Legal Insurrection

Having William Jacobson in class the other day was really informative and interesting. He, like many bloggers, began by pointing out the bias of the mainstream media in their coverage of the 2oo8 presidential election. Jacobson was discomforted by the lack of coverage on conservative candidates, and took it upon himself to fill in that gap. His webpage, Legal Insurrection, still strives to give the conservative perspective on issues.

Beginning a blog is only the first hurdle of handling a website. To get a larger audience, Jacobson would write for other webpages and link them back to his site. He would also contact other bloggers by email, and request recognition from larger pages. With this strategy LI gained one million viewers in 11 months.

Soon, Jacobson realized that in order to update his content enough, he would need the assistance of other writers. He recruited a student, and then hired some free-lance online contributors to make his site more active. Within a few months, with the revenue from ads, he and his staff were putting out a $5,000 dollar website.

The ads are provided by a supplier based on keywords in the stories. This can become interesting when positive liberal candidates and ideas pop up on the page, because they are mentioned negatively in a few articles. However, they don’t solely rely on ad revenue for their page. They also conduct fundraisers and provide a donate button so that their fans can fund the site.

This blog like others has more freedom with their content, which allows them to take the time to do investigative stories, and cover things that the mainstream cannot. Jacobson specifically mentioned their coverage of Elizabeth Warren, the Treyvon Martin case and elections that they could cover hour by hour instead of other topics. However, while they can cover these topics more thoroughly, they also have a more difficult time getting access and interviews. This is interesting, because even though they don’t have the ability to talk to primary sources they still put out information. I personally have issue with the accuracy and accountability that is lost when this happens.

I learned a lot chatting with Jacobson about his work, and it was an insightful look into how private blogs are set-up and run.



Turning a Hobby into a Job

While most writers struggle to gain notoriety and make enough money to fuel their passion, others are fortunate enough to gather a following of other people that share their interests and fuel their passion simply by creating a blog. By exploiting a niche in the internet, they are able to turn their hobbies into their livelihood. 

This slideshow was interesting because it illustrates the difference that blogs have made in the lives of these individuals without them needing the assistance of a company or publisher. The authors of the blogs are 100 percent in control of the content of their blogs, but they still get to make money and share their thoughts with others. 

Most of the blogs were funded by advertising revenue. The blogs’ topics make it easy for advertisers to get an audience that would be more likely interested in their products, and therefore the space is in high demand. Its more productive to put a cat food ad on a blog about silly cats instead of on a random paper with an unknown audience.

I found this interesting, because most of these authors had no intention or premonition that this fame would come with their blogs. Simply by filling a hole in the internet, they are able to do what they love and make money doing it. 


Audience Funding

When independent producers of films want to begin a new project they usually begin by asking banks and large donors. This method however can backfire quickly if enough funding isn’t provided or if the donors expect to have their opinions expressed in the film. When Jim Gilliam was asked to raise funds to produce a Greenwald film, instead of using this model, he branched out and decided that something a bit different would be more productive. 

Gilliam decided that instead of asking uninterested parties to donate to a cause they had no interest in, he could raise even more money by asking their fans to support their efforts. His innovation paid off, and eventually the film was completely donor funded. While some increments came in large quantities, most of the donations were between 20 and 100 dollhairs. 

This, contrary to popular belief, is not such a radical idea though. Many independent newspapers back in the day were not funded by their price or ad sales, but by their readers who wanted to know more about what the paper had to say. When the product has a need, and fills a niche in a community there will be sufficient interest to fund it. 

The role of independent media is to inform the masses about what is otherwise brushed under the rug. This funding model is so perfect for what independent media aims to do, because it puts VALUE on information that the mainstream media has deemed worthless. By letting fans choose what they want to support, independent is better tailored to their interests and needs. 


FCC Withdraws Media Survey

I thought this was a very interesting story because it deals with the government trying to diversify media by tracking it and subsequently regulating it. Does that make sense? 

The FCC’s survey proposition was met with opposition and will not be enacted, but skeptics of the proposal are nonetheless upset. Would this government insight into media affairs lead to it having a more prominent role in the news?…(as if it could get any more prevalent.) Or, on the plus side, would regulations promoting women and minorities create a newsroom with less of a “locker room mentality” and open the doors for a more unbiased take on the news? 

I find it interesting that in independent media minority opinions are the backbone of many outlets, but in the mainstream these voices are silenced so much that the government would feel the need to intervene. 

While I do dislike the lack of diversity in traditional media outlets, I do not think it is the government’s duty to diversify these corporations. The government is already too cozy with reporters, and if they are allowed to regulate one aspect of the media then I fear that it would soon spread to other management and content related specifications. 

Independent media has the strength of thousands of voices already involved with sharing the most important stories in the most meaningful ways, regardless of gender and ethnicity. If the government really wanted to diversify the news we receive, they would increase their support for other outlets like NPR, instead of threatening to take away their funding. 


Reaction to “Mexico’s revolution will not be televised”

“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?” -Kurt Vonnegut

This was an interesting article because it dealt specifically with how the mainstream media limits the news distributed to the public. Vonnegut expressed that the public needs to question and fear authority, but according to the “Yo Soy 132” movement, we also need to be weary of those who are responsible for distributing crucial information. “They’re working to stage a democratic revolt against an almighty establishment of another order: television,” said Flannery. I have always been interested in how information is filtered by the mainstream media to conform to their politics, agendas and sponsors but I had no idea to the extent of their willingness to sell out. 

This specific instance was a blatant manipulation of the media by a candidate because his party had the means to pay off the television stations. Independent media sources were able to band together against this tyranny and form a more level playing field. The movement was made possible because of social media platforms on the internet. Even tough many households did not have access to the internet, college students and those who did were able to spread the word about the dismissed candidates. By looking for information outside of traditional media they are educating themselves about the actual truth and real issues facing Mexico. 

The resolution to the story is hopeful, because the TV stations eventually agreed to host an actual debate… but I am left with many unsettling questions. Blogging is a necessary element to the political world today because we are fed so many half-truths and opinions, but with many still left in the television era, how can the actual truth survive? I am uncomfortable with the friendliness between money and media, and this furthers my speculation that we are all being brain washed into “perfect citizens” in order to fit society’s standards. Does blogging really have the staying power to fight these media giants? How will the dismissal of the Net Neutrality law affect how we are able to find information for ourselves? 


Reaction to “Big Election Winner: Indy Media”

This article was a more in depth look at the issue of millennials and how we use the news. 2008 was the fist election that I could legally participate in, and like many others of my generation, I was very excited. We had the opportunity to discuss issues that were important to us like healthcare and women’s rights, and to do so we went to the internet. We shared, liked and commented on social media websites because we actually had a chance to make a difference in the outcome of the election.

In a book I am reading for another class, Poindexter’s “Millennials” she also documents the vast impact of the internet on the 2008 elections. People were enticed to follow the candidates because they were interesting, and relevant. Democrats and Republicans brought out their best news connections to feature their best attributes and the shortcomings of their opponents, but in the end CNN, FOX and other traditional media sources had no affect on the outcome. Bloggers, social media enthusiasts and behind the curtain reporters were able to bring us the true meaning of the candidates in a way that allowed us to make informed decisions better than in the past.

Independent Media is not motivated by the power of money or fame, but by curiosity. Where the mainstream left a gray area, the bloggers were able to fill it with their own reporting and honesty. Would we have ever heard  Obama’s backhanded comment about the Midwest if it weren’t for Fowler? Would it have been a much more debated contest if “McCain’s Mansions” wasn’t released? How did these leaks affect the outcome of the elections? We can’t be sure of the answers, but in my opinion we would have had a much different election if it weren’t for social media and independent reporters.