These Activists Are Crowdsourcing the News


Have you found yourself frustrated with media coverage, wondering who is behind the messaging? Join the club. Take, for example, the folks who started Channel 98 Take Action News. Aware that corporate-owned media has a bias, they decided to take matters into their own hands by making the news themselves.

The organization arose from a group called The Other 98, known for their efforts to crowdfund a purchase of the Tribune Company (which owns the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, and more). Their campaign to outbid billionaires David and Charles Koch fell far short, but their point was clear: who, precisely, "owns" the news?

As consumers, have a responsibility to be conscientious about the media we access. In reality, most of us rely too easily on mass media to sort through major events and tell us what we need to know. By extension, we trust mainstream media to be honest and fair in the process. Channel 98, as well as Al Jazeera America, want us to reconsider how mainstream media is influencing our opinions. The latter created a network for “fact-based, in-depth news” to feed a populace hungry for something corporate media hasn't offered in some time.

Sadly, I am skeptical of the prospect of success for crowdsourced media, because to continually find resources and financial security is a big hurdle. However, I think their motivation is genuine, even if it, too, has a bias.

Thomas White recently wrote an essay in the Huffington Post about how not hate your news. He suggests the way to work with bias is to be aware of what you consume: vary your sources, accept the bias, demand accuracy over early reporting, and remember that social media isn’t always news. These are all fantastic suggestions if you have no desire to change the status quo.

But I have another suggestion.

We, the people, do own a segment of the media: our public media. I’ve written about the value of public media before, but it bears repeating that public media is intended to be more responsive to the public by providing localized content for local priorities. Not to detract from Other98's good work , but we own a stake in public media that derives its funding from what is essentially crowdsourcing.

We need to take advantage of it.