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

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 alt.news-media 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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