dynamics have changed. A fresh breed of smart, relentless media operatives, using the internet in creative ways, have put new pop into progressive media.

But alas, that is not the full story. As Rick Gell points out in his accompanying article, while progressives have certainly made progress, it does not yet equal success. There is a giant hole in the TV world, where progressives are virtually invisible and donors seem unable or unwilling to do battle in the commercial world of advertising and investments. Much of progressive media remains "alternative" media, speaking mostly to its secure audience while some of its political clout is hindered by the legal limits of most organizations' nonprofit status.

So there is much to be encouraged by, and much to contemplate. But no matter how the challenge of progressive media gets weighed or examined, a serious investment of capital and chutzpah is necessary if progressive media is going to provide the counter balance to the right-wing media machine that will be revved up for fall elections in 2008 and beyond.


The newfound kick-ass, in-your-face attitude exhibited by emerging progressive media is an important development and a cause for celebration. Using blogs, talk radio, new models of content distribution and a tenacious rapid-response media watch capacity, progressives are scratching back with new ferocity.

The new phenomenon of progressive talk radio has begun to gradually loosen the media stranglehold the Republicans have on Washington. Democrats who make guest appearances on Air America Radio seem to develop more spine in the process. The A-list political blogs, led by The Daily Kos, My DD, and a dozen or so other established blogs, have been strengthened considerably by blog upstarts like FireDogLake , and the highly trafficked video blog, Crooks and Liars . Meanwhile the Huffington Post, initially met with scads of skepticism, has catapulted over much of the blogosphere, becoming the fourth most-linked-to blog in the world.

These success stories all point to a brighter future if -- and this is a big if -- these efforts, and particularly more commercial ones aimed at TV, can be financially supported in a serious way. Interestingly, a number of the big successes in the blogosphere are self-supporting via advertising, while some, like The Huffington Post, have investors, meaning they have no need for grants and are unhampered by IRS laws that require nonprofits to be nonpartisan. But the rest of the progressive media needs a significant, long-term, reliable commitment of resources.


Recently, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas specifically addressed funders, emphasizing the need for "smart" money to build the necessary progressive infrastructure.

"We're lacking the idea factories and the noise machine," he said. "Funding patterns need to change. When financial investors are thinking about the future, they don't go to IBM to see what the next new thing is; they look in garages in Redwood City. Google is busy buying start-ups. We need outside-of-the-box thinking." The gist of the Markos message is a wake up call -- hoping that the big donor community will start acting like venture capitalists instead of conservative big cap stock investors, and spread some money around.

Thre is a lot more... about the need for big $ progressives to step up and help us fund progressive media but this is already long so0 click on the title and read...

The second article is: Taking Media Progress Even Further by Rick Gell

And market penetration is always slower than we think. Thirty years later, and the top ten cable shows average between two and four million viewers; those numbers would translate to instant cancellation on ABC, CBS and NBC.

It's the mainstream media, stupid. Mostly it's TV. Swift Boating was a TV phenomenon, accomplished primarily on broadcast and cable news programs. We are being lulled into a false sense of accomplishment because mainstream news media has supposedly "awakened" to Iraq and Katrina -- as if they could ignore dead bodies floating past the camera in an American city. But Katrina was apolitical, and didn't require a stand on any issue other than incompetence. Bush and company have so thoroughly fouled up Iraq, not to mention their falsified claims to start the war, that it is easy to think that things have turned around.

But rest assured, the same defeatism that feeds our media strategy will have us firmly in our role as "Linus" -- having the football pulled out from under us, once again -- in '08. We will be shocked when the mainstream media fawns all over "straight-talkin'" McCain and his tough as nails, 9/11 superhero VP Rudy Giuliani.  In my opinion, Hillary will be eaten alive with under-the-radar attacks on personal vulnerabilities, as well as the  basic misogyny embedded in corporate media and its advertisers. Just watch.

Unless progressives wake up and face hard truths about media -- and the money, strategy and tactics it will take -- we will continue to win battles and lose the war. Progressives have essentially given up on center stage -- broadcast and cable news  -- and stayed in the comfortable terrain of  alternative media, given up on leveraging our "buying power" and mostly come to believe that the non-profit road is the only road to editorial integrity.


Progressive investors, hardest to criticize because they do so much, are loath to change directions and fund media -- even though they know that GE, Viacom and News Corp. are crushing the things they believe in and spend tens of millions on.   There is plenty of dough among wealthy liberals  -- billions -- and yet we prefer to blame Rupert.  Much of the political funding for media spending  takes place in back rooms and in secret because the same progressive press that should be shining a light, is begging for cash.

How long are liberals going to let Maytag advertise on right wing Michael Savage's radio show, and shun Air America -- without doing anything? We wash our clothes too.

In the cause of full disclosure, for the past year I have been pitching a weekly progressive newsmagazine show for cable with a former cable-news president on board as Executive Producer. In a country evenly split between red and blue, with 168 hours of very profitable Fox News programming on cable each week, this should be a no-brainer. But I can't get to first base.

Originally posted to SarahLee on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 01:08 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Mojo Collector (9+ / 0-)

    Depressed after doing taxes and seeing how little I really made, I'm collecting mojo to get around the need for anti-depressants.

  •  Thanks for the links. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, kraant

    Good stuff.

  •  Interesting articles (1+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:

    Except I really don't find much about DKos "progressive".  It is all about the Democrat Party, but progressive?  Not so much.

    When I think of progressive I think of someone who fights for issues and causes, who fights for reforms, who fights for the common person, regardless of who is in power.

    On DailyKos, all you see/hear about is how the Democrats need to win elections -- more often at the detriment of the issues and values for which they claim they are fighting!  Hell...most of the people on this site don't even care if the candidate is progressive or not!  They'll vote for them just because they have a (D) after their name.

    "You have your thoughts and I have mine. This is the fact and you can't change it even if you kill me."— Ba Jin

    by Robb Black on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 01:23:37 PM PDT

    •  Baby steps (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      First you have to gain control of the levers in order to run the machine. Being pure is great, but being pure and having zero effect on the country's running is the exact position we've been in for 6 years now. Would you like to continue that?

      I know that this is vitriol. No solution, spleen-venting. But I feel better having screamed. Don't you?

      by Anderson Republican on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 01:33:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is what the Democrats have been preaching (2+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        SarahLee, kraant
        Hidden by:

        And where has it gotten them?


        You have to give people a reason to vote for you.

        Begging people to vote for you because you are not as bad as the other people doesn't really work for most voters.

        Not to mention, if you don't elect progressive candidates, then how are you going to get progressive legislation.  I've seen this time and time again.  A Democrat runs to middle to win the election promising people that they have to do that in order to get hold of the levers of power, but they swear that once they get hold, they'll suddenly change their stripes and be the progressive everyone wants them to be.  Guess what?  That whole changing your ideas after grabbing hold of the levers of power...doesn't happen.  Never does.  Never will.

        When will progressive Democrats, learn their lesson?

        "You have your thoughts and I have mine. This is the fact and you can't change it even if you kill me."— Ba Jin

        by Robb Black on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 01:41:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •   to be fair, what's going on here... (0+ / 0-)

       is (so far) an open debate--and a vital and indispensible one--about what the Democratic party ought to look like, be, fight for, etc.

       Yes, I agree with you that there are significant numbers of people here who seem ready to simply say, in effect, 'I don't care, as long as s/he's a Democrat!'.  That view, though I disapprove, is their right to argue and promote.

       Unlike like them, I agree with you that electing Democrats, and that alone, is far, far from sufficient or, in my view, even satisfactory.

       They argue that to gain support and woo others to vote for Democrats, there has to be some compromise over which a "meeting of the minds" is possible, and, while that is true to an extent, it's also true that a "meeting of empty minds is not much use nor much worth the effort to achieve.

      Still, the debate here is an open one and, for that reason, a very valuable thing.  I know of no other place where ordinary Americans can voice their opinions with a real chance of these being actually noticed by people in places of power.

       The New York Times and the Washington Post will not publish a critical letter from me, stating how this, that or the other article of theirs is full of error, unfair, etc. --because, typically, they insist that my 600-word letter in response to a 1500-word article is too long.

       Well, the mainstream press can now find that the replies they won't publish in their own pages have a place in sites such as this one where they can and shall be read.

       The importance of that can hardly be overstated, and don't imagine that WaPo and NYTimes editors have not taken notice.


  •  Freedom of Speech on the Internet (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, kraant

    The success highlighted in this post leads me to make the following gloomy prediction:

    Mark my words, as the rest of this nation wakes up and finds the powerful current of free thought ripping through the Internet; and begins to take part in the instantaneous ability to share ideas with random strangers, the Dark Overlords will try to take the net down, by whatever means possible.

    To the demagogues who have taken control over the flow of news, thought and information, the Internet represents a massive hole in the dam, which is rapidly growing by the second.

    As many of us are already too aware, Censorship technology has already been pioneered and utilized in other countrys.... with the help of Corporate America. As the net continues to spawn new forms of activism and new ways for voicing dissent (and discontent), new ways to sway opinion and change political outcomes, the big boys will try to wrestle control of it. (They already are, are they not?) And if they are clever enough, they'll get away with it and most Americans won't even realize it... until its too late.

    Damn, I'm pessimistic today.

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