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Media moan-opolies 

Best Way to Counteract Media Monopolization
Use the Internet

It should come as no surprise that MT’s readers are an astute group when it comes to issues regarding mass media. The fact that they pick up this rag shows their interest in obtaining alternative points of view. Hell, I can’t even disagree with them for ranking the alternative press a middling third choice as a strategy for beating media monopolies. Papers like this have become increasingly consolidated in recent years (we call the folks at a daily in Scranton, Pa., boss these days) so even the alties ain’t the independent voices they used to be. And ranking the Web number one is absolutely spot-on. No matter how much the big boys at AOL Time Warner muscle in on the action, it doesn’t seem possible that they will ever be able to squeeze out those offering an alternative to the mainstream. I see it every day. When I wanted to hook up with demonstrators going to D.C. to protest Bush’s inauguration, the Internet connected me with local contacts in a matter of minutes. Countless messages are posted on the enviro-mich listserve, offering informed critiques of the state’s environmental policies. There’re also timely comments and source contacts from groups such as the Institute for Public Accuracy (www.accuracy.org) which, in its own words, is a “nationwide consortium of policy researchers” who seek “to broaden public discourse by gaining media access for those whose perspectives are commonly drowned out by corporate-backed think tanks and other influential institutions.” The BuzzFlash Report (www.buzzflash.org) provides an antidote to Drudge by offering timely links to articles with a progressive bent. Salon (www.salon.com) offers a daily dose of wide-ranging, fiercely independent reporting and essays. And then there’s TomPaine (www.tompaine.com), which “seeks to enrich the national debate on controversial public issues by featuring the ideas, opinions, and analyses too often overlooked by the mainstream media.” A group called Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (www.fair.org) offers up “well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship.” The Utne Reader (www.utne.com) daily e-mails highlighting selected articles from all sorts of alternative publications. The list goes on and on. So, to paraphrase the late Timothy Leary (who’s still inhabiting cyberspace at www.leary.com), turn on your computer, tune in your search engine (www.dogpile.com is my favorite) and drop out of the monopolies.

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