Independent media is a form of communication and reporting of news that’s independent of external control that biases the content in favour of an elite. Independent media is free from state control, corporate or billionaire ownership and corporate advertising. Its aim is to provide content that is a) factually accurate; b) not biased towards elite interests; and c) often not reported in the mainstream, corporate media because it’s not in the interest of the elite for the public to know it. There’s a wide range of independent media, from co-ops, to bloggers, community platforms, opinions and analysis, reportage – but the key thing is that they’re all independent of external control.
Choose your news sources wisely. Avoid the mainstream media, unless you’re after untrustworthy news and trivia, and don’t fall for for the few considered ‘the good guys’, like the billionaire-owned, mis-named ‘Independent’ newspaper, or the Guardian – funded by corporate advertising and owned by Scott Trust Ltd, registered in Bermuda so that they can avoid taxes, or the BBC, for the reasons outlined above.
As with anything worthwhile, finding reliable sources of information will take a little time, effort and maybe money (remember, if you’re not paying for it, someone else is – who doesn’t have your interests at heart). It’s too important not to really – being fed biased, untrue or selective information will mean that you’re not properly informed about the world.
Successful journalism, independent or not, requires skills and time that need to be recognised and paid for. As mentioned above, in the UK, there’s the New Internationalist, and US organisations like Democracy Now! and the Real News Network have had long-term success too.
In the UK there’s a lot of independent comment and analysis, including blogs, plus organisations like Novara Media, that give a spin to the news rather than reporting it, and also local organisations that produce news content, like the Bristol Cable, the Ferret in Scotland, Manchester’s Meteor etc. Do some research to find sources near you.
Then there are investigative organisations like Open Democracy, Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Centre for Investigative Journalism; a great news source is the Byline Times, or the more tabloid-like Canary, that does a lot of reportage. Independents, because they are smaller, often provide only one type of media, so to get a full picture, you have to build a portfolio of sources. See our links page to get started.
The Media Fund has a listing of media partners, and will soon be providing a regular round-up of news from independent sources. Bywire are also producing an app to provide access to all independent media in one place. We’ll keep you informed.
Here’s a tip: make yourself a little Twitter list (I know, corporate, but we’ll get there) of independent news sources, so that you’ll have a little independent news feed each day.
Around 80% of people now get their news from social media, most of which is also owned by tax-avoiding, data-mining global corporations, beholden only to their shareholders, not their users. To maximise profit, they use algorithms that give users only what they like, which denies users the range of opinions required to understand the world, and produces tsunamis of fake news and conspiracy theories, as well as extreme political division. The business model is based on the dopamine hit of shares, likes and comments, which brings people back and satisfies advertisers and data purchasers.
Providing independent social media is hard, because the giants are so ubiquitous. They have no effective global regulation, and they are almost impossible to compete against without huge amounts of money that independents don’t have. There are alternatives, like Social.coop, but membership would have to grow significantly to compete. Solutions may involve mutualising and democratising the giant platforms, or creating effective social media that doesn’t have to sit on a particular platform – we can then all interact with each other without requiring corporations as intermediaries.