My top ten dreams for the new Glenn Greenwald/Pierre Omidyar/Laura Poitras/Jeremy Scahill online paper.
As you may or may not have known if you’re not a press watcher, the most exciting story in the world over the last year or so is the Edward Snowden story. Those stories were published by the US Guardian (important because we have a first amendment here…) and written by Glenn Greenwald. The stories are spectacular and stunning in their scope and even feature exotic locations like Hong Kong, Hawaii and the Soviet Union. Should make for a smashing film. What it may also have sparked is the creation of a brand new and much needed adversarial American Press. Ebay/Paypal billionaire Pierre Omidyar and the Guardian Journalist Glenn Greenwald are trying to create a new kind of press even as we speak. And it’s real money. A talked about $250 million dollars. Real money.
As people like to spend the money of Bill Gates in our imagination (such as fully funding my viable third party plan or creating a truly non profit health insurer that would put for profit insurers out of business thus creating single payer or the old Blue Cross Blue Shield…my dream.), I would love to spend Pierre’s and Glenn’s $250 million dollars mentally like Professor X in order to create a much needed Real American Press, that’s not owned by the same people who own the politicians.
First, let us look again at the Chomsky/Hermann Propaganda Model: If you want to know why your local press sucks then this is the first essay that you should read. But here are the 5 rules as to why your local paper probably isn’t very good. From Wikipedia:
One local example would be the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, which is owned by a right wing billionaire. You could argue that Richard Mellon Scaife, a right wing conservative banking heir, uses all five rules to produce a paper to push elite interests and to especially keep working class whites clueless about who the real moochers are in society. You’ll never see an editorial asking for a return to Glass Steagall but if a poor black person shoots another poor black person then, hey, that’s “The News”. But the truth is that the “liberal” paper, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, isn’t much better as the center left paper because they’re bound and strangled by the objectivity standard. They can’t call things as they are and their owners are probably Center Right the great Tony Norman notwithstanding. The PG is the ineffective CNN to our world’s Fox News. (Read 2 Political Junkies for more on how hypocritical The Tribune Review often is.)
If Pierre follows through, and if his car doesn’t mysteriously and completely accidently erupt into flames (Or commit suicide, or commit suicide, or targeted by drone…you get the idea and maybe journalists are right to be cowardly less Good King Joffrey cut off your tongue or your fingers …), he could trump all five rules. You might even see the Palestinian point of view mentioned in a positive light may miracles never cease. I would certainly hope that Omidyar, who looks to be slightly brown skinned and is reportedly of Iranian descent, would run a press that would be highly critical of plans to turn Iran into a cinder, the positions of Netanyahu or Diane Feinstein’s subsequent applause of such nuking notwithstanding.
But he has to build an institution that can sell that vision. Here are the ten rules, early draft as I’m going to write a fuller piece later on, that I hope he tries in order to create a democratic press.
Dream One: Emulate the Guardian’s Board and Trust Fund
You might wonder why American press outlets didn’t hire Glenn Greenwald or even if they had would they have run his stories. Doubtful. Or they would have been weakened and denuded by the “objectivity” standard. The trust fund allowed the Guardian to actually pursue real journalism. And the board, being that is filled with people that like journalism and not just trust fund kids (presumably), allowed that Edward Snowden story to thrive. What’s best, they don’t have to invest in money losing print although they might take a look at Sunday papers because those are pretty profitable. If you spend no more than 25 million per year, then that sum could last a good 10 years without that sum running out. It’s clear from the very authoritative and informative piece written by Ken Auletta that a strong independent board can do a lot of good. By the way, assuming a board of 12 but it could be any number, that board could and should include: Ralph Nader, Mike Moore, Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein, Jane Hamsher, Yves Smith, Dean Baker, Jim Hightower, and hey I’ll be the token African American. I’m qualified oddly enough…
Dream Two: Create a visual component and market yourselves to Netflix/Hulu/Create your own brand.
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