Out with the old – in with the new: as the mainstream corporate media is being lowered into its grave, a vibrant new citizens’ media has been rising to take its place. Web-based news and commentary programs are now providing quality, hard-hitting journalism in the tradition of Edward Murrow and Walter Cronkite, rapidly replacing the corporate BS known as “infotainment.”
One of the pioneers of the new Progressive media was featured recently in the UK Independent. Cenk Uygur, host and founder of The Young Turks, got started in 2002. Today, his nightly program has racked up 2 billion views on YouTube and according to Uygur, commands an audience of 75 million.
The rise of alternative Progressive media is an inevitable backlash to radio and television news that for years has been heavily slanted toward conservative, right-wing news – when it bothers to present news at all. Between the demise of the Fairness Doctrine, and the corporate takeover of the airwaves, there was little to no room for any dissenting voices. Many may still remember Air America, a noble – but ultimately doomed – attempt to provide a platform for progressive alternatives to Limbaugh and Hannity. Between 2004 and 2010, Air America was the radio home of Thom Hartmann, Ed Schulz, Randi Rhoades, Sam Seder and Ring of Fire, among many others.
The causes of Air America’s demise were documented in a 2010 story published in the New York Daily News. Although Air America itself was ultimately a failure, it proved that there was an audience for liberal talk radio. It was out of the ashes of Air America that the new, Web and social media-based Progressive media was born. Newer and better Web-streaming technologies and platforms such as YouTube have enabled Progressive and liberal voices to mount a serious challenge to the mainstream corporate media – which, as a result, is quickly going out of business.
Taking their cues from Cenk Uygur’s success, many former Air America shows (such as Hartmann, Schultz, Seder and Ring of Fire) have made the move to the World Wide Web. The Internet is proving to be the most open and democratic media platform ever developed – much to the chagrin of Comcast and other dying corporate media giants. Those companies have been doing their level best to silence Progressive voices, by changing formats, closing radio stations, and even firing popular hosts who won’t tow the corporate line. In the end, it doesn’t work; those voices have simply moved to the Web, promoted by fans on social media sites – and attracting increasing numbers of listeners who are abandoning the airwaves for Internet-based news outlets.
The rise of Progressive media has proven two things: (1) there is a huge and growing audience for Progressive news and analysis, and (2) when the game isn’t rigged, the free market system works amazingly well. A business that gives people what they want is a thriving business.
It’s a lesson that Fox has failed to grasp – and that MSNBC, CNN and others are quickly forgetting.