I believe that media consolidation is one of the biggest threats to democracy in this country. Large corporations, which have taken over most of the media outlets in this country, do not represent the best interests of the majority of people in this country. In fact, much of the news and information coming from corporate America these days is little more than propaganda, designed to promote mindless consumerism and maintain the wealth and privilege of the ruling elite.
You would think that as the endless wars in the Middle East drag on, unemployment is in the double digits, and the local jails and state prisons are overflowing with our youth, that people would demand a change. For that to happen, we need to develop new channels of communication and a political strategy. An important step in that direction is to expand alternative media that supports peace, social and economic justice.
The good news is that the alternative/independent news and information you need to counter corporate media’s lies and distortions is available, right here in Fresno and the Central Valley. In addition to the Community Alliance newspaper, you can tune in (24/7) to KFCF 88.1 FM for great non-commercial music, news and public affairs programming. On TV, you can tune in every night (M-F) at 6 p.m. to Democracy Now! on channel 49 (Channel 9 on Comcast Cable). These media outlets are, as Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, says, “the exception to the rulers.”
The bad news is that the organizations providing you with alternative/independent information are underfunded and constantly facing challenges to simply survive. The Community Alliance, for example, has a difficult time distributing the 10,000 copies a month we print. It is not that people don’t want to read the paper, but we often times have a hard time getting our newsstands into good locations. We have been blocked from having a newsstand in the CSU-Fresno library, even though they allow the Fresno Bee and the New York Times to be distributed. Several DMV and Post Offices have removed our newsstands, while they continue to allow corporate newspapers to distribute their papers at those locations. The Fresno Airport has relegated this paper to a hard-to-find spot at their information booth, whereas other newspapers are given newsstands in high-volume foot traffic areas. One of our most challenging newsstand locations is in front of police headquarters in downtown Fresno where that newsstand is constantly under assault with papers stolen, the plexiglass window repeatedly kicked in, and one time it was even burned to the ground. Of course, the police never catch the vandals!
As one of our readers, you can help by finding businesses or other locations where we can distribute the Community Alliance newspaper. If you are even more ambitious in your support of the “Free Press,” you can set up a distribution route and help us deliver the paper each month. At the very least, every person who understands the importance of alternative/independent news and information should be a subscriber to this paper.
At the national level, alternative/independent news and information sources are under attack on the Internet as well. Large corporations want to control the flow of information and establish different tiers of service on the Internet. In other words, they want the information of large corporations to move at a faster speed than smaller organizations (like us). They want our information to be relegated to a virtual Internet ghetto. What we are fighting for in this struggle is “Net-Neutrality,” so that all of the information on the Internet continues to travel at the same speed.
In a sense, the struggle for Net-Neutrality is similar to the effort we are engaged in here to make this paper more visible in the community. If free speech is to be more than just a theoretical concept it must be applied to real-life situations. I hope you will join us as we continue to break the stranglehold corporations and conservatives have on the news and information we have access to. A good place to start is by subscribing and/or sending us a generous donation to keep free speech and a free press alive.
The purpose of this, of course, is to provide a communication vehicle for progressive community activists who are working on a wide range of causes. By telling their story, we validate the work they are doing and encourage readers to become involved in helping to change the world around them. Just look within these pages to get a sense of some of the progressive groups active in this area and what they are up to. A powerful alternative/independent media will help unite the progressive movement and restore democracy, which is quite a bang for your buck when you subscribe to this newspaper.