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Defending a Truly Free-Press: the Case for Independent Media, Part I

Despite every ounce of digital censorship that’s going on today, whether it be the jimmied algorithms on Google, the purges on Facebook and Twitter, or the demonetization, suppression and deletion of channels on YouTube, there is still a significant amount of high-quality independent journalistic content being produced and distributed via the Internet.

This means that political free thinkers continue to have a fighting chance to get non-sanitized news and political ideas into the public sphere. This page is the first of three I’ll be creating, intended to provide a habitually updated directory of sorts, where people can go to discover non-corporate, independent socio-political publications, as well as individual journalists, activists, economists, historians and political thinkers.

Please use the comments section here or on Medium to let me know about additional outlets. I will be updating this page with new information as often as possible. 

This is a way to not only recognize other independent sources of news and analysis but to also foster a spirit of collaboration in order to enhance our collective voices.

(As full disclosure, I am a non-partisan thinker with no allegiance to isms, but I definitely skew left. My chief concerns are the health and well being of all humans and the ecosystem on our home, the planet Earth. Invariably, this directory will reflect my biases. It’s only fair that I be clear about that. Independent outlets that truck in hate, boostering of specific political parties/politicians, excessive faith in electoral politics, Trump obsession, or adherence to rigid ideologies are not likely to see representation here)

Now that my cards are on the table, let’s get this directory underway with both semi- and fully independent publications of news content and political analysis. We’ll start with 1) online publications. Future pages will focus on 2) individual journalists/writers and 3) video channels and podcasts

The More Established Players

Truthdig

This is a publication run by editor and writer Robert Scheer, who is a well-known progressive journalist, famous for editing Ramparts Magazine, a major anti-establishment journal during the height of the 60s counterculture. Truthdig is a fairly diverse publication, with weekly opinion columns from left luminaries like Paul Street, Chris Hedges and economic thinkers like Nomi Prins, as well as full sections on national and international politics, social and environmental issues, the military, and more. Articles come from both Truthdig staff writers and other publications as reprints.

The Intercept (with caveats)

Although its editor-in-chief is Betsy Reed, former executive editor at longtime progressive magazine The Nation, the Intercept is owned and influenced by billionaire tech oligarch Pierre Omidyar, who has a history of involvement with and support of the military-industrial complex and the surveillance state. In the past, the Intercept has burned sources and run many deceptive propaganda stories. However, Omidyar’s influence over the publication is not monolithic. Famous writers like Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill (also founders), as well as others such as Naomi Klein, Lee Fang, Briahna Gray and David Dayen continue to do some excellent independent work. As such, it’s worth keeping the publication in rotation, albeit skeptically.

Truthout

Edited by prison reform advocate Maya Schenwar, Truthout is a solid progressive left publication that focuses on national and international politics, the environment, the economy, war and peace, prison and policing, education and culture. They boast progressive domestic-focused editor/writers like William Rivers Pitt (who gained popularity during the Bush years) and Dahr Jamail, who has written great stuff for years on politics and war in the Middle East as well as the impact of global warming worldwide. They have a lot of good contributing writers, among them popular Marxian economist Richard Wolff and left intellectual Henry Giroux.

Counterpunch

Since its founder, leftist British writer Alexander Cockburn passed away in 2012, Counterpunch has faltered. Under editors Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank, the publication has developed an ideological rigidity and arrogance that has put off a lot of readers (they also publish very few non-white, non-male writers). Over the past few years, instead of embracing changes in progressive political thought, they wasted time and energy running hit pieces on increasingly popular independent journalists like Caitlin Johnstone, mostly based on willful misconstruing of her decidedly non-ideological writings. Nevertheless, the publication continues to run work by some great left-oriented thinkers such as Anthony Monteiro, David Swanson, Mike Whitney and Rob Urie, as well as longtime Middle East correspondents like Robert Fisk and accomplished European-focused writers like Diana Johnstone. While many of their articles are written in academic styles that can be a slog to wade through, there is still insight to be found in the publication.

Consortium News

Founded in 1995 by veteran investigative journalist Robert Parry (passed away in 2018), who was instrumental in bringing the 80’s Iran-Contra affair to public attention, the non-partisan Consortium News, now edited by Joe Lauria, focuses on U.S. foreign policy, the deep state, U.S./international politics, media criticism and more. The publication has broken numerous stories over the years—debunking Russiagate most recently—and is one of the most respected in independent media for its attention to detail and adherence to the facts. Unlike left-media outlets such as Counterpunch, Consortium has embraced new non-ideological journalistic talent and is currently publishing the work of independent journalists Caitlin Johnstone and Suzie Dawson. Highly recommended.

Black Agenda Report (BAR)

BAR was founded in 2006 by veteran journalist/activists Glenn Ford (current executive editor), Bruce Dixon, Margaret Kimberly and Leutisha Stills. With both in-depth audio and written content, BAR is one of the most non-partisan and authentically radical publications on the Internet, focusing on domestic U.S. politics, the U.S. empire, and international news and politics from a historically informed far left black perspective. The work of all four writers is, in my humble opinion, must-read. They have also just begun to publish the work of Ethiopian born journalist and Ghion Journal founder Teodrose Fikre. Must Read.

TomDispatch

Founded in 2001 at the beginning of the Bush years by Tom Englehardt, TomDispatch focuses much of its work on commentary related to U.S. empire behavior and a bit on domestic politics and the environment. Non-ideological, the publication regularly runs articles by conservative historian Andrew Bacevich, as well as progressive and classical liberal historians such as Nick Turse and Alfred McCoy. You’ll also find work by progressive writers and environmental pieces by Dahr Jamail and professor Michael Klare. Though its initial early 2000s energy seems to have dissipated a bit and the design could use a major upgrade, there’s good stuff here, especially from university-affiliated writers.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

Longstanding media watchdog nonprofit, FAIR takes a deep look into media professionalism/truthfulness and bias, as well as national and international politics and social issues. A respected independent organization that publishes work from known writers such as Adam Johnson and Sam Husseini.

Media Lens

Operated since 2001 by Englishmen David Edwards and David Cromwell, Media Lens spends most of its time on original articles and fact-checking the mainstream media—from a progressive, anti-empire perspective—on issues such as politics, culture, and foreign policy.

In These Times

Taken directly from their mission statement, In These Times is an independent, nonprofit magazine dedicated to advancing democracy and economic justice, informing movements for a more humane world, and providing an accessible forum for debate about the policies that shape our future. Originally founded by historian James Weinstein in 1976, the magazine is now edited by Jessica Stites and continues to focus on U.S. news and politics through a progressive, pro-worker lens. Solid, in-depth domestic news found here.

Dissent

Dissent, which has both a print and online edition, is a pro-labor progressive left magazine that’s been around since 1954. If you’re interested in labor issues, leftist political theory and history and news from an internationalist perspective, dissent remains a high-quality resource.

Jacobin Magazine

Available both in both print and online editions, Jacobin (edited by Seth Ackerman) might be described as the mainstream of American socialist journalism. While the pub has critics that fault its lack of gender/racial diversity and focus on class issues that avoid factoring in how race functions in the U.S., there is still a lot of strong analysis and in-depth reporting coming from its writer pool. Worth keeping tabs on

World Socialist Website

Despite its obvious ideological bias, WSWS is an excellent source for in-depth labor news from around the world and some very solid analysis of global political issues. Chock full of content, most of it well-written, you can learn a lot by going down their particular socialist rabbit hole.

Information Clearing House

Horribly named but potent news and commentary aggregator, coming from an overt global justice/left perspective, Information Clearing House, founded In 2001, is a great place to go for headlines you won’t see on mainstream media and for commentary from a wide variety of thinkers, journalists, historians, comedians and more. Focuses on issues related to foreign affairs, empire and the environment. Recommended.

Electronic Intifada

Founded in the early 2000s, the Electronic Intifada covers issues related to the experience of Palestinians under occupation, the politics of Israel, the greater Middle East and U.S. impact on the region. A great resource for getting on-the-ground perspectives from a critical part of the world.

Grist

Founded in 1999 and currently edited by former chemical engineer Nikhil Swaminathan, Grist is a longstanding independent media outlet firmly focused on the facts of climate change and social justice activism related to that issue. To get a deeper understanding of what’s happening with the climate, pollution, corporate malfeasance and mainstream political inaction, there are few better resources.

Z Magazine

Founded all the way back in 1987 by folks from South End Press, Z Magazine, znet and Z Communications are classic international anti-authoritarian leftist publications. In the early days of the Internet, they were one of the most reliable places to find essays by Noam Chomsky. You have to be a contributor to see their most recent issue, but back issues are free to read. Perhaps past its prime, but still has some worthy content.

 The Newer(ish) Folks 

Wikileaks

The elephant in the room of independent media, Wikileaks and its founder, embattled new-tech savant Julian Assange, have pioneered a truly digital- and primary resource-centric approach to journalism. Offering an anonymous way for individuals to leak a wide variety of government and corporate documents, Wikileaks then takes that material and organizes it into a searchable digital database for anyone to make use of for the purposes of research, self-enlightenment and investigative journalism. Countless journalists and researchers from both the corporate and independent press owe some of their best work to Wikileaks.

Disobedient Media

With editor-in-chief and writer Elizabeth Lea Vos at the helm, Disobedient Media has made a real impact in indy media in just two years time. The small post-partisan publication focuses on the global machinations of the U.S. national security state and its intelligence agencies, as well as on domestic issues such as political corruption, election rigging, propaganda/media criticism (re: Russiagate, in particular) and perhaps most notably, Wikileaks and Julian Assange. Vos has a close working relationship with New Zealand-born journalist-in-exile Suzie Dawson, working with her throughout 2018 on both the influential Unity4J online vigils in support of Julian Assange and #DecipherYou, a deep exploration of the files leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Work from Disobedient Media also appears routinely on new social content platform Steemit and in the libertarian-inflected publication Zero Hedge.

Contraspin & Spin Bin

These linked publications are the primary repositories for the work of Suzie Dawson, former Occupy activist and journalist from New Zealand, now investigative journalist-in-exile, living in Moscow. Up until the beginning of 2019, Suzie was the prime mover behind the successful online Unity4J vigils in support of Julian Assange. Her work focuses on the clandestine activities of the U.S. empire, its hydra-headed intelligence apparatus and its affiliates/vassal states, as well as international whistleblowers and renegade media organizations such as Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange. Her work is characterized by a deep understanding of computers and Internet technology and extensive primary-source research that informs lengthy, heavily annotated exposes. Her work is also now appearing in Consortium News. She is a close colleague of both Elizabeth Lea Vos, editor-in-chief of Disobedient Media, and Joe Lauria, executive editor of Consortium News. Highly recommended.

The Ghion Journal

Co-ounded in 2016 by Ethiopian born writer Teodrose Fikre and Betty Beke, the Ghion Journal is a post-partisan peace-oriented publication that focuses on U.S. domestic politics and foreign policy, with an eye on calling out political theater, identity politics, the donor class and the military industrial media complex. The journal is also concerned with societal/political evolution and how to dismantle systems of oppression. Ghion features the work of Fikre, as well as writers Bree Hood, Stephen Boni (that’s me), socialist/activist Rainer Shea and a growing cast of other new voices.

21st Century Wire

Founded and currently edited by journalist Patrick Henningsen, the UK-based, sometimes libertarian-inflected 21st Century Wire focuses on war and peace across the globe. In the past coupe of years, the publication has paid particular attention to other issues including Brexit, the Grenfell Tower collapse in London, Wikileaks and the plight of Julian Assange, and media propaganda issues. The publication also has independent British journalist Vanessa Beeley on staff. As some might know, Vanessa is one of only a few English-speaking journalists (also Eva Bartlett) to spend time on the ground in Syria and she has become known as a major exposer of the purportedly humanitarian group The White Helmets as a UK- and U.S.-funded terrorist and propaganda outlet used to justify western proxy war efforts to take control of that country.

Mint Press News

Founded and currently run by veteran journalist Mnar Muhawesh, Mint Press News, in syndication partnership with a group of other activist-oriented left indy media organizations, focuses on original reporting and investigative work related to the U.S. empire, domestic U.S. politics, and media criticism (around issues of censorship and the deep state). They’re known for digging deep to find information and have broken many stories over the last few years. Their main staff writer is Whitney Webb, but they also use a roving cast of other political writers and reporters, including Canadian investigative journalist and on-the-ground Syria reporter Eva Bartlett. Highly recommended.

The Grayzone Project

The brainchild of journalist Max Blumenthal, the Grayzone Project focuses on investigative reporting and in-depth analysis of U.S. foreign policy, propaganda and politics in Central and South America, among other topics. The project also provides a home for the written work of Real News video/TV journalist Ben Norton and other writers from both the U.S. and abroad. A progressive publication with a decidedly internationalist sensibility.

Moon of Alabama

This publication grew out of the popularity of one of the early publications of the blogosphere in the early-mid 2000s called Billmon’s Whiskey Bar. Created and operated by a gentleman called simply Bernhard (who writes many of the articles), the site mainly focuses on U.S. foreign policy, militarism and international politics. The articles on Moon of Alabama are characterized by detailed knowledge of military history and strategy, geopolitics and how foreign affairs are conducted, and what motives lie behind actions taken by world powers. The site also has an uncommonly civil and sophisticated commenting audience, who deepen each piece with thoughtful and informed perspectives. Highly recommended.

Zero Hedge

Created by Bulgarian-born, U.S. educated writer and former stock/bond trader Daniel Ivandjiiski, Zero Hedge debuted in 2009 and publishes articles by a roving cast of additional writers. The site is known for covering politics and international affairs through then lens of economics, with a special focus on the behavior of corporations and financial markets. With a discernible libertarian/anti-authoritarian rightest leaning, Zero Hedge has a substantial audience and publishes some very interesting work.

Naked Capitalism

Another popular economics-focused site, founded, run and written by financial analyst Susan Webber (writing under her pen name, Yves Smith) Naked Capitalism looks at national and international politics through the vantage point of economics and from a progressive perspective. The site features work from many guest writers, including well-known indy journalist Matt Stoller.

Novara Media

Founded by writer Aaron Bastani and video-maker James Butler, Novara is a fully staffed left-oriented publication based in London that focuses on capitalism, racism and climate change from an internationalist perspective. The site is notable for strong, historically informed analysis and a writing staff diverse across gender, nationality and race. Novara is also rich in content, with multiple podcasts and video segments adding depth to the written articles that underpin the site.

Occupy.com

A nonprofit media organization associated with the Occupy movement from 2011, Occupy.com offers a variety of independently written articles and curated work from other sites, focusing on economic justice, politics, the environment and organizing. The site also hosts video programs (such as Eleanor Goldfield’s “Act Out!”) and numerous podcasts.

Strategic Culture Foundation

An independent journal founded in 2005 and dedicated to covering Eurasian and global affairs. Most analysis comes from a multipolar-supporting anti-empire perspective. Come here for in-depth geopolitical analysis from a small editorial staff and a wide variety of contributing writers.

The Anti Media

A non-partisan anti-establishment news organization and content aggregator founded by Nick Bernabe and edited by popular YouTuber Cary Wedler, Anti Media focuses mostly on U.S. news and opinion. They also have a variety of audio programs to choose from. Fun site.

The Canary

The Canary is a fully staffed independent publication edited by well-known British political blogger Kerry-anne Mendoza. The site focuses on U.S., U.K. and global news and opinion from a left progressive perspective. There’s a lot of good stuff here.

The Voltaire Network

Started by French intellectual Thierry Meyssan and based in Lebanon, the Voltaire Network offers in-depth essays and articles from an array of international scholars and journalists, largely focusing on international relations. Analytical and left-oriented, this has proven to be a very interesting and informative site.

Web of Debt

This is a economics/political blog, a vehicle for finance professional, author and progressive economist Ellen Brown, who has become one of the U.S.’s most vocal advocates for publicly owned banks. In addition to in-depth articles, the site also features Ellen Brown’s regular radio show. Recommended.

Consent Factory

Largely a vehicle for the political essays of satirist CJ Hopkins, Consent Factory dismantles media propaganda and covers issues related to mass movements and political change away from neoliberalism. Fun, thought-provoking stuff.

Shadowproof

Shadowproof is an activist-oriented publication edited by Kevin Gosztola that focuses on environmental justice issues, prison reform, and national politics. In-depth articles and podcasts/videos focus in on the details around politics and policy. It’s an interesting publication that seems to be trying to build a diverse set of writers and other content creators. Independent Lebanese-American journalist Rania Khalek is a frequent contributor/podcaster.

Countercurrents

This is a publication with a social justice slant and a particular focus on climate change and citizen action (with limited articles on empire and geopolitics). Here you’ll find in-depth pieces on the climate crisis and articles by well-known peace activists such as Kevin Zeese.

Liberty Blitzkrieg

A vehicle for the writing of former financial analyst—now left libertarian—Michael Krieger, a sometimes guest on Zero Hedge (yes, the site name is a bit cringe-worthy). Liberty Blitzkrieg finds Michael focusing on the economy, the financial system and geopolitics. Krieger brings an interesting financial insider’s perspective to his work as a journalist. Worth keeping tabs on.

Latino Rebels

Part of the larger independent media company Futuro Media, which produces radio show Latino USA and a lot of other media, Latino Rebels is a solid mainstream left outlet that covers issues related to Mexico, Central and South America, and the experience of people from these regions who currently live in the United States. Often publishes the work of The Nation contributor and independent journalist Roberto Lovato.

Venezuela Analysis

Founded in 2003 by former TeleSUR English producer and current Real News contributor Gregory Wilpert as well as journalist Martin Sanchez, Venezuela Analysis is a pro-Bolivarian progressive site that produces original news content and curates pre-existing content from other media outlets specifically about Venezuela. An excellent resource for looking outside of U.S. corporate news propaganda about the country.

Brasil Wire

This is a progressive English language site that produces written articles, videos and podcasts about Brazil, its culture, social movements and politics. Very helpful for getting a better understanding of what’s happening in one of South America’s most powerful countries.

The Unz Review

Published by physicist, public policy professional and former publisher of the American Conservative, Ron Unz, this site largely curates work from established but outside-the-mainstream scholars, economists and journalists, ranging in perspective from left progressive to right libertarian. It’s not every day you find a site where Patrick Buchanan sits next to Patrick Cockburn, so definitely worth a look. Here, you’ll also often find the excellent work of left-leaning economist Mike Whitney, who also has a powerful backlog of work at Counterpunch.

Open Secrets (a project of the Center for Responsive Politics)

Open Secrets has quickly become a go-to site for in-depth information about where politicians get their funding, as well for original articles on U.S. domestic politics and international lobbying. Solid news, but even more amazing resources for researchers and journalists.

The Bottom Line:

As I said, this is hardly a comprehensive directory so please use the comments section here or on Medium to alert me to other outlets, especially English language publications about Africa, of which I’m wholly ignorant. In the age of manufactured outrage and pervasive sensationalism that are used to distract the public, it is vital to support and follow independent media as an alternative to corporate propaganda. #FollowFreePress Click To Tweet

Soon to follow will be directories about individual independent journalists and writers, and independent video channels and podcasts.

There is a whole world outside of the mainstream corporate propaganda outlets. Let’s nurture that world!

If you appreciated this article and believe in empowering truly independent journalists who can present analysis without worrying about upsetting corporate sponsors or losing access to mainstream media platforms, consider contributing on my behalf.

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Stephen Boni
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Stephen Boni

Stephen Boni is a writer of socio-political missives, children’s books and emails. Lots and lots of emails. A conflicted New Englander with an affinity for people, music and avoiding isms, he lives in Oakland, California with his wife and young daughter.
Stephen Boni
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