New Media Heroes

Alternet honors 10 activists and journalists working to make the Internet something more than a corporate tool

| May-June 2001

AlterNet, a San Francisco–based news service that created the Media Heroes Awards to honor journalists and producers bringing progressive views to the public, decided this year to single out the contributions of people working in the New Media. The AlterNet staff nominated 24 people for its New Media Heroes, and visitors to its Web site ( were invited to vote for the winners. The process, says AlterNet executive director Don Hazen, was “an opportunity to look around in this climate of dot-com failure and see what works online. These heroes reach more people with information that makes a difference in their lives faster than they ever could before the technology of the Internet.”

And the winners are, in order of vote totals:

Chip Giller, 

What's so funny about the environment? Not much, and for many would-be environmentalists, that's just the problem. “There are people out there who care deeply about the planet, but they're just so overwhelmed by all the problems we face that they shut down,” says Chip Giller, 30, founder and editor of the Seattle-based online environmental magazine Grist. “It's our job to get those people's attention again. We do that by making them laugh.”

For instance, Grist's feature about the world's disappearing croplands was titled “They Paved Plots of Rice and Put Up a Parking Lot.” For chuckle seekers, there's also a comic strip featuring an imaginary endangered species. “He's hoping he's not really the last of his kind,” Giller jokes. “He'd like a girlfriend.”

Giller promises to keep the laughs coming, but not at the expense of serious content. “Deep down, our intentions are serious,” he says, noting it's Grist's aim to showcase “some of the best environmental reporting out there.”