Contemplating the Progressive and Alternative

  • Contemplating the Progressive and Alternative Media:
    Andrea Buffa, of the Media Alliance, has written a nice article attempting to formulate a way to assess the progressive media, entitled “National Progressive Media: Who’s Left?” She explores the important point that the traditional media assessment tool of audience size is not necessarily useful or consistent for evaluating the impact of progressive media outlets, while looking forward at ideas and efforts, like the exploding Independent Media Center movement, that show promise for growing the reach and influence of progressive media.
    Buffa quotes Don Hazen, a former editor at Mother Jones magazine and now director of the Independent Media Institute, who expresses the concern “that people who read The Nation and listen to Pacifica Radio stations like KPFA believe that the action of consuming progressive media in and of itself constitutes political activism.” After being involved in community radio for seven years this same thing has worried me. In the myriad battles that happen in volunteer stations over the programming that gets aired, inevitably some argument arises over the merits of music vs. news/public affairs programming. Listeners and volunteers alike are able to passionately advocate for either (or both), but often I’ve found myself wondering what purpose the alternative news and information serves in many folks’ lives. In many cases they cling almost desperately to this conduit, but at the same time I find it difficult to see how they put that information to use. As Hazen observes, it seems as if listening to the news becomes the end in itself–that simply knowing is a comfort.
    Certainly, I do not wish to denigrate the power and importance of having information and news — these are issues central to my own efforts. But it’s also critical to remember that news and information are damn near useless if they don’t somehow inform action. You are nonetheless a consumer when you consume alternative or progressive media. That state and relationship doesn’t change until you do something about it.

  • Posted





    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *