April 1, 2010 This article appeared in the April 19, 2010 edition of The Nation.
This monthly feature was conceived by writer and Nation editorial board member Walter Mosley as a kind of do-it-yourself opinion and action device. Most often "Ten Things" will offer a brief list of recommendations for accomplishing a desired political or social end, sometimes bringing to light something generally unknown. The purpose of the feature is to go to the heart of issues in a stripped-down, active and informed way. After getting our visiting expert--or everyday citizen--to construct the list, we will interview that person and post a brief online version of "Ten Things," with links to relevant websites, books or other information. Readers who wish to propose ideas for "Ten Things" should e-mail us at NationTenThings@gmail.com or use the e-form at the bottom of this page.
What's wrong with this picture? Air America vanishes into the ether, while Glenn Beck indoctrinates 2.7 million daily viewers with his histrionic brand of right-wing lunacy. Independent news agencies must continuously solicit donations from readers to stay afloat, while hate-filled shock jock Rush Limbaugh makes $50 million a year.
On the other hand, there's still a lot of great progressive media on the airwaves, including Democracy Now!, which airs on more than 800 TV and radio stations worldwide, along with radio shows by Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller. The Nation and TheNation.com are part of a progressive journalistic community that is challenging the right in every medium. ZP Heller, a writer (HuffPo, OpenLeft, AlterNet) who is working on a novel lampooning corporate media, lists ten steps you can take to help keep progressive journalism alive:
1 Check it. Media Matters and Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) have been dogged in holding Fox News accountable for spewing gross misinformation on a near daily basis. Get the facts about how Fox's right-wing agenda still oozes on the air, even when Beck, O'Reilly and Hannity aren't on-screen. Go to mediamatters.org and fair.org.
2 Read it. AlterNet just underwent a major overhaul, with renewed emphasis on hard-hitting content and investigative reporting. The site also features a Progressive News Wire, which sifts through more than two dozen sources. And AlterNet encourages readers to play a more active role, either by contributing to SoapBox, user-generated blogs that post directly to the homepage, or in its Take Action section.
3 Watch it. Former Air America host and current Nation contributor Laura Flanders brings the heat with her free daily show, GRITtv, as does Cenk Uygur on The Young Turks. And Brave New Films just released the groundbreaking documentary Rethink Afghanistan. Get a DVD and host a screening for people in your community.
4 Post it. Facebook just passed Google as the most visited US website, which means friends' recommendations can be a huge force in effecting social change. So use your Facebook and Twitter accounts to post that riveting article you just finished and spark dialogue and action on the issues.
5 Click it. Even when you can't make a financial donation to your favorite site, you can still help it thrive by posting or voting for a story on Digg, StumbleUpon, Mixx, Reddit, BuzzFlash and Delicious. Not only will helping a story go viral garner attention for a progressive issue; it will also improve the odds of a news outlet successfully approaching larger donors. Go here for an explanation of how they work.
6 Sign it. After you're done reading and clicking, take action by signing petitions, which have become an effective means of rallying support for good causes. Many progressive sites, like ColorOfChange.org encourage readers to take easy steps like this because online petitions have become an effective means of rallying support for good causes..
7 Tweet it. With Act.ly you can use Twitter to take action. This viral tool, developed by activists Jim Gilliam and Jesse Haff, enables users to create and sign petitions by tweeting. Unlike with other online petitions, the target of your Act.ly petition will see the signatures pile up in real time via Twitter, which makes them difficult to ignore. These petitions have already prompted replies from such big names as Microsoft's Bing, Google and Rick Warren. Some of the petitions currently on fire were created by American Rights at Work, Governor Mike Huckabee, and PETA.
8 Change it. Firedoglake is using its influence in the blogosphere to fire up readers. In its inaugural round of voting, FDL selected Representatives Dennis Kucinich, Alan Grayson and Anthony Weiner as its top three Fire Dogs, for whom the site is raising $10,000 and identifying 500 voters apiece for GOTV activities.
9 Say it in español. Brave New Foundation recently launched Cuéntame, a bilingual Facebook project dedicated to discussing and raising awareness on issues affecting the Latino community. Watch the introductory video and join the bilingual discussion on Facebook.
10 Enjoy it. After reading, posting, clicking and signing, kick back with The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. These endlessly entertaining shows have their fingers on the pulse of the progressive community, and unlike the hosts of other news shows, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert aren't afraid to confront politicians and corporate media alike.
CONCEIVED by WALTER MOSLEY with research by Rae Gomes