On February 5th, the Global Greens organization of political parties held a conference with speakers from all over the world to discuss a variety of green party issues. Our news network, Global Green News was represented prominently on a panel to discuss the role of independent media in today’s society.

The panel guests included:

  • Max Alvarez: Editor-in-chief of ‘The Real News Network’, Freelance Journalist, and host of the ‘Working People’ podcast
  • Dr. Radhika Desai: Prof. at the University of Manitoba and Director of the Geopolitical Economy Research Group at the UoM
  • Dimitri Lascaris: Board member of ‘The Real News Network’, Activist, Journalist, and Legal Worker
  • Aati Padidar: Freelance Journalist, Content Creator, and Presenter
  • Alex Tyrrell: Leader of the Green Party of Quebec, Creator of Global Green News, and Activist

Moderating and facilitating the discussion was GGN’s own Guy Vertinsky. The first question he posed was:

“Why is alternative media important for the voice of progressive and grassroots movements when compared to mainstream media outlets?”

Mr. Lascaris opened the floor with a comparison of our media system to the Noam Chomsky book ‘Manufacturing Consent’, stating that “I have been misled my entire life by the media sources I trusted… they basically present to you a skewed and sometimes entirely false vision of what is happening in our world”.

Mr. Lascaris further contended that the mainstream media exercises control over their listeners in two ways, the first one being ownership, “they are owned by large corporate entities, all of which have their own agenda”. Additionally, media organizations with the exception of publicly owned ones wish to maximize their profit.

He noted the second way they influence their control is by advertising, they “adopt an editorial posture which is going to be favorable to your advertisers because you’re not going to want to jeopardize that relationship and lose that critically important source of revenue”.

Dr. Desai added to the conservation by highlighting the importance of an independent media in a capitalist neo-liberal system. She said of capitalism that it is “predatory, speculative, and environmentally destructive, that is in a far bigger scale so practically every climate change graph you see you know temperatures have been rising over the last 40 years”.

Furthermore she added the importance of having a strong independent green media like GGN, “eco-socialist specifically an eco-socialist green media is critically important, to the extent that a website like this by just essentially showing Greens around the world what other Greens are doing”.

Finally, Mr. Alvarez pointed out that the mainstream media allows companies who are responsible for the destruction of our planet to be framed as the ones who are equipped to solve it. He said, “advertisements for the very companies that are destroying the planet that present them as the ones with the solution to the planet, so it really kind of reinforces this framing”.

The next question Mr. Vertinsky asked was:

“Our mainstream media is often accused of being biased or showing one type of narrative as our guests demonstrated it’s usually the capitalist narrative, is there this type of problem present in independent media as well and, if so, what are the dangers of showing one side or a bias narrative?”

Mr. Tyrrell argued that, “you have progressive independent media, you also have like right wing independent media…you have to take the independent media in context”. Ms. Padidar agreed and added, “just because a media outlet is independent doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily impartial”.

Mr. Lascaris emphasized its natural for writers in the media to approach their stories from their natural biases and there is nothing wrong with that because it is inherently human. He said that it is a “Natural feature of the human condition that our political views influence the stories we want to tell and how we tell them”.

The final question posed by Mr. Vertinsky was:

“Is there other challenges that are faced by independent media, especially compared to social media?”

Ms. Padidar weighed in with her thoughts on challenges facing the independent media, “I think the main challenge for the independent media at the moment is to be relevant, you know relevancy is very important at the moment, mainstream news networks are at an all time low in terms of credibility”.

Mr. Tyrrell expanded on this topic by drawing on his experience as the creator of the Global Green News website. He stated, “one of the challenges that that I’ve seen for independent media in this new polarized sort of algorithm dominated world…A lot of the stuff that’s most popular is either very extreme or you know clickbait sort of thing, and this was one of the criticisms I had of the mainstream media when founding the Global Green News, is that it’s often sensationalist and often the title is a little bit exaggerated when you read the article”.

Conclusion

The discussion concluded with most panelists agreeing that the independent media is extremely important in our society. The main reasons included the mainstream media being owned by larger corporate entities which focus on profit over investigative journalism, along with their close connections to people in power.

Independent media is more isolated from this power structure which can give them more room to operate, but as we previously noted it is hard for any journalist to remain completely objective. This is natural, and independent outlets will likely adopt an editorial perspective. There is nothing wrong with this either as long as society has a plurality of voices in the independent media.

Finally, I would add the most important decisions lie with the news consumer. An individual in society must be aware of different biases media outlets have, and ideally focus on substantial news stories which affect them over relying on shorter clickbait articles.

Eliot Heiss

Eliot is a researcher, editor, and podcast host specializing in international relations and environmental politics. He graduated with an MA in Political Science from the Universität Salzburg, Austria and a BA in Political Science from the University of Victoria, Canada.

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