By Tony Palmeri
from the March, 2005 issue of The Valley Scene
If you're reading Media Rants, you're probably a news junkie. If you're a news junkie, you're probably overwhelmed with too much information. If you're overwhelmed with too much information, you're probably not in need of more.
On the other hand, if you are like me you find it helpful to consult sources that help make sense of the information, frame it in useful ways for concerned citizens, and keep you in touch with viewpoints from all sides of the political spectrum. If you are that kind of news junkie, here are ten worthy websites for you to bookmark:
|*Democracy Now! (www.democracynow.org). Pacifica Radio's Amy Goodman is the most valuable player in American journalism. Period. The integrity, breadth, and depth of a DN broadcast represents a conscientious contrast to the shameful sensationalism of the mainstream corporate press. Operating on a limited budget and supported by a small staff, Goodman produces prototype citizen journalism that tugs at one's conscience at the same time it empowers the listener with tools necessary to work for social and economic justice.|
|*Counterpunch (www.counterpunch.org). Counterpunchers Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair are first-rate crap detectors and investigative journalists in the tradition of I.F. Stone and George Seldes. No subject is taboo for a true counterpuncher, while Cockburn and St. Clair denounce whining liberal "Kerrycrats" as fervently as they demolish right wing ding-a-lings.|
|*The Drudge Report (www.drudgereport.com). At one level Matt Drudge is little more than a right-leaning gossip columnist with a knack for writing sensational headlines. But he is also adept at scooping the mainstream press on major stories, and for that reason alone is worth checking out. Much to the chagrin of Bill Clinton, it was Drudge who broke the Lewinsky scandal after the mainstream press decided a presidential affair was too hot to handle.|
|*Common Dreams News Center (www.commondreams.org). Features the best political writings from pundits on the Left, in a format easy to access.|
|*Al Jazeera (http://english.aljazeera.net/). The fact that Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice, and their neocon minions despise Al Jazeera is enough reason to monitor the network. Far from being "anti-American," Al-Jazeera places Mideast politics in the context of the cultures and traditions of the region.|
|*Wall St. Journal's Opinion Journal (http://www.opinionjournal.com/). Probably the best window into the thinking of the beltway "establishment." The site provides daily commentary, most of it "conservative," that reveals the issue frames Republicrats are most comfortable with these days.|
|*Political Money Line (http://www.politicalmoneyline.com). Sadly, American politics these days can be explained in three words: Follow The Money. Political Money Line provides the most complete, accurate, and accessible database of who is giving what to whom. The site is the brainchild of Kent Cooper, Tony Raymond, and Kirk Irvin, campaign finance specialists with many years of experience in analyzing complex data. The site's user friendly search tools require only minimal effort to discover the top 50 campaign donors in your city, profiles of the finance reports of elected officials, PAC and lobbyist information, and much else. It is with good reason that the New York Times called Political Money Line, "The granddaddy of all independent campaign finance Web sites, and perhaps the most comprehensive."|
*The Center For Media And Democracy (http://www.prwatch.org/). No matter how well read and intelligent a person may be, the incessant inanity, tabloid trash, and daily dreck coming from the mainstream corporate press is enough to dumb down the best of us. CMD founders Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber have spent years exposing the ways in which corporate propaganda masquerades as news in America; their books Toxic Sludge is Good For You and Trust Us, We're Experts ought to be required reading in every Journalism program across the country. The Web site includes an expanding "Source Watch" that is a directory of "public relations firms, think thanks, industry-funded organizations and industry friendly experts that work to influence public opinion and public policy on behalf of corporations, government and special interests." They also provide a "spin of the day" exposing the influence of public relations' firms behind major stories in the news. It is impossible to leave this site without feeling shocked and appalled at the extent to which our "free" press has becoming nothing more than a mouthpiece for wealth and power.
|*FightingBob.Com (www.fightingbob.com). If Wisconsin's progressive tradition is destined to die, it will not leave without a fight. Ed Garvey will not allow it. FightingBob.Com is a space for all who believe that now more than ever we need LaFollette-like courage, candor, and incorruptibility to take on machine politics, powerful special interest control of our legislature, and the lapdog mainstream press. When inaugurating the site in February of 2003, Garvey wrote, "We must demand the return of small 'd' democracy at all levels of government." To become part of the struggle, click the "People's Legislature" link on the FightingBob site.|
|*TonyPalmeri.Com (www.tonypalmeri.com). Please forgive the shameless self-promotion. My website is influenced in some way by all of the others mentioned in this column. It provides a mix of local, state, national, and international news, links to sites, and some original writings. One can't truly be a news junkie without contributing some junk to the mix, right?|
Email me at email@example.com and let me know what sites you enjoy.
Tony Palmeri (www.tonypalmeri.com)
is an associate professor of communication at UW Oshkosh.