We put a lot of trust into the mainstream press. We’ve been told to believe that newspapers and major media companies are reliable sources that remain unbiased and determined to tell the truth. Unfortunately, the mainstream corporations are not what they say they are, but far too many American citizens are quick to believe their lies. After all, why would we want to look further into a subject when all the “facts” are right there on the front page of the newspaper?
Though once intended to keep the government in check and reveal the harsh truths of reality for the benefit of the people, mainstream press has become just another front for corrupt officials to spread the propaganda they deem important. Right before (and during) the war in Iraq, major news outlets disseminated false information fed directly to them from the government, which was of course pro-war. The American people were bombarded with false information that Saddam Hussein had connections with Al Qaeda and possessed weapons of mass destruction. “Most major news organizations reported the buildup toward war without adequate skepticism or scrutiny” (Stehle, Paragraph 2). Nation-wide panic is the easiest way for our leaders to control us and make us believe anything. We are natural-born followers, after all~ look where we are now.
The dissident press, however, strives to tell the truth (the actual truth, not the truths we are spoon-fed by our nation’s leaders). Unlike mainstream media, independent publications are not bound by governmental ties and political affiliations; nothing stands in the way of the facts. Organizations like Mother Jones and Democracy Now are dedicated to “raise vital issues like war and peace and wealth and poverty in ways that reflect the public interest” (Stehle, Paragraph 3). While a vast population of our society is blinded by mainstream media, more and more people are going to independent organizations such as these. In 2005, 60 of these progressive businesses came together to form the Media Consortium. Not afraid to approach the tougher issues, they worked together “to harness public attention to the major policy debates of our time by raising issues of economic justice, human rights, and progressive perspectives in national-security debates” (Stehle, Paragraph 7).
These outlets are the ones who, for example, exposed Romney’s infamous quote about the 47 percent (Mother Jones) and brought the to attention of the public eye the plight of the 99 percent. These are issues the mainstream press largely ignored, but were still heard by the majority of Americans. “Individually and collectively, progressive and independent media organizations are having an increasing impact on the media landscape” (Stehle, Paragraph 9).
It’s a little frightening to know that so many people are mindless sheep, taking in everything they see and hear without question or criticism. Where is our curiosity? Our thirst for knowledge? Free thinkers are rare, for some unknown reason, but luckily, we have independent outlets to lead by example and show us that it’s okay to form our own opinions. Somewhere along the line, we got so caught up in appeasing others that we lost our spark for individuality. Dissident press allows us to see only the facts, not getting caught up in allegiance to political parties or advertisers. Publisher André Schiffrin declared “nonprofit news-media outlets are so influential, they ‘are now playing the classic role of fourth estate in our democracy'” (Stehle, Paragraph 17). Funny, isn’t that why the media was first created?
Hopefully this trend of growing independent media will continue. We cannot allow the government to maintain absolute rule over our society. More often than not, government does more harm than good. We’ve been catapulted into wars and financial hardships due to the selfishness of our leaders, and it’s time to start questioning why things are the way they are. Seeing something doesn’t make it true; we can no longer believe our eyes or our ears. We should all look to progressive outlets, like those of the Media Consortium, for the truth about our world~ they are the ones who question the status quo as we all should. “Going forward, when American policy makers and politicians are tempted to embark on unjustified wars, they can expect a more vigorous nonprofit press to provide more critical scrutiny than Washington reporters provided a decade ago. And, let us hope, thousands of lives—and the health of our democracy—will be spared” (Stehle, Paragraph 18).
For more information, see Vincent Stehle’s article: “How a Misguided War Led to a Powerful Nonprofit Partnership.”