You might be interested in my interview with Paul Jay, chair of IWT, on Daily Kos.
Online TV News: New Independent World Television News Network To Launch
"Fear runs stronger in every American newsroom -- and I mean every American newsroom -- now than any time that I'm aware of in my career," he said. Politicians "have learned that the press indeed can be intimidated," and corporate owners have placed profits over the public good, he added.
(Source: Baltimore Sun - Dan Rather, September 2005)
Democracy depends on an informed and engaged public and on a courageous press that holds those in power accountable. Yet on television, where most people get their news, propaganda and spin are reported as reality and facts are treated as just a matter of opinion.
Today, most television news are nothing but well-packaged propaganda clips delivered to increasingly numbed television audiences as if that was the objective "reality" existing out there.
True investigative journalism, reporters digging into difficult and uneasy issues, open debate and criticism of world events from multiple viewpoints are seldom heard. Timidity and a reluctance to challenge the official version of events permeate television newsrooms.
We must not sleepwalk. We must not consume television and newspaper news as if it was God's word. We need television, online and print journalism that dares to seek truth and does not bow to political or financial pressures.
But something new, again, is happening:
Independent World Television is building the world's first global non-profit independent news network. To be called "The Real News", IWT will deliver online and on traditional television independent news and real debate - without funding from governments, corporations, or advertising.
- No corporate dollars.
- No government funding.
- No commercials.
- No strings.
It is with the dignity and integrity of such premises that IWT is indeed preparing to launch a massive public support and membership campaign, starting this September (2006), to bring The Real News to both television and the web-based audiences.
As many of you well know, serious news and diversity of opinion -- on which democracy depends -- are rapidly disappearing from television.
Across the globe, news media ownership is concentrated in the hands of a few conglomerates whose economic needs dictate news coverage. They promote superficial "infotainment" and one-sided reporting over tough investigation, context and holding authority accountable.
Public broadcasters face shrinking budgets and growing political and commercial pressures.
In this light the Independent World Television wants to be a non-profit broadcast network television news service financed by viewers across the globe -- independent of corporate or government funding and commercial advertising.
IWT plans to broadcast on satellite, digital TV, the web and via multiple public and nonprofit channels. In the U.S., IWT will be broadcast via Link TV, a channel which is already available in over 26 million homes.
Citizen journalism will bring insight from people around the world. Informed by a commitment to social justice while respecting diversity of opinion, IWTnews will focus on news other media ignore or suppress, and on individuals and groups that are transforming the world.
But the greatest challenge for up and coming IWT is how to raise the money needed for this project.
The people behind IWT strongly believe that their idea can be publicly funded, by simply leveraging the power of millions of small donations of individuals who believe and want stronger and more numerous independent news channels from which to learn about their interests and concerns.
In their view, the Internet allows millions of people to band together to raise capital to compete with corporate media outlets. As a matter of fact, they bring as an example the economic power of the 15 million people worldwide who demonstrated on one day in 2003 against the war in Iraq, which, if replicated, could certainly make the IWT project possible and sustainable over time.
Other promising examples in this direction have been the Internet fundraising success of MoveOn.org, the Howard Dean presidential campaign and the Tsunami relief efforts. All these show that when people believe in a cause they are willing to donate.
What IWT strongly believes is that by relying on millions of small donors, it can achieve the economic independence that makes uncompromising journalism possible. Time will tell whether such times are indeed upon us.
If you would like to contribute to this project now, IWT has already set up several ways to do so.
For now IWT is focused on launching a major awareness campaign in which the new IWT web site and its contents play a major role.
To better understand how IWT is going to create and develop its ambitious plans a "business plan" document has been available for everyone to download. This bold road map is the product of more than two years of study, testing, consultation and relationship- building and it lays out a concrete vision for how IWT will launch early next year (2007).
For a preview of what this is all about, go check out www.TheRealNews.com.
A few, very interesting video interviews are already accessible and viewable directly on Real News.
A few personal notes
IWT / The Real News needs to embrace fully the opportunities offered by participastory citizen journalism, grassroots distribution approaches, including P2P, RSS, video sharing, citizens contributions, content syndication and more, I don't see IWT going much beyond the hybrid position so far conquered by CurrentTV.
Too bad, that in this alternative and independent effort to spread alternative news, IWT has not embraced some of the key traits that characterize open, non-commercial, viral and distributed content delivery approaches which would allow for a much faster and wider reach.
For example video interviews now posted on IWT are cannot be easily syndicated or republished anywhere else. This centralized model, which is going to suffer inevitably from the variety and extreme granularity of non mainstream news, may be, in my humble view, IWT weakest trait today.
Unless these news can be easily spread, in a customized and personalized way to the many interested niche audiences out there, IWT may be competing for attention and air space in which the competition is orders of magnitude stronger and more experienced.
IWT talks about primetime as if there was still, for a global television channel in the era of PVR and TiVos, a dedicated time zone and a prime-time slot. Primetime is a term used to serve the advertising market and its interests. In an open, up-to-darte uninfluenced news network prime-time is anytime. Their first priority is the creation of ITWNightly. A primetime news show covering global news.
ITW, like traditional television appears to still hold too much interest in centralizing its news production.
I personally think that the true first independent digital news channels, of which there are no major examples yet, will work the opposite way, by leveraging a highly distributed network of contributors, reporters and citizen journalists as well as utilizing internal editors, distributed around the world to aggregate, edit and comment mainstream news clips while juxtaposing opposing viewpoints or adding useful and complementary information often missing from them.
What do you think?