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The Future of News is the Future of Civilization

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 — BusinessInsider recently invited the Editor of this paper to be one of a group of “thought leaders describing their vision of the future of news.”

Here is his response, followed by some elaboration. (The alleged Editor of the Gazette, and Glenn Beck: together at last. Who’d a’ thunk it?)

The future of news is the future of civilization.

Current media practices distort the democratic process in ways that favor those who are already far too powerful, as the recent debt ceiling imbroglio amply demonstrates.

Humans distracted by the newest technologies tend to overlook powerful mature technologies; low-cost web offset printing is more accessible than ever thanks to cheap digital tools.

Every U.S. Congressional district should — and can — have its own concise, independent, and free weekly tabloid, beholden to that district’s constituents rather than their corporate overlords.

Begging the corporate media to reform has not worked yet, and there is no reason to expect that it ever will.

We propose a different approach: creating a new class of newspapers, small, cheap, and out of corporate control. If this approach is pursued aggressively, we think it could result in a 113th Congress that is nothing like the 112th.

That is colossally big talk from such a miniscule operation, but we know what we’ve done, and we believe others could do the same. More, in fact.

Over the course of the last twelve years we have produced and distributed 320 issues of our paper, with a cumulative press run of about 1,600,000 copies. We accept paid subscriptions, but we give the paper away free at about 160 locations spread over 200 square miles.

Though our geographic range is small, we have developed an intensely loyal readership. And even with our limited distribution, we have had some success nationally. We’ll lay claim to focusing national attention on the prevalence of chickenhawks in the George W. Bush administration, and the banking favors done for the Nazis by his grandfather, Prescott Bush.

Call us naive, but we believe that Lincoln was right about the United States being the last best hope of Earth. Call us crazy, but we think there is an argument to be made for American exceptionalism. Or, call us cynical: we think Ron Dellums nailed it when he said we had a government “of the people, by the powerful, for the rich.”

That will not change while the media landscape stays the same. It has to be changed, and we the people are the ones who have to change it. Fortunately, we have the technology.

We haven’t got enough staff to run this site as a full-blown news source. What we can do with it, though, is answer questions about how to organize, produce, and distribute newspapers on this model.

So, comment away …

Comments

Comment from Marvin Gardens
Time: August 10, 2011, 14:41

” … we have had some success nationally. We’ll lay claim to focusing national attention on the prevalence of chickenhawks in the George W. Bush administration, and the banking favors done for the Nazis by his grandfather, Prescott Bush.”

If you define “some success” as “no appreciable impact” and “focusing national attention” as “a few emails,” you are correct. Take a bow. Maybe someone will notice.

Comment from Lester LeViness
Time: August 10, 2011, 16:48

You are so right, Marvin! You sound like a monopolist, my kind of guy. What the world REALLY needs is more Rupert Murdochs. I am being facetious; I would trade ONE Fortnightly Rant for ALL the Fox “news” reporters spewing their RIGHTeous inanities. It occurs to me that there the fare is unbalanced.
Are you REALLY arguing for the status quo in media reporting? Where a handful of corporations control the flow of “information”? Incomprehensible!
If that is the case, let us hear it for even the tiniest, informative diversity.

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