Monday, March 28, 2011

ForwardSTL: Why St. Louis Needs A Progressive Media Voice

A few weeks ago, St. Louis labor unions and supporters held a rally that attracted over 4,300 attendees. This rally was completely ignored by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In contrast, the Post-Dispatch wrote a full-length article with photos about a tea party rally attended by only 500 people last year and provided similar coverage for many, many similar tea party events.

The St. Louis media regularly covers for the St. Louis tea party by ignoring their more extreme conspiracy theories and actions. The Post-Dispatch and the St. Louis Beacon dutifully reported the tea party appointing a new state lobbyist, but completely left out the fact that the lobbyist was the originator of a ridiculous conspiracy theory pushed by the tea party that the local control bill passed by the Republican Missouri House was a secret plot by the New Black Panther Party. The allegations were so absurd that even Republican House Speaker Steve Tilley described them as race-baiting. Meanwhile, the statewide media has been obsessively fixating on Senator McCaskill's catching of her own tax problems, while ignoring numerous similar problems with Senator Roy Blunt.

Last year, the local media (with the exception of the RFT) largely ignored the St. Louis tea party setting fire to a photo of Representative Russ Carnahan. They largely ignored the fact that the following day the tea party carried a coffin to Carnahan's family's home until the national media reported on it, and even then they managed to get the story wrong and ended up making up some story that the tea party was victimized because even though they carried a coffin to Carnahan's home, they didn't actually leave it on the ground.

Over and over, time and time again, we see the St. Louis media handing a megaphone to right-wing extremists that represent only a small part of the St. Louis area's population while ignoring the views of a much larger commonsense liberal population. And despite the fact that the media has been critiqued repeatedly over the past several years with facts and rational arguments, they have largely ignored these arguments and continue to pander to the right.

People with political views of anything other than Large-Corporations-Should-Be-Given-Free-Reign-to-Do-Whatever-They-Want-No-Matter-The-Consequences need a full voice in the St. Louis media, and it's been proven time and time again that we will not get that voice by simply asking the gatekeepers to please, please cover our issues. We need to develop our own vehicles for creating and distributing the news. Karoli at Drums and Whistles, in a blog about Ariana Huffington, wrote the following:
I will give her this: In 2008, she did a good job of providing a platform for true progressives to be heard, something the left wing really doesn’t have. We have a lot of great blogs and sites out there (some that even get decent traffic, like Crooks and Liars and Balloon Juice), but nothing aggregating them or highlighting great thinkers.
Actually, the same is true of St. Louis. We already have all of the talent, time, and ability we need to create a powerful progressive voice, we just need to do it. We have amazing bloggers at Show Me Progress, Angry Black Bitch, Occasional Planet, Urban Review STL, Dangerous Intersection, Arch Pundit (not to be confused with Gateway Pundit), Momocrats, and Show Me No Hate. We have Ryan Witt at the Political Buzz Examiner who provides excellent coverage of national news. We have Fired Up Missouri which does an amazing job keeping up with state politics and covering story the mainstream media ignores. We've got a fantastic local environmental political cartoonist Joe Mohr. We've got Jeff McIntire-Strasburg, who founded the excellent Sustainablog. We have well known journalists like Sylvester Brown, Charles Jaco, and Chad Garrison who shine the light on politics from a progressive perspective. We have frequently excellent articles in the weekly St. Louis American. And, even more importantly, we have an incredible amount of talented and thoughtful people who can contribute even more, whether through direct reporting, photography, video, or many other mediums, if they are just given the opportunity and incentive to do so.

In short, a progressive voice in the media is ours for the taking: we just need to make it happen. And that is why a group of us bloggers created ForwardSTL, the voice for progressives in St. Louis. How can I so boldly claim that it's the voice for progressives? Easy: because if there's a progressive St. Louis voice in the media, we will make sure to highlight it! And if we missed something, then as long as someone tells us we will make sure to put it up. ForwardSTL is an aggregator, meaning it highlights the content of the excellent and caring individuals we have in St. Louis. And it does so in a way that doesn't take traffic from anyone: in order to read the full articles, you go to the original sites. So ForwardSTL drives traffic to the online content that expresses news or analysis of interest to progressives. Often, this will be progressive blogs: but we will also make sure to highlight important stories in the mainstream media to reward them for actually looking out for a key part of their readership.

Please help build progressive media in St. Louis. You can do so first by "liking" ForwardSTL on facebook by going here and following ForwardSTL on Twitter. If you make ForwardSTL a part of your regular web browsing routine, you will be guaranteed to get crucial information about news and politics on our region and the world (from St. Louis authors). Not only that, but if you are interested in contributing to the web site, via reporting or art or photography or video or audio or organizing social events or anything else that I'm missing, all you have to do is contact us and we'll be thrilled to include you on the site. And please make sure to invite all of your progressive friends to get involved as well. The media is moving further and further to the corporate Right: if we don't develop a way of amplifying the voice of the mainstream Left, Missouri will quite quickly be decimated by extreme right-wing hardball politics while our local media twiddles their thumbs.

1 comment:

  1. ForwardSTL is THE place to begin every day. We absolutely cannot depend on the corporate media, and this was really driven home when the Post-Dispatch ignored the labor rally in St. Louis. During the health care battles of 2009 and 2010, local corporate television media ignored all but two of the many, many pro-health reform events, and the Post-Dispatch provided zero coverage. The time is now to move ForwardSTL!