The progressive media sector has suffered a few sharp blows in recent weeks. On Jan. 21, Air America Media unceremoniously folded, citing a "perfect storm" in the media industry. Just a few days later, a survey from Public Policy Polling revealed Fox News to be the most trusted television news source -- echoing Fox's continued ratings domination over CNN and MSNBC. Even old "crash the gates" Markos challenged progressive media's power to influence Democrats or inspire newly disillusioned voters in a recent blog post. "Our media machine is tiny," he wrote.
Scrawled and stapled, filled with rough-edged collages and BLARING CAPS, often achingly, embarrassingly personal, zines hardly seem like the founding documents of a movement. But, in the first book-length treatment of this topic, Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism, Alison Piepmeier argues that zines played a signature role in the development of third-wave feminism. "These hopeful interventions are not identical to traditional modes of doing politics," she writes, "but they are political nonetheless, because they are drawing attention to what's wrong with the world, awakening their readers' outrage, and providing tools for challenging existing power structures."
How can we imagine a public-media network, which not only offers citizens news, information and culture but directly connects them to one another and stimulates debate? We asked four experts in journalism and media policy to help us brainstorm how this might work. An abridged version of their discussion appears below.
Organizers and volunteers at the Twitter Vote Report project have spent the last few weeks furiously hacking together a real-time reporting system for tracking problems at the polls. By the time the Web site, twittervotereport.com launched last Wednesday, text messages from early voters were already filtering in. Here's one from Michigan:
"My #early #votereport - absentee ballots in #48823 require extra postage. Don't let a $0.15 slipup keep your voice from being heard!"