Alternative news sites

You may have to subscribe to some of these, but it’s free; and for gosh sakes be careful–consumption of any of these sites may lead to permanent attitude adjustments . . . in fact, you may think you’ve suddenly been transported to a parallel universe. You’ll find some redundancy–I want to make sure you see some of the good ones . . . may make consumers more prone to bouts of depression. May cause drowsiness, sleeplessness, anxiety, possibly even outbreaks of joy if not elation. Do not use these sites in conjunction with cable news, especially the ‘news analysis’ shows. If you experience cynicism for more than eight continuous hours, call your doctor, or watch some Lawrence Welk re-runs.

News organizations have myriad ways to influence their audiences, some subtle and others not. Put simply, they get to decide:

  1. What to cover
  2. What not to cover
  3. Where to cover it (front page, living section, etc.)
  4. How to cover it (headlines, sources used, spin …)
  5. How long to cover it (just ask Nancy Grace)

But first, here are some basic ‘suggestions’ that, if you follow them, will pretty much guarantee you have a better idea of what’s going on in the world:

  1. Don’t watch TV for news. Too much noise. The air time is so pricey the pressure to filter stories, use sound bites and shorthand, avoid threatening the powerful, and appeal to the audience’s basest entertainment instincts is irresistible.
  2. Never rely on one source for news. No one source is immune from making editorial decisions and skewing the view of the world that results.
  3. Include non-commercial news in your mix. They still face filtering pressures, but with no advertisers to worry about, less of them.
  4. Especially on foreign policy topics, seek out international sources. BBC is a good starting point for English speakers.
  5. Find a weblog or two that provides some analysis of the news. Which blogs you choose obviously will say something about what you’re looking for in analysis, but there just isn’t much of that anymore in commercial news that doesn’t feel like crass editorializing or audience baiting.
  6. Slow down. Don’t get seduced by fast-breaking stories and round-the-clock (non) coverage. Commercial news didn’t learn any lessons from the Jessica Lynch fiasco.
tools
Friends don’t let friends watch TV news (for news, anyway). But if you must watch TV …. Free Speech TV; Democracy Now!; Current TV;
Pierce Library list of online databases Right in your own backyard. Peruse it or lose it.
open secrets Another site that tries to peel off some of the layers of secrecy that have shrouded government activities in recent years. From the Center for Responsive Politics. They specialize in exposing campaign funding–find out who has bought out your state’s members of Congress.
ALEC Exposed Want to know who’s writing bills in the legislature these days, while legislators hold industry fundraisers and call for accountability of state government employees and universities?
AllGov What it says–covers the government, and does what the networks don’t in many cases. You can get information on any department, with their official seals!
Conservative Transparency Excellent site for learning what corporate interests are funding seemingly independent think tanks, social movements, and non-profits.
sourcewatch.org Excellent site–sort of an encycopedia of media chicanery–you can search it for individuals, groups, etc.–your source for propaganda!
PRwatch Same as sourcewatch, but more focused on the PR industry
Media Alliance A voice for reform in a corporate wilderness. Their MediaFile page is a good source of info on what’s currently going on (that we’re not hearing about) in the sordid world of media and government.
Government accountability project I know, I know–politicians never lie. But just in case, here’s a site designed to shame the tempted.
National Priorities You think you want to know how your tax dollars are spent?
Brave New Films This is a link to their video page–but they have many campaigns and cover the uncovered
LexisNexis Academic from our Library, great for doing news-related research
Multinational Monitor Just what it sez . . . multinational corporations, that is.
WikiLeaks While it lasts! Governments around the world are trying to shut this one down. In the name of national security, of course. For historians, journalists and activists, it’s like a candy store full of official secrets.
Wikimedia Commons ” provides a central repository for freely licensed photographs, diagrams, animations, music, spoken text, video clips, and media of all sorts “
Right Web Good source for ‘connecting the dots’ between various neocon individual and organizational actors. Or as they say, tracking militarists’ efforts to influence US forein policy.
CorpWatch Keep track of your favorite multinational corporation!
Votes database from the Washington Post–votes from elected U.S. representatives and senators, going back to 1991, searchable in a variety of ways.
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities excellent site for picking apart policy and statistical manipulation
PIPA Program on International Policy attitudes–they regularly take the pulse of the public, both in the U.S. and abroad, on a variety of important issues, and also look at their consumption of mass media
DemocracyNow! There’s something to interest almost anyone on this site (except maybe a Limbaugh dittohead)
CREW Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Now there’s a concept … they do reports and FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests when the government won’t play nice.
Polling Report ‘An independent, nonpartisan resource on trends in American public opinion.’
Center for American Progress There are many tools on this site for investigating BS-like claims. Here’s their database of Iraq War lies (direct quotes from our leaders). Leans left, occasionally overboard.
Political money line Best site I’ve found for getting at the corrupting influence of money in politics–many different areas to search–lobbyists, campaign contributors–it’s all here (but some requires subscribing).
Politifact from the Tampa Bay Times–tries to document (hard to keep up, though!) the lies and half-truths of politicians and their campaigns
Storify ‘Curators of social media,’ they aggregate coverage on breaking stories (and archive them as well). Users can also ‘create’ stories, so there’s citizen journalism here.
Snopes.com this is the site that debunks all of those stupid emails you get forwarded (like the tax on email, or the billion dollar Microsoft giveaway)
Washington Spectator A project of the Public Concern Foundation. Irreverent journalism you won’t find in too many places.
Google still the search engine standard–if you’re unsure about something, google it with a search term or two to filter out unrelated garbage. There are many tools available on google now–government documents, images, maps, your home from space, check them out, they just make your searching more efficient and effective.
NNDB Looking to connect people and events? This is a good starting place. Check out the Rotten Library Page.
Google News search Good enough to merit its own link–a good way to search for recent coverage of a topic
Investigative reports of note
Top Secret America Washington Post report on the meteoric rise of the security industry (and the gazillions spent) since 9/11.
Congress and Cash Washington Post–great reading, if you have the stomach fot it
Dick Cheney’s Vice Presidency Washington Post investigates the man behind the man in the Oval Office for two terms
The Wall St. Crash Washington Post’s take, anyway, on what went wrong that precipitated the economic slide
Government Contracting And you thought national health care was the budget buster??
Pentagon Propaganda NY Times, and how the Pentagon stacked the deck with retired generals to ensure favorable coverage of the Iraq War.
Department of Justice scandal Yet another one that ran right off of Karl Rove, like teflon prison bars …. This is mostly my own collection of news stories
Driven to distraction Hey, WOFTSL!! (NY Times, ‘watch out for that stop light))
ProPublica They do investigative journalism, and take on stories no commercial organization would tackle for very long
rivate Armies Washington Post
Toxic pipeline And we’re not talking oil . . . but pharmaceuticals (NY Times)
Tea Party movement NY Times (collection of articles, analyses)
Income inequality in the U.S. Hasn’t been higher since the Great Depression. NY Times (stats, stories, trends, etc.)
Toxic Waters NY Times
WikiLeaks from the Guardian (UK) The Guardian is one of the five newspapers with which WikiLeaks is cooperating
Of war
Iraq Dispatches Dhar Jamail’s unvarnished coverage of the Iraq war
juancole.com good weblog for news on Iraq. Cole is a professor at the University of Michigan, and very well-informed on goings-on in Iraq.
Voices in the Wilderness ‘formed in 1996 to nonviolently challenge the economic warfare being waged by the US against the people of Iraq. Voices continues its work today, acting to end to the US occupation of Iraq.’
Al Jazeera Arabic news site. Much less filtered than mainstream U.S. media
the Guardian (from the UK) weblog special page on Iraq
freerepublic.com conservative weblog
support our troops a mishmash of stuff supporting the military effort
Young Americans for Freedom Here’s some background
think tanks of various stripes
Public Citizen Non profit consumer advocacy group. “Public Citizen does not accept funds from corporations, professional associations or government agencies.”
Center for American Progress Liberal think tank–extensive coverage of current events, 9/11 commission, Iraq War. They have a very nice database of claims versus facts from the White House and beyond. Pick a topic, a speaker, and enjoy!
PRwatch trying to keep the PR industry honest. By the authors of ‘Trust us, we’re experts!’ They even have a ‘Spin of the Day‘ page
Cato Institute Conservative think tank. Cato’s mission is to “increase the understanding of public policies based on the principles of limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and peace.”
Heritage foundation Conservative think tank. Heritage was founded in 1973 by brewery magnate Joseph Coors together with prominent activist Paul Weyrich and wealthy benefactors Richard Scaife and Edward Noble.
American Enterprise Institute Conservative think tank. “The Institute is an independent, nonprofit organization supported primarily by grants and contributions from foundations, corporations, and individuals. AEI is strictly nonpartisan and takes no institutional positions on pending legislation or other policy questions.”
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Excellent for critiquing White House statistical manipulation, and shedding light on economic policy spinjobs.
Brookings Institution Centrist think tank. Check out some of their funding sources. “The Brookings Institution is an independent, nonpartisan organization devoted to research, analysis, education, and publication focused on public policy issues in the areas of economics, foreign policy, and governance.”
Commonweal Institute Liberal think tank. “The Commonweal Institute is a multi-issue research and educational institute – a think tank – and communications organization committed to advancing moderate and progressive principles through message leadership and strategic marketing and aggressive communication of ideas.”
Take Back the Media Ecclectic assortment –the chronology of 9/11 is worth checking out
google directory search on 9/11 Brings up many sites that focus on events surrounding 9/11
Media reform information center Lots of resources, links on this site
Alternative media watch left-leaning, some highly regarded authors
townhall.com this is mission control for the right-leaning authors
Center for justice and democracy for the other side of the ‘tort reform’ debate
google’s news search great place to get the latest news stories–this filters out all the other kinds of websites you’d normally get with a google search.
Doctors without borders A humanitarian group that often enters after natural and human-caused disasters
some media watchdog sites
alternet.org‘s media culture page a wide variety of stuff on this page, mostly left-leaning
factcheck.org Okay site for seeing some of the distortions floating around; I find it reflects mainstream biases, though
mediawatch This is a ‘meta’ site that links to other watchdog sites
FAIR Fairness and accuracy in reporting. Respected analysts and critics of journalistic ethics
mediachannel.org from their site: “MediaChannel is a media issues supersite, featuring criticism, breaking news, and investigative reporting from hundreds of organizations worldwide. As the media watch the world, we watch the media. “
moveon.org revolutionizing grassroots political activism
Reclaim the media Works to change media policy, support citizen journalism, and cultivate media literacy.
Buffalo Report excellent site for sniffing out pure propaganda
spinsanity an equal opportunity site for criticizing the deceptive use of spin in the media (they go after the left or the right)
mediatransparency.org excellent site for looking to see who’s behind what organizations. Especially good for looking at the money behind think tanks.
AIM (Accuracy in Media) from them: “AIM is a non-profit, grassroots citizens watchdog of the news media that critiques botched and bungled news stories and sets the record straight (without that nuisance of rigorous documentation …) on important issues that have received slanted coverage.” They forgot one thing: corporate-sponsored.
CPJ Committee to Protect Journalists (from others, not from themselves), especially deals with journalists working in combat zones
Independent Press Association ‘the alternative to monopoly media’
Astroturf Alert! You may think it’s a grassroots organization, but can you see the roots? Here’s wikipedia’s description and here’s Sourcewatch’s.
google directories If you’re looking for a specific kind of site, this is a good way to search (try this one)
open secrets Another site that tries to peel off some of the layers of secrecy that have shrouded government activities in recent years.
Index on censorship Fighting a global war against censorship.
Univ. of Texas media watchdog reviews Students were assigned to critique different sites–you can at least see what they thought of them (some critiques are better than others), and what other campuses are looking at with respect to mass media.
Republican spin generator Thanks for bringing up the site in class, Cassandra. Write your own spin. This is actually pretty useful for understanding some of those key themes that politicians try to focus the public on.
adbusters unusual critique of advertising industry
newshounds They watch Fox, so you don’t have to!
Media matters good at uncovering deception and untruth, mostly from the right (the deception, that is). Up to date. Founded by David Brock, a neocon turncoat.
FrontPageMag David Horowitz is on a well-funded junket to expose liberal thinking in academe
American politics journal ‘pundit pap’ This is an entertaining, but pretty insightful analysis of spin. To the left.
Newswatch ‘news about the news’
media research center ‘The Leader in Documenting, Exposing and Neutralizing Liberal Media Bias’
freedom forum ‘interactive museum of news’
center for media and public affairs analysis of the news
Newsweek watch an analysis of some of the anti-feminist perspectives that find their way into the weekly news magazine
truth in media homemade in every way . . . always good to be wary of entities that claim truthfulness in their names
Pew research ctr for the people and press Pew does lots of public opinion polling–reasonably balanced site
chronwatch ‘media watchdog and conservative news site’, targeting the San Francisco Chronicle
daily howler one of several fact checkers–will hit from the right or left
American journalism review by the College of Jouranlism at the University of Maryland
on the media good critique site–the stories are provocative (from a public broadcasting station)
who’s lying? Don’t read this if you think the right and left are balanced in their use of deceptive tactics …
Nat’l Institute on media and the family focused on the effects of TV on children, mostly
timeswatch Keeping a conservative eye on the NY Times’ allegedly leftist reporting (the Times may be barely left of center …, but it is considered the paper of record–an important source)
sourcewatch.org Excellent site–sort of a reference site for all kinds of media chicanery–you can search it for individuals, groups, etc.
ZNet’s alternative media page ZNet has an extensive page of links to alternative media sites
ZMag print periodicals right column on this page–many interesting, alternative sites
newspapers, sites
AP newswire good source for fastbreaking news. Many news outlets subscribe to AP and run their stories in their own papers.
Christian Science Monitor centrist, good reputation
CNN right-of-center Time-Warner site
Financial Times from the UK; probably the most respected financial newspaper in the world
Fox News Unofficial news agency of the White House? You decide.
MSNBC owned by GE, using Microsoft technology, right-of-center
New York Post owned by Rupert Murdoch–way right of the Washington Times
New York Times maybe slightly left-of-center (except for war coverage)
Wall Street Journal Accessed through Pierce Library, and now owned by Rupert Murdoch
Weekly Standard This is an influential paper/site. Editor William Kristol is one of the spokespeople for the neoconservative movement.
newsmax conservative news site
USA Today Pretty centrist
WorldNetDaily One of the most incendiary right wing news sites this side of Rangoon (depending on which direction you’re traveling)
Washington Post slightly left-of-center (war coverage has been to the right, though)
Washington Times to the right–ever heard of Rev. Sun Myung Moon?
Some international sites
Asia Times The further from the U.S., the more bold the journalism becomes
al Jazeera an important news outlet in the Arab world
UK indymedia UK’s version of indy media
imra covers events in the Middle East
Nigeria indymedia center among others–there are lots of independent media sites
Ananova from the U.K.–has good offbeat stories
BBC BBC radio is the choice of much of the world with short wave ( from the U.K.)
The Guardian daily from the U.K.
BBC BBC radio is the choice of much of the world with short wave ( from the U.K.)
Globe and Mail from Canada. It’s actually sort of conservative. For Canada (but liberal in comparison with mainstream American papers).
Non commercial news sites
Alternet What is says, pretty much; there is also a Media Culture page that is interesting.
Asheville Global Report Endorsed by Project Censored
Bag news notes ‘where the left wing can get pretty graphic.’ He analyzes photos in the news.
Center for Digital Democracy Using the internet for something besides pushing products …
Counterpunch also with news and opinion from the left-of-center
Common Dreams Common Dreams is a ‘filter’ news site–it picks up stories and editorials from other outlets around the world. Pretty liberal. The news articles are on the left and right columns; opinion in the middle.
Consortium News Run by investigative journalist Robert Parry
Democracy Now! Amy Goodman’s campaign to take back the media from corporate control. Radio, TV and Web
ExiledOnline Lots of irreverence, they take a special interest in uncovering BS (sort of a low-budget Daily Show)
The Hill A good source for news on Congress–especially stories you won’t see in–guess where?? The mainstream press!
Indymedia What is says–again, you’ll see much here that you won’t see elsewhere (this is the DC site)
independent media center links to lots of independent media sites from here
National Public Radio They’re heavy on audio files–I’d recommend listening, low end of your dial, mornings and after 5:00 pm.
One World Read what the rest of the world deals with. Be forewarned: you won’t find much on Ben and J-Lo here.
Open democracy Good source of news you won’t find on commercial sites
Pacific News Service News you’ll get few other places. Check out their newswire, too. They are a source of diversity and ethnic news.
ProPublica Public interest journalism, good freelancers–they break stories regularly
Reader Supported News You’ll find few of these stories in mainstream press (from co-founder of Truthout)
TomDispatch An excellent source for investigative journalism and smart reporting from Tom Englehart et al.
Third World Traveler if you didn’t think the American mass media was missing something, you will after you see this site (although American mass media misses almost everything but the commercials). They have a hodgepodge of interesting pieces on this site–it’s a web-based box o’ chocolates
trust.org Thomson-Reuters–calls itself the world’s humanitarian news site. A wide variety of kinds of news covering all corners of the globe.
The Grist Decent source of environmental news.
National Review Influential old-conservative (as opposed to neo-conservative)
US Indymedia
Truthout sort of like commondreams–left-of-center site with news, opinion
Tompaine independent web news site (left-of-center)
Web logs (blogs–where does that news go that doesn’t pass through network filters, you ask?)
All Spin Zone good BS detectors . . .
Americablog Covers politics well, but also has an interesting perspective on issues affecting the gay community.
atrios / eschaton Atrios is a 32 year-old recovering economist . . .
Bring them home now War protestors, includes postings from soldiers who are in Iraq or who have finished their duty
The carpetbagger report ‘Reality-Based Commentary, Analysis, and Tirades on Politics in America’. Infrequent but intelligent.
Crisis Papers Smart political commentary. They also collect what they consider the best arcticles of the week.
Left-leaning blogs Recommended by the Crisis Papers web authors–a good list
Right-leaning blogs Here’s a list from the QandO blog
Cyberjournalist Good coverage of Iraq, among other things–links to other sources available, too
Daily Kos good current ‘anti-news’ coverage
Danny Schechter’s News dissector good blog site for analyzing the news; Schechter’s good at war coverage
Free Iraq From an Iraqi scientist
Healing Iraq “Daily news and comments on the situation in post Saddam Iraq by an Iraqi dentist”
Huffington Post Arianna Huffington’s weblog–she has an affinity for going after corruption and scandal
juancole.com good weblog for news on Iraq. Cole is a professor at the University of Michigan, and very well-informed on goings-on in Iraq.
Mark Crispin Miller Covers issues that are largely ignored by mainstream press-right now focusing on voting machine fraud. Miller is a media and TV critic, and a professor at New York University.
LeanLeft the title says it all–critical of the current White House
What is blogging ? a short CNN piece)
Iraq Dispatches Dhar Jamail,s unvarnished coverage of the Iraq war
Iraq the Model This is a pro-American blog (and this is a story about it)
Plastic.com one of many blog, or weblog, sites–they have lots of breaking political stories you won’t see in many outlets
Science blogs This is a good resource–if you’re checking out some issue relying on scientific expertise, you’ll probably find it discussed on one of the many weblogs accessible from here.
Tapped From the American Prospect–good news analysis, especially on welfare issues
Media Citizen Covers news but in the context of the broader battles over corporate influence in mainstream media
Political Animal Kevin Drum from Washington Monthly. Good discussion of hot political issues.
loadedmouth.com Left o’ center, rich in sarcasm
the Gadflyer good dissection of the news (leans left)
Ezra Klein there was a schism at the gadflyer . . . (left-leaning)
Keith Olbermann He’s network (MSNBC), but hasn’t been fired yet . . .
Pandagon ‘we bring angry things to light’ (well, life, actually. or left.)
Slashdot.com another blog site. Focuses a bit more on tech stuff.
Warblogs what it sez (mostly left)
Talking points memo Josh Micah Marshall (left-leaning–good spin analysis–try to forgive him for supporting the Iraq invasion for so long)
Wonkette.com Interesting stuff that is must-read for political types in DC–hard to pigeonhole the wonkette (Ana Marie Cox).
The Volokh Conspiracy news analysis from the right . . .
rogerailes Wanna learn spin? This is the man behind Fox News Network
Michelle Malkin air-blown feedback from the right
Powerline from the right
Technorati This is an interesting site–it’s a search engine of weblogs–so find out what’s being discussed right now. I linked to the politics page.
Instapundit more news analysis from the conservative side of the spectrum
Columnists of some repute (not saying what kind …), w/ online articles
Townhall (mission control for conservative columnists)
Arianna Huffington Good on covering corporate welfare, slime and pork
Matthew Miller Good on health care–he’s a moderate liberal who comes from corporate America. Very good at detecting BS in mainstream press
Molly Ivins Knows George W. Bush like her own nephew …
Michael Kinsley moderate liberal–very smart
David Ignatius writes on international issues
Mark Morford (pop culture cynic extraordinaire–very entertaining writer to boot
Paul Krugman NY Times–neocons hate him–find the ‘columns’ link on the top left. He’s on vacation until the new year (2005)
Joe Conason’s Journal a respected and feared investigative journalist
Marie Cocco good on health care, BS detection
Dave Barry save the toilet! He’s funny, but for the last several years has repeated too many booger jokes–too bad he can’t get ‘seriously funny’ occasionally
Ann Coulter Looking for right wing slander and character assassination? Ann’s your woman. She claimed for a long time to be a constitutional scholar. Her style is, well, literary homicide?
Charles Krauthammer never met a neoconservative he didn’t like …
Robert Parry good investigative journalism, especially on Iraq (this is a link to some of his stuff on truthout)
Frank Rich NY Times columnist–very insightful views on the media (he’s now ‘subscription only,’ but truthout carries many of his pieces)
Seymour Hersh excellent investigative journalist who writes for the New Yorker–a few columns can be accessed from this page
Eric Alterman a mainstream critic of mainstream media.
Greg Palast one of the most feared and fearless investigative journalists. He broke the story of the Flordia election theft in 2000, and has broken several on this year’s election as well–few covered in mainstream outlets, of course.
Karen Kwiatkowski pronounced Katowski–she served in the Defense Department and knows how the system works. Interestingly, she’s a traditional conservative, but an eyewitness to the Iraq War propaganda machine.
Matt Drudge best on the Web for unfounded rumor and innuendo. He has broken some pretty bogus stories over the years, and is seen by many as a mouthpiece for conservatives looking to smear one of their critics.
Magazines
The American Prospect good for coverage of welfare issues
The Nation Monthly magazine that is doesn’t depend on corporate advertising
The Atlantic Monthly cerebral, left of center
In These Times independent, good writing
Mother Jones includes some ads these days, but still covers the uncovered
The Progressive what it says …
Monthly Review warning: may contain intellectuals
Washington Monthly very good longer pieces–thoughtful magazine
Annals of improbable research comic relief for the scientist
Daryl Cagle’s cartoon index lots … mostly political cartoons
Rush Limbaugh Making the most of his second chance
Red Herring edgy tech stuff
Weekly Standard Read what Karl Rove reads! And then read about Karl Rove!
Vanity Fair Almost always a good article online in every issue
Corpwatch trying to hold corporations accountable
Out There News a different, global kind of journalism–you need to see it to understand
TrueMajority focusing the electorate’s outrage
Sun Magazine good interviews–much is not on the Web, though
New Yorker excellent, but only a few articles are posted online
Harpers A few things online, good print magazine
Miscellaneous
FAIR fairness and accuracy in reporting–a respected media watchdog site
Spinsanity BS watchdogs, the site’s now archived
Clear Project bills itself as the ‘anti-environmental watchdog group,’ rooting out greenwashing and astroturfing
The Daily Howler committed to rooting out lame journalism
Project Censored systematically and rigorously covering the uncovered stories
MIT Project “Audits of conventional wisdom” takes on the Iraq War, U.S. Foreign Policy, ‘war on terror,’ the global economy, etc., challenging conventional assumptions in mainstream media.
The Spin Project Can spin be used for good ???
AIM most underreported stories (from a conservative flak shack viewpoint … don’t expect the sort of rigor project censored displays)
Economic policy institute Excellent analysis, deconstruction of public policy
Snopes.com for ‘true’ chain emails, especially where the sender swears they’re true
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shedding credible light on economic policy spinjobs
PRWatch devoted to exposing corporate and public PR and BS
The Onion political (and non-political) satire
The Sentencing Project ‘promoting reform in sentencing law and practice, and alternatives to incarceration. Almost anyone can find something here of interest.
Whitehouse.org the ‘unauthorized site’–definitely funnier, perhaps more accurate …
Center for Public Integrity studies issues of privatizing public resources
Congress.org write letters to your representatives–they may not read them, but they can count