Future of Independent Media:

Independent journalist Mark Taylor-Canfield talks with Norman Goldman about efforts to bring back progressive and independent voices to the Northwest US media. KPTK(Seattle) & KPOJ(Portland) went off the air, sparking groups like Progressive Radio Northwest and KRXY to launch campaigns to establish new broadcast stations and networks in Washington and Oregon.

Seattle Hosts Progressive Media Gathering – Is Radio Dead?

Progressive radio fans and broadcasters gathered in Seattle’s Pioneer Square on January 18th to discuss the future of the media. A standing room only crowd listened to guest speakers including Norman Goldman and local journalists Geov Parrish and David Goldstein. The event was organized by Progressive Radio Northwest.

PRNW was founded by former listeners of KPTK(AM 1090). The station was broadcasting progressive talk shows until CBS decided to convert its format to sports radio last year. KPTK’s programming included Rachel Maddow, Randi Rhodes, Thom Hartmann, Norman Goldman, Mike Malloy, and other former Air America network broadcasters. PRNW was formed to bring progressive media back to the Seattle area.

Progressive radio has been suffering all across the country. Brad Friedman of Bradblog recently posted a map on his website showing the number of red stations versus blue. To put it mildly, the conservative stations have been expanding rapidly while progressive and liberal programs are disappearing at an alarming rate. A few hundred miles to the south in Portland, Oregon, KPOJ also discontinued their progressive talk show programming. That station is owned by Clear Channel.

Most of these talk shows are now heard exclusively online. The major complaint from many progressives has been that corporate networks have dropped all support for progressive media, leaving only sports, religious and right-wing broadcasting. The irony here is that two of the most progressive cities in the country (Seattle/Portland) have no commercial progressive media.

Blogger/broadcaster David Goldstein talked about his experience as a local talk show host after he created his popular blog reporting on local politics. Goldstein hosted a talk show at KIRO and he is currently a blogger for The Stranger newspaper. He described how his program was dropped when the radio station was purchased by a conservative group of investors.

Geov Parrish has been a political writer for the Seattle Weekly. Currently he is a broadcaster on KEXP’s public affairs program “Mind Over Matter”. He gave a presentation on the history of progressive media in Seattle, including a discussion about Seattle’s legendary independent radio station KRAB. Parrish also talked about the influence of local public stations KUOW, KBCS and KSER. He explained how subscriber based media began in Berkeley California with the Pacifica Radio Network. The network grew as a result of the Berkeley free speech movement and Pacifica flagship stations were established New York City, Washington DC, Los Angeles and Houston. Today the network has grown to include affiliate stations across the nation. Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now!” and Free Speech Radio News are two recent examples of the Pacifica Network’s cutting-edge programming.

 

Norman Goldman was the keynote speaker at the PRNW event in Seattle. As an attorney, he was a frequent contributor to the Ed Shultz Show until he launched his own national radio program. Now Goldman finds himself in the middle of the progressive media transition from radio to the web. Along with Mike Malloy and other progressive talk show hosts, Goldman’s program has been dropped by by radio stations in Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. His message is very simple – “Everything is moving online.” He pointed to his smartphone, referring to it as the “new transistor radio”.

According to Goldman, the traditional radio industry no longer exists. He described how most US radio stations are owned by large corporate interests such as Clear Channel and Culumus and their subsidiaries (Premier, etc.). Corporate investors have purchased hundreds of stations around the nation through what he described as “leveraged buy-outs”. Clear Channel now controls over 800 radio stations.

To fund this monopoly, Clear Channel borrowed huge sums from hedge funds managed by Bain Capital. Goldman claims Clear Channel currently owes $20.4 billion and is guilty of practicing the same kind of financial scam that caused the national economic crash of 2008. Cumulus has borrowed $2.25 billion to fund it’s own media buying buying spree.

Since their true loyalty is to the investors, not to their audience, radio station owners have raided these businesses by firing employees and automating the broadcasts. They have created national networks which do not serve local communities. FCC allowance for corporate media ownership consolidation has resulted in a situation where the majority of all US media is owned by just a few corporations.

The unfortunate casualties of this corporate raiding party have been: 1) journalistic credibility; 2) the idea of publicly owned airwaves; 3) all practices of the “Fairness Doctrine”.

These traditional ideals have been thrown out the window, replaced by corporate greed. Media bosses have been blinded by their need to make huge profits in order to pay back these enormous debts. In this type of Mitt Romney style corporate takeover, CEO’s pocket large fees by skimming off the top, and most of the rest of the income goes to pay the investors. Clear Channel is reportedly paying 11.25% interest on the debt, which Goldman described as comparable to mafia loan shark rates.

In a desperate attempt to pay back investors, large media corporations continue to dump the burden of their loans onto local radio stations. This is being accomplished by the enforcement of economic austerity measures which have resulted in the loss of  thousands of jobs. Goldman told his Seattle audience that 80% of all radio jobs have been eliminated in the US.

In the United States, alternative, independent and progressive media has been left struggling to survive with little or no funding. Lacking the multi-million dollar advertising budgets that corporate networks possess, these programs continue to experience financial crises on a regular basis, and many of them languish in obscurity. Pacifica’s Free Speech Radio news recently went off the air due to lack of funds. Broadcasters Nicole Sandler and Jeff Santos are now broadcasting on the web from their own living rooms. The challenge for these independent broadcasters is how to invent new economically sustainable networks.

Meanwhile, corporations like Clear Channel have decided to buy their conservative “talent” by signing Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to exclusive contracts. Limbaugh is being paid $28 million per year and Beck receives $20 million. Yet Goldman points out that most of the top neo-con talkshows are still losing much of their audience. He estimates that Sean Hannity has lost up to 60% of his listeners around the nation. In Los Angeles, Limbaugh and Beck’s shows are being moved by Clear Channel to a smaller station with less broadcast coverage. Although the corporate executives are obligated to honor their expensive contracts, they see the writing on the wall. In many US markets, radio is dying.
It’s being replaced by online content.

As I have often tried to explain to alternative media network representatives, the radio station antenna tower is no longer essential to broadcasting. In fact, going online can gain the station access to listeners worldwide. Seattle’s music station KEXP is a prime example. Bankrolled by billionaire Paul Allen, KEXP even sponsors music concerts in New York City. Their fans live all around the earth. No radio transmitter or antenna can compete with this unlimited coverage. Granted, much of the planet is still not wired for the internet. Surprisingly, it is still impossible to go online in remote regions of Alaska, but the world is changing fast and the technology is spreading rapidly.

Norman Goldman maintains that the only sustainable model for broadcasters today is subscription based programming. The goal is to recruit subscribers who will pay a nominal fee for media content which can be accessed through any computer or mobile device. He emphasized that this also applies to listening to programming while commuting in your car.
The “drive time” audience has always been a major reason that radio talk shows have flourished in the past.

Another model is to fund the program through underwriting/sponsorship. Jeff Santos’ talk show in Boston is sponsored by a labor union. In Portland, progressive radio fans launched a Kickstarter campaign which raised $250,000 to help fund a new radio station.

Currently there are many ongoing discussions and forums among US alternative media folks regarding these political. economic and technological issues. Media democracy is an important part of these discussions for the simple reason that new progressive media networks have been instrumental in helping to elect progressives and Democrats during national elections.

President Barack Obama’s election campaign benefited directly from progressive and liberal radio networks and their daily political talk shows. Presidential candidates Rocky Anderson(Justice Party) and Jill Stein(Green Party) relied almost exclusively on progressive media to get their message out to the voters. If the recent trend towards conservative corporate owned media continues without a serious challenge, we can expect direct political results from this development as well.

When democratic voices are stifled or censored, the entire nation suffers. An effective, participatory democracy requires opposing viewpoints and alternative analysis. The constant echo chamber of neo-liberal and neoconservative viewpoints in US media represents a regressive tendency towards uniformity and authoritarianism. Although no commercial media will report on this fact, the US is currently ranked as 37th on the World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders (rsf.org). In other words, due to the corporate dominance of US media, there are now 36 other countries where you will find more freedom of the press. Finland is currently ranked as number one.

As a US journalist I must admit that I am not proud of our ranking on the World Press Freedom Index. We can do much better than this! One conclusion I’ve drawn from this low ranking is that public broadcasting has not provided the necessary balance to heavily funded conservative media programming. I am also sadly aware that freedom of the press is taken for granted by the majority of the public and by most of my colleagues. After reading the Reporters Without Borders report, any responsible journalist, editor or producer should immediately address the issue with adequate news coverage and analysis. We may not have state controlled media in the US, but corporate control leads to less diversity in reporting and less interest in investigative journalism or political criticism of national policies.

With any luck, this negative trend in US media can be checked by a growing number of new innovative and progressive networks. Though many of the details have yet to be worked out, organizations like Progressive Radio Northwest and the Northwest Progressive Institute are dedicated to making this new media possible. PRNW plans to sponsor future forums and eventually, they hope to help create a new progressive media network that will broadcast, podcast and live stream new cutting edge programs from Seattle.

http://progressiveradionorthwest.org
http://nwprogressive.org

http://pacifica.org

http://fsrn.org
http://normangoldman.com
http://thomhartmann.com
http://radioornot.com
http://mikemalloy.com
http://facebook.com/mtaylorcanfield
http://thestranger.com
http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2012/06/29/rob-mckenna-illegally-bars-stranger-reporter-from-press-conference

Originally published at OpEdNews

Seattle May Day Mayhem – Pepper Spray and Flash Grenades

Videos @ Youtube – Free Speech Radio News Reports:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctGn7BDO35w
(Including voice of ABC News reporter Hanna Scott on being pepper sprayed.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MdG5ECCgjk

Originally Published Wed May 01, 2013 at 10:19 PM PDT
@ Daily Kos

Seattle May Day Mayhem – Pepper Spray and Flash Grenades

by Mark Taylor-Canfield

Thousands of people marched in Seattle on May Day.

Labor unions brought large numbers out to an immigrants rights march organized by the group El Comite.

Although the main march was peaceful, a group of 100 to 200 protesters fought a moving battle with police starting downtown near Westlake Park and ending on Capitol Hill.

SPD officers used large amounts of pepper spray and flash/bang grenades.

A Walgreens on Capitol Hill had a broken window. Other property damage and broken windows were reported.

13 arrests for property damage and assault. 2 juveniles arrested.

Police report bottles, rocks, and metal pipes were thrown at them.

KIRO TV news reports that their reporters were attacked by protesters, and several suffered from the effects of the pepper spray.

These incidents are sure to continue the ongoing controversy over police crowd control policies and anarchist tactics. Last year’s events resulted in a federal grand jury, the jailing of four activists (in solitary confinement), an independent review of SPD actions, an internal investigation and the resignation of SPD chief John Diaz.

(Update: SPD reports 18 arrests.)

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/05/02/1206320/-Seattle-May-Day-Mayhem-Pepper-Spray-and-Flash-Grenades

Independent Report on May Day Critical of Seattle Police

Youtube video of news report here:
MTC FSRN Report_0001

Originally broadcast April 4, 2013 @ Free Speech Radio News on the Pacifica Network.
FSRN broadcasts on 110 stations globally!

Link to news report @ FSRN:
News Report For Free Speech Radio News on the Pacifica Network fsrn.org pacifica.org

Reporter: Mark Taylor-Canfield

“Seattle’s city council questioned the police chief on Wednesday, about his handling of last year’s May Day protests, in which eight people were arrested. An independent review of the protests found that the Seattle Police Department failed to practice adequate crowd control and officers were confused by conflicting orders. FSRN’S Mark Taylor-Canfield has more.”

“Authored by former Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Michael Hillmann, the review focuses on the policing of a small independent march. On May Day 2012 demonstrators broke off from the main march and damaged property in downtown Seattle. Officers reported that they were given conflicting orders on how to engage protesters and make arrests. Hillman claims that police activity on May Day ‘significantly damaged the credibility of the Police Department’. In particular Hillman found that fellow officers criticized Assistant Police Chief Mike Sanford’s decision to enter a crowd of protesters alone to make an arrest. They told how Sanford then had to be rescued by other police officers.”

“The review also points out that Seattle Police officers have not received any new training on crowd control since demonstrations against the World Trade Organization took place in Seattle in 1999. The department’s handling of those protests was also widely criticized. At the time of the May Day protest the Seattle Police Department was under a US Dept of Justice investigation for use of excessive force. A federal grand jury is also currently investigating the protests.”

“Mark Taylor-Canfield, FSRN, Seattle.”

Weapons of Mass Distraction – Freedom of the Press? US Activists and Journalists Face Surveillance

By Mark Taylor-Canfield

(From Mark’s  Syndicated Monthly Column – “Weapons of Mass Distraction”)

Thank you to the editors for allowing me to tell the truth without censorship! Here’s another of my honest efforts to do just that. I only hope this piece doesn’t get me into trouble with my own publishers at other websites and/or the folks who control social media networks.

let’s face it, in the land of the free and the brave the press has suffered from corporate media consolidation and lack of funding for alternative media. Witness the recent demise of the progressive national radio network Air America. Many of those broadcasters are still lamenting their lack of access to the national airwaves, so many of them have gone to the web and started their own shows, sometimes livestreaming from their own bedrooms or basements. Al Gore’s experiments in alternative news coverage went under and was purchased by Al Jazeera, prompting numerous outraged remarks by right-wing pundits who accuse the cable network of being disloyal to America.

Reality check: Reporters Without Borders ranks the US as 47th on the world press freedom index. This number represents a slip from 19th in previous years. According to RWB this drop in status is a result of the arrests of journalists at Occupy Wall Street protests. It is a well known fact among occupiers that live video streamers have been targeted, raided and arrested by police at major OWS events around the country, including demonstrations in New York City during the OWS anniversary, and in Chicago during protests at the NATO summit last year.

Although freedom of the press is protected by the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution, it appears that the “fourth estate” has been placed under duress while trying to report major political news stories.

The latest insult to press freedom is the story of Shannon McLeish, a journalist and broadcaster from Daytona Beach, Florida. In December 2012, Shannon says she found out through Freedom of Information Act documents that her name is included on a “terrorist watch list.” Except for Chris Hedge’s column @ Truthdig or my own article @ Truthout, this story is not being reported by the national media.

A recent guest on Shannon’s radio program was Noam Chompsky. (Disclaimer: I have also been a guest on “AIr Occupy”.) I found the broadcasting crew to be authentic, altruisitic advocate journalists trying to get at the truth about what’s happening around the world and in this nation. Recent shows featured guests who discussed fracking, attacks on the power of labor unions and the civil rights implications of the National Defense Authorization Act. According to Liz Myers, co-host of  the “Air Occupy” program, Youtube deleted their channel after they did the program on the NDAA. Youtube claimed the program had “violated community standards” but apparently they presented no specific complaint.

Add to this information the fact that at least a few other US activists have had their Twitter accounts deleted, and some folks have been banned from posting on any Facebook sites besides their own. The irony of indy activists using corporate owned social media platforms is not lost on me. Try criticizing Facebook or Twitter and see how long it takes to attract their attention. These are profit motivated websites – commercial enterprises that do not necessarily support freedom of political expression. One man banned from Twitter claims his account  was deleted after he tweeted a statement made by Indian non-violence advocate Mahatma Gandhi!

I came within a hair’s breadth of being banned from writing at Daily Kos after I wrote an article about Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. Luckily, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas decided not to allow me to be ostracized by outraged Democratic Party readers. The Democrats reminded me that Daily Kos is a pro Democratic Party website that is not interested in articles about the Greens. Obviously many Democrats still see the Green Party as a threat to their vote counts and they still blame Ralph Nader for the election of George W. Bush. Of course the editors have the right to choose the topics on their website, but I must admit I felt I had been censored. I can no longer write about the Greens at Daily Kos without running the risk of banishment. The site which Time magazine readers voted as “2nd best blog” in the US is not a completely open forum for discussion.

Besides the fears of banishment and government surveillance, reporters also have to face the very real threat of legal retribution from social network sites if they are courageous enough to criticize their policies. Calling Facebook or twitter “undemocratic” will not win you the admiration or respect of the administrators or owners. I will admit that I am very careful what I post these days. I was banned by Facebook from posting anywhere but on my own website for two months allegedly due to “spamming” activity. The truth is, I posted many political articles on sites around the world which are dedicated to politics and activism. I have never tried to recruit anyone for a campaign; I have never offered anything for sale; I have never endorsed any commercial enterprise.

And now, in an ironic turn of events, I may qualify as a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit filed against Facebook. The suit claims that FB included user’s posts and photographs in their ads without permission from the authors and photographers. By the way, Facebook completely denies this claim.

I take these issues very seriously because last year I won a major federal class action lawsuit against the Washington State Patrol after I was illegally detained and banned from covering protests at the state capitol in Olympia. Federal District Court Judge Robert J. Bryan ruled in my favor. According to his decision, the WSP had violated my freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Now I am corresponding with Reporters Without Borders, the Committee To Protect Journalists, and the Society For Professional Journalism. My task – document these abuses!

To me it really comes down to a simple question: “Should US journalists be proud and satisfied with their status in society at this time?” As I have stated in my article at Truthout, these restrictions (along with the perceived harassment and threats) has silenced some editors, publishers, producers and reporters who are now afraid to cover controversial stories. I maintain that the result is self-censorship from folks who don’t want to lose their jobs or find their names on a government watch list.

Just a reminder – my favorite journalists Greg Palast, Glenn Greenwald and Chris Hedges have been forced to give up lucrative positions at major US media corporations in order to report the truth without restrictions. Palast now does investigative journalism for the BBC and Greenwald writes for the UK Guardian. It’s amazing that we still have a few strong independent voices left in this country – Amy Goodman, Jeremy Scahill, Aaron Glantz and Arun Gupta, Matt Taibbi to name a few who deserve our praise for standing up against the establishment at a time when doing so could be very detrimental to both your psychological and financial health…

Mark Taylor-Canfield writes @ Huffington Post and Daily Kos.
https://www.facebook.com/mtaylorcanfield
https://twitter.com/MTaylorCanfield

His Op-ed @ Truthout – Press freedom?

http://truth-out.org/speakout/item/14145-us-alternative-media-journalists-face-government-surveillance

Mark’s Testimony Before The FCC – Effects of Corporate Media Consolidation

http://www.reclaimthemedia.org/seattlefcc/taylor-canfield

Mark’s Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/11/29/1040971/-My-Arrest-At-The-Demonstrations-A-Personal-Statement-About-The-First-Amendment

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2011/12/06/judge-rules-in-favor-of-occupy-protesters-suspends-trespassing-notices