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Independent Journalists Beware Of The Internet

November 13, 2011

In the Nov. 3 session of my Independent Media class the topic for discussion was corporate censorship of dissident voices on the internet, like Google removing certain results from its searches. This of course directly linked to the issue of net neutrality, the principle that states all users should have access to the same internet without interference from the gatekeepers of information.

Web censorship and net neutrality are serious threats to indy media, the mainstream is so integrated with corporate America that their view stays dominant on the major distributors of online information while independent voices must be found out in the shadows. It is because most journalists seek the largest audience possible that they choose to rely on corporate-owned distribution systems meaning results are susceptible to complete censorship.

We can read about Google removing an independent voice from search results, but what is the broader picture of the relationship between indy media and the corporate mainstream?
As soon as independent journalists began using electronic distribution channels for their content they lost their independence. By embracing television and the internet (it doesn’t apply as much to radio or print, though they are still controlled by large corporations) journalists support the very people they criticize: Big Business.

Really, the only truly independent media is produced and distributed by entities not influenced by big business interests. Colonial era pamphleteers and activists who distribute their materials on printed media are really the only examples of independent media. Sadly because the internet access is controlled by Comcast and other media companies, and searches are controlled by Google and Microsoft, if one of these companies decides that a certain blog is unruly, they can take steps to stop it. The dilemma is that there really aren’t many alternatives to the internet right now for cheap mass distribution.

I’m not saying independent journalists should all switch back to hand-printed pamphlets, but I hope they all are aware that the wonders of the internet could be stripped away from them in an instant.

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