Filling the News Hole: Advantage, Left

shallow focus photography of magazines

I’ve always enjoyed reading the lefty press—the honest-to-goodness lefty press, not the mainstream one that masquerades as impartial—because it tends to put a premium on information and sometimes reporting. If that side is indeed more informational than its right-wing counterparts, maybe that’s because the documentary instincts are stronger among the camp that sees its struggle as dialectical. It seeks to establish a record of systemic failure or injustice. The right’s media tend to frame coverage more in terms of cataloguing what it sees as outrageous (usually official) behaviors.

So, on a national scale, I’d look to publications such as In These Times or even The Nation for more grist than I’d expect from, say, National Review. (Here’s a recent item at nationalreview.com that takes issue with the idea it doesn’t do much reporting, though I think it rather supports my description. Suffice to say there’s a mixture of detail and polemics in all the “thought” journals—the balance is what’s in question. At the libertarian end of the right, Reason mag offers a good amount of fiber in its columns.)

On a local level, in New York City, a free print monthly called The Indypendent is worth reading even if labor socialism is not your drink. It has proven to have early radar on the hard-progressive capture of several Democrat and therefore general-election races, going back at least to the AOC for Congress phenomenon. It covered what used to be Quixotic candidacies, and now records victories often as not over the clubhouse machines, particularly in city council districts.

But the “Indy” also spends much literal and digital ink on the agenda of these politicians, attempting to support the case for redistribution of wealth and transparency in the execution of governmental authority and programs. (Spoiler: it finds they frequently serve the interests of the rich and powerful!) A case in point is an extensive package in the current “9/11” issue: “20 Years Later: How the new World Trade Center became a monument to greed and power that most New Yorkers want nothing to do with.”

There’s always been plenty about the plight of BIPOC groups and the pitiful support of arts and environmental collectives. But in any form of community organizing, jaundice must give way to a certain earnestness for change. In the Indy’s case, that’s usually twinned with sophistication about the way things work in the public sector and the prospects for pressuring  private entities. Anybody in town who expects heat from the left should be reading.

As the business of traditional journalism dries up, especially at the town level, this arguable edge of the left in filling the void will grow more important. (Another advantage may be a greater willingness to work for peanuts in support of the cause.) The press is going to supported by benefactors, more than advertisers, and we can already see that shaping up around the U.S. The funding of these local-news collaboratives suggests the right is barely in the game.

Didn’t somebody say knowledge is power?

Published by timwferguson

Longtime writer-editor, focusing on topics of business and policy, global and local.

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