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why indymedia is better for being biased

this essay was originally posted to indymedia in october 2001, but discussion of the issue is still ongoing.

"objectivity"?
"balance"?
"non-biased reporting"?
fuck that noise !!

start talking about media and you'll soon hear the words "objectivity", "balance", and "bias". start looking at indymedia and you might see little of what "professionals" would call the first two and plenty of what they'd label the third. that indymedia is thus not "real" journalism is a common refrain among many folks, even some who are involved with other alternative media organizations themselves. i actually agree that indymedia is not "real" journalism, but i've got different reasons than the "professionals", who are full of shit in my opinion.

when a corporate newspaper publishes an article about global warming, and quotes scientists from the u.n. who say it's real and scientists paid by oil companies who say it's not, they call such coverage balanced, objective, and unbiased. it is none of the three. insofar as there is any truth in the scientific method, the u.n. scientists are right, and the oil company scientists are lying. to treat both opinions equally is not balanced, but tipped: biased in favor of the oil companies, and subjective in its failure to note the qualitative differences in the motivations behind the two statements. it's not _fair_ either; not to the reading audience who is missing the full picture, not to the u.n. scientists whose work is degraded in the comparison, and not to the earth and all the life on it which will continue to suffer and whither under the syndrome of global warming itself. that the oil company-funded scientists are not always described as such is an ommission so grevious it borders on the criminal. yet this is an all-too-typical example of the "journalistic" standard set by corporate media that, by failing to meet, indymedia and other alternative media organizations are judged as not being "real".

well, fuck that noise.

who's objective in their hearts? balanced in their thoughts? unbiased in their minds? no one. anyone who claims to be is a liar or has no self-awareness. any attempt to produce a piece of media that is absent of those qualities is an act of self-deception. indymedia is one forum that, thanks to its open-publishing newswire -- which allows anyone to post their work (nearly) instantly to the website -- actively encourages _honest_ expression. the personal intimacy of a first-hand account is lost at a clinical distance, and indymedia makes no demands for such artificial separation. "tell _your_ story". you don't have to know how to spell or punctuate or capitalize. it don't matter; there probably won't be grammar after the rEvolution anyway.

alternative media outlets, from zines to cable access to community radio, show that untrained voices can sing with an effect unattainable by the daily practiced. where are those voices in corporate media? i'm not talking about the occasional flat note or missed beat. where is the improvisation? the playful extrapolation on the established theme? the solo? that you're more likely to find an independent video activist participating in a drum circle than a wire service photographer is surely no coincidence. that _no_ wire service photographer would ever join a drum circle cannot be true, so there's hope, but the general principle is accurate, i'm afraid.

i'm "afraid" because so many people actually believe the cold, impersonal, and hence deceptive words of the corporate media. details disappear with distance; the "big picture" leaves out individual consequences. the expulsion of emotion exiles love; no room is made for compassion or understanding. the focus on the rational, and the rational only, leaves out the most important element of any issue: its effect on life. i'm not talking about "what this will mean for your pocketbook", or "are your children safe in school?" pieces. stories of these types play on certain facts -- or alleged facts of the oil company scientist variety -- for fear and rarely go deeper than superficialities. they are the products of naivete at best and malice at worst.

a post to indymedia might be either of these, naive or malicious, but in either case the quality will usually be fairly obvious. the pretense of dispassion is rarely attempted, and that's how people relate to each other in the real world. through emotion and feeling. people are attracted and repulsed by what they see and experience. sometimes they are inspired to try to learn to love, which might be the greatest of all human endeavors. this last pursuit is so important, in my opinion, that anything that distracts us from it is gravely dangerous and must be loudly labeled so. a story that is stripped of "subjectivity" is not balanced. the bias against opinion is a bias against people and feelings, which is at least half the narrative. this dishonest presentation of the world has become a multi-billion dollar industry that exists for the purpose of manipulating desire and controlling behavior. entire populations are kept down this way and the earth is being raped to perpetuate it. we need to save the world from these institutions, not imitate them.

my rEvolution is about love, so i pledge to avoid "real" journalism. i will not be "unbiased" and that's how i will be both factual and fair. isn't "truth" what media is supposed to report?

& truth = beauty.

Nicely put 23.Jul.2002 11:49

Son sonkingrah@hotmail.com

Beauty lies within the truth. The fact that many people don't see beauty or the truth is scary to me
as well. It is places like this though, that if one person who had previously gotten their news through
the mainstream, comes to this site and takes part in discussion, tha person is now aware that truth
is not always absolute, but a matter of perception. That one person may be curious enough to look
at the real effects of globalization, or clearcutting, or institutionally sanctioned ISM's. It is here that
people are able to connect and decide for themselves, without the pressure to be like everyone else.
That presence and consciousness of other truths and the true "other side" of the story, maybe the door
that needs to be opened in order to let people be compassionate and begin to discount fundamentalism
and intolerance. I think that this IS real journalism, the way it started. With people talking about
issues instead of passively consuming the corporate onesidedness of things. I am glad to know that
people feel like I do about certain things, but I am also glad that people are willing to let me know that
they feel differently than I.