Watching various actions of the Occupy movement go underreported, misreported and just plain unreported in the major news media all fall really made it clear to me how desperately and urgently we need better ways to get our news delivered. There are good alternative news sources for individual stories—Truthout, Alternet, The Daily Kos come to mind; The Nation is great for more in-depth analysis with a longer lead time; and National Public Radio has remained better than most. But there is currently no one reliable place to find all your news if you don’t want that news filtered through the interests of a major corporation before it gets to you.
This past summer I got involved with Newsmotion, an independent media startup that is proposing to fill the “reliable news” gap. This “collective of award-winning journalists and journalism thinkers” (as Harvard’s Nieman Lab describes it), includes—besides me—author and sociologist Todd Gitlin, Pulitzer Prize winner Dale Maharidge, artist and engineer Natalie Jeremijenko, new media professor Nitin Sawhney, photographer Alan Chin, war correspondent Elizabeth Rubin, filmmaker Laura Poitras, writer and producer Julian Rubinstein, and artist and activist Marisa Jahn, the executive director of the People’s Production House. They have been working with a team of developers from MIT to create internet-based tools that will enable them to present the news as it happens, in a three-column format that juxtaposes official government statements relevant to an unfolding story with both constantly-updated major media reports on it and, most importantly, reports by independent “citizen journalists” from the ever-expanding Newsmotion team. Behind this approach to the news lies the belief that who is telling you about a news story is an integral part of the story itself. Juxtaposing these different voices allows for a triangulation of perspectives. In other words, it is time for the myth of “neutral,” “impartial” reporting to be laid to rest.
Newsmotion has been in development for around a year now, and is scheduled for its hard launch this coming summer. We are currently fundraising for the project. If you are interested in learning more about our work, we invite you to attend our big gumbo party/fundraiser at University Settlement on the Lower East Side tonight at 7:00 p.m., featuring short presentations by Anna Badkhen (just back from covering the war in Afghanistan), Natalie Jeremijenko (presenting the prototype of a bicycle that broadcasts the news from its spokes), Alan Chin, and Mark Read, creator of the Occupy Wall Street “bat signal” that was projected on the Verizon building during the march across the Brooklyn Bridge on Nov. 17.
Advance tickets start at $20 (or $25 at the door), and larger contributions are gratefully accepted at our Kickstarter site. For larger pledges, a number of rewards are available, including an original model of the Survivaball suit donated by the YES Men, archival prints of works by Jason Goodman, Brooke Singer, Misha Friedman, Alan Chin and Natalie Jeremijenko, and a limited edition print (number 2 of 5!) by Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung depicting Ai Wei Wei.
The gumbo is simmering. Hope to see you there!
Even if you cannot attend tonight’s party, a small or large donation would be very much appreciated. Our Kickstarter campaign ends Dec. 29.
Reposting from www.PEN.org: