Tag Archives: alternative media

newsbud

Is Newsbud an activist group or a news organization?

This post is an edited collection of my responses to James Corbett’s article about Newsbud’s “Confront NBC” campaign in New York.

I thought Newsbud was to be an independent news organization with no political agenda. But it seems to be turning into a political activism organization. Analysis is one thing, but lobbying a foreign government to make demands of an American media company?

And this “confront NBC” protest seems like overkill. A tiny handful of protesters that will be ignored or, God forbid, arrested if they take it too far. These resources could be spent for research and reporting on many other issues. I would be livid if I was a Newsbud donor. I hesitated to donate precisely becuase I did not see their editorial policy as transparent.

It really seems to be driven by Sibel’s emotions and passions, which is good for an activist group, but not what I think of as a credible news source.

My question is only about Newsbud’s mission. In the KickStarter campaign, it was billed as an independent media organization with no political agenda. Now, it is behaving as an activist organization with a clear political agenda, to the point of lobbying foreign governments.

It is not ethical to raise funding for one type of project, but afterwards switch it to a different type of project. You may be okay with it, but others who donated may not be. So, the ethical thing to do would be to either 1. stick to research, investigation, analysis, reporting, as Sibel is excellent at all of that, or 2. refund the KickStarter money to donors and start a new KickStarter making it clear she intends to fund a political activism group.

Sibel had her Twitter followers pressure the Turkish embassy to demand an apology from NBC. I was actually shocked she did this. It has the appearance of partisanship with the Turkish government, even if that was not her intention.

I have nothing against activism at all. I just think this all-consuming focus to “confront NBC” over one lie of many lies in the media is a quixotic errand. Beating a dead horse. I’m not sure what it’s meant to accomplish, even if successful, and why it is of overriding importance. It seems petty, and not in her stated goal of being a no-agenda news organization.

It’s not just reporting, she’s flying to New York with her crew to “confront” NBC, I guess hold a protest and make demands? Seems excessive for this one issue and it does seem like a political agenda.

South Park - La Resistance

“Fake news” hysteria is a huge opportunity

It is an auspicious time for independent media.  The Fake Media’s “fake news” hysteria has capped off this year’s apotheosis of undisguised propaganda.  Now we learn that the US government will directly fund domestic pro-government propaganda in the press and on social media, with $160 million.  Let me explain why this is amazing news for independent media.

The media world has supply and demand, just like any other market.  There is a demand out there for real information and it is up to the media to satisfy that demand.  The more the media avoid this, and publish lies and hoaxes instead, the more business opportunity there is to fill the void.  This is how Fox News became such a cable news powerhouse.  Due to the “fake news” hysteria, the big platforms Facebook, Google, and Twitter are censoring alternative voices.  This creates an opportunity for a Fox News of social media (perhaps many!).

The government’s funding of propaganda reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of media.  It is treating the internet as an “enemy weapons system“.  But media consumption is not a win-lose, zero-sum game.  All this does is crowd out existing journalism and reduces the supply of real information.  But the demand remains the same.  That means there is now an even greater business opportunity for free speech advocates than before.

We have a real, tangible, action plan to dismantle the establishment’s hold on power: Start new media platforms and especially new media technologies.  Let us create independent media content, independent social networks, independent ad networks, independent video sharing, … independent everything!  The opportunities are boundless.  I myself am working with a group on such a project in the media tech space.  If you are interested in learning more about our effort, please email me at apollo at apolloslater dot com.

Vive la resistance!

Steemit logo

Steemit, a fresh breath of hot air

This post is an edited collection of my responses to James Corbett’s presentation on the social bookmarking site Steemit.

A new social bookmarking site, Steemit, has been taking off recently, in libertarian and anarchist circles, promising decentralized, uncontrolled publishing via blockchain technology.  However, on closer analysis, Steemit does not look decentralized at all. It looks like a standard social bookmarking site, with the added feature of paying for tokens to increase your post/comment ranking. It seems like interest groups with deep pockets could easily game the ranking system, moreso than other sites. In fact, this operation seems more like a scheme to sell digital currency than a publishing platform.

As for the blockchain, besides the nice buzzword, I’m not sure what it solves in terms of preventing censorship, besides providing a public cache. This function is performed now by image-hosting sites, private websites, archive.org, as well as the social network platforms themselves. The big problem is discovery and ranking, how people actually communicate and find out about stuff, which Steemit is still very vulnerable to.

It’s very odd that Steemit requires a Facebook or Reddit account to function, with plans to add SMS verification, but no stated plans to remove these restrictions. I’m not sure what permissions they ask for, since I haven’t signed up, but it certainly opens the possibility of those social networks reading your Steemit posts and punishing you on their platform. In any case, it’s a big hint that this is not a decentralized system and is doubly strange because most platforms do not have such a restrictive requirement. A truly decentralized system would not have a spam/fake account problem, except as DDoS, since it would not rely on a central index.

Steemit does not look like any better of a solution than Facebook or Twitter at this point, except to the extent that you trust the people running it more. The links to the User Agreement and Privacy Policy are broken and there is no ownership information about the company on their website. Caution!