Progressives desperately need to walk their talk. It is the one thing that has most not taking them seriously. You cannot on one hand rail against corporate entities and on the other hand accept their ads. I've been in the web business since the 90's and you don't make that much off of these ads.I titled this article walking the talk versus walking off the cliff because I think the above email is a call to walk off the cliff and, while it's well intentioned, it is also impossible.
You have a great many who write and use your site for their own purposes. It's time for them to walk their talk as well. In order to be successful Progressives must walk their talk. We have enough of those that say one thing and do another, thus our country is in the toilet now. Set a shining example....walk your talk. It won't be easy but you want to make a stand then make it. Have you thought about reaching out to mom and pop folks for ads?
Go back to the average Joe and help them. Support ads for mom and pop businesses. You won't be able to do it overnight, but lets work towards that. I know many sites that refuse corporate ads. They state that in their info....and they have been around for years. They support the average Joe.
There used to be a lot of progressive sites that didn't take advertising. Now there are very few large or mid-size ones-- truthout.org, commondreams.org, thinkprogress.org, mediamatters.org. The few that don't take advertising get a lot of contributions from private donors and/or foundations. They do that by having huge mailing lists and by exerting a lot of top-down control on content. Thinkprogress is published by Center for American Progress, headed by former Bill Clinton Chief of Staff Tony Podesta. CAP has over $10 million in funding from major democratic donors like George Soros. They also publish far less content than the sites that do run ads. At one point, truthout had a $500,000 grant from one foundation. Mediamatters.org is also well funded by wealthy progressives, to the tune of over a million a year.
Many of the top progressive sites , perhaps MOST DO operate with the support of advertising, like opednews.com, dailykos.com, firedoglake.com, alternet.org, thenation.com, huffingtonpost.com, rawstory.com, talkingpointsmemo.com. glenn greenwald, fivethirtyeight, crooksandliars.com... scores of progressive blogs.
The site I run, OpEdNews.com uses about 30 volunteer editors to assess articles submitted by well over 1500 writers a year. Those editors have no benefit from those ads and are not influenced by the advertisers in any way. Diary submitters are unmoderated entirely, though we do reserve the right to delete diaries, and actually have deleted maybe one out of 5000 submitted, usually for hate speech or potentially libelous content that puts the site at high risk of litigation. The sites that do not accept advertising tend to be more top down, with a lot less articles and a lot more top-down influence on what gets selected and included. That's an approach with a long history. But our more bottom up approach is enabled by our freedom from the dictates of big funders and foundation support that comes with caveats and pressures to conform.
it MIGHT be better to not run corporate ads, but we can't do that now. We routinely block ads that are offensive to our values. We cannot block political candidate ads because we are a non-profit and cannot be partisan.
The idea of dropping ads in order to walk the anti-corporate talk is like walking off a cliff to walk the talk. This idea of walking off a cliff to walk the talk is not just reserved for opposition to big corporate power.
In the relocalization, transition town and locavore movements, the goal is to buy more locally made and grown and sold products from local owners of small businesses. I'm a firm believer in this and routinely try to find local sources for goods, services and food. I know people who are religious about this and I've spoken to leaders in the field. They tell me that they are making progress if they can buy 10-15% locally made, grown or sold. It is impossible to do it all, 100% that way. We need to create the demand for the relocalization / transition town / locavore economy. Creating the demand, making the creation of new, local businesses to serve that demand possible is how we move up the percentages.
I'm involved in a new project aimed at creating a divestment movement that targets health insurance companies. The project's goal is to cast health insurance companies that fund lobbyists who oppose health care for all as pariahs, in the same league as tobacco and munitions manufacturers, polluters and supporters of apartheid. Should people who participate in this divestment movement cancel their health insurance policies to walk the talk? No. There is not viable solution for them...yet. But that doesn't mean that they are not walking their talk.
The writer who spurred me to write this article suggested that my site should throw out corporate ads and only take ads from mom and pop sites. We tried that before we went with the ad system we have now. The result was we had almost no advertising. There aren't enough mom and pops, not enough progressive businesses to support the progressive media. We'd love to see more. They haven't shown up.
I've called for primarying Obama because I don't believe he's walked his talk. My critics, and there are many and they can get very nasty, suggest that I shouldn't call for him being primaried without having some to suggest replace him. I disagree. I can claim that Obama cannot win and does not deserve to run and we should primary him WITHOUT having a person to suggest, though I have a few. He totally failed to walk his campaign talk, appointing status quot White House advisors who sided with the banksters not the middle class.
We need to create the space to think about this in order to open up potential candidates to think about it and to get supporters to start encouraging candidates. Some accuse progressives of not being satisfied with enough. The progressives I know are unhappy with Obama for what he's DONE, not for what he's not done. I think, if you look at what we, the progressive advertisement-accepting media DO, rather than wanting us to NOT DO the taking of ads, you'll find that we are walking the talk in major, substantive ways that are or will make a difference.