New York, New York: A year ago, in late December, MediaChannel.org honored colleagues and journalists we admire because our heroes deserve recognition. It's not helpful to just trash the media. We know its pervasive influence and all find ourselves copying and forwarding mainstream media columns and reports we like or think others need to read.
The media industry, meanwhile, has a vast institutionalized awards apparatus/culture to honor achievements and praise their own. From the Emmys to the Pulitzers, and soon the Oscars, we are constantly deluged with ritzy festivals and star-studded orgies of adulation and often complacency.
In many cases what is worn to these events gets more notice than the work being feted. (I, for one, am never comfortable around journalists in black tie and made that point some years back by getting one of those statues while festooned in a Tux T Shirt. It made Ted Koppel smile.
At the same time, it is important to celebrate our own heroes if only as role models to what we aspire and from whom we learn. Last year, Helen Thomas, the White House press warrior was our Media Freedom award winner and we were thrilled when she came to New York to personally accept our makeshift statuette. Who can deny our stand up courage over all these decades?
This year we were too poor (make that, "resource challenged") to have another affair even in the wonderful Viet CafÚ that hosted us a year back. (Memories of Vietnam and its parallels with the present sit uncomfortably in every journos brain of a certain generation.) But we are still mindful of the need to honor inspirations and praise those who deserve praise, even in a year when Time Magazine declared that "YOU" are the people of the year for adding your input and ideas to the media mix.
To his credit, Frank Rich, damned TIME with faint praise, noting:
"As of Friday morning, "Britney Spears Nude on Beach" had been viewed 1,041,776 times by YouTube's visitors. The count for YouTube video clips tagged with "Iraq" was 22,783. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But compulsive blogging and free soft-core porn are not, as Time would have it, indications of how much you, I and that glassy-eyed teenage boy hiding in his bedroom are in control of the Information Age. They are indicators instead of how eager we are to flee from brutal real-world information that makes us depressed and angry. This was the year Americans escaped as often as they could into their private pleasure pods. So the Person of 2006 was indeed you - yes, you."
Fortunately, there are many among us, readers and writers alike, who are not fleeing but rather trying to engage with the issues of our times. That's why our top award goes to "WE," that sizable community of concerned people whose protests and perspectives are also missing in most media, downplayed, ignored, and uncommented upon.
Let us then honor those among us who do care, who are blogging writing op-eds, sending comments to editors and websites, digging out untold stories, making documentaries backing indymedia outlet and fighting back against the way show biz has infiltrated and nearly conquered news biz.
Three cheers for those of us who still see the need for solidarity with those in need, empathy for those without, activism on behalf of social justice, and have the guts and gumption to join the fight to challenge big media, resist concentration, demand net neutrality and work to safeguard Internet access and freedom.
Media issues are at the heart of our politics and the center of the battle for democracy. This MediaChannel mantra is now shared far more widely than when MediaChannel opened shop nearly seven years ago. We have spawned collaborators, imitators, competitors and colleagues. We salute them all.
We honor FAIR and Free Press, and Media Matters for America. We are pleased that some of the big guns in public television have finally discovered the media problem and are planning specials and series, albeit without us. Watch for Frontline's take and some hard-hitting films from our favorite media legend Bill Moyers.
We continue to rely on reporting from outside the major media sphere on Iraq from folks like Dahr Jamail and his Iraqi colleagues, from outlets like ICH, INI and Asia Times, and our favorite blogger, Baghdad's Riverbend. We are pleased that Global Voices Online makes the voices of others ]easily accessible. And even though most Americans can't watch it, we are glad that AlJazeera English is on the air and carrying the Listening Post media program that has run some of our videos.
We admire the critical media output of old-timers like Norman Solomon, Molly Ivins, John Pilger, Greg Palast, George Monbiot, Alex Cockburn and Doug Ireland. We are thrilled by the energy of strong women's voices like Jayne Stahl, Linda Milazzo, Larisa Alexandrovna and Sarah Meyer, just to name a few.
And we stand with Bob Herbert of the NY Times when he stands up for justice for detainees at Gitmo and neglected evacuees from New Orleans. If only the news section of the Times reflected his persistence.
On the air we are awed by the steadfast commitment of Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, shows like Mosaic on Link TV, the diversity offered by Free Speech TV and Pacifica Radio, the comic power of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and the occasional special comments by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. And of course: write on Rory O'Connor, my partner in crime.
And what about the aggregating and analysis websites that are there for us, day in and day out? Like Alternet, Buzzflash, ZNET, CommonDreams.org, OpEd News, TruthOut, Smirking Chimp, TruthDig, NiemanWatchdog.org, The Center for American Progress, Media Matters, TomPaine.com, TomDispatch.com, geeze.us, TvNewsLies.org and Direland.com for starters. If you don't know them, find out. If you know of others, let us know.
In fact, that's were YOU also come in, by patronizing, backing, defending and promoting those of us who are, in a terrible time, trying to serve the truth. We are especially grateful to the many readers who send in items and ideas to MediaChannel.org.
I know my list is incomplete (lets blame it on a senior moment) so please share your Media hero nominees by writing MediaChannel.org.
News Dissector Danny Schechter is "blogger-in chief of MediaChannel.org. His latest film is IN DEBT WE TRUST (indebtwetrust.com) Comments and "nominations" to firstname.lastname@example.org
News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org
He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at Amazon.com.