All The News Not Fit to Print: Media critics on the Net

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With minimal resources and furious passion, progressive media critics subvert the ideological power of the mainstream news by offering missing information, viewpoints, and analyses that would otherwise go unsaid. Too often, though, their ideas are relegated to the margins of the magazine rack or the radio dial, and rarely are such critics invited to comment on television talk shows or news broadcasts.

The Internet could change all that. Media watch groups large and small have set up distribution points on-line, thereby broadening their reach and influence. Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, a professional organization devoted to monitoring biases and omissions in the news, has a Web site chock full of resources. Some items you'll find there include back issues of FAIR's magazine Extra!, selected transcripts from its radio show 'Counterspin,' and about a dozen 'Media Beat' columns by syndicated newspaper columnists Jeff Cohen and Normon Solomon.

Project Censored, a site maintained by Sonoma State Journalism Professor Carl Jensen and his team of news watchdogs, is another excellent online resource especially notable for its full-text versions of the 'Top Censored Stories' overlooked by the mainstream news media. Interestingly enough, many of the stories in the collection, which dates back to 1984, were first published in the alternative press.

For a general theory of the media as a form of propaganda, we'd recommend the Noam Chomsky Archive, Interactive Service and Political Commons, an amazing site that does double billing as a source of information and political analysis and features a real-time chat. Those seeking homegrown, iconoclastic media criticism should check out Media Watchdog, a link-rich site billing itself as a 'collection of on-line media criticism resources.' Some of the links are gems, but be prepared for a few deadends. And if you have some ideas about how the news covers the O.J. trial, Bill Clinton, welfare policy, or another topic, the newsgroup is a place to vent steam and share your views with like-minded folks all over the globe.

We've saved the best media criticism site for last. In his satirical comic strip 'This Modern World,' cartoonist Tom Tomorrow proves time and again that American's news institutions can be a constant source of amusement. Many of his best satires are now collected on-line on the Tom Tomorrow home page.

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