October 30, 2020

The Park Center for Independent Media circulates the Indy Brief, a weekly selection of news stories from journalism outlets operating outside traditional corporate systems and news organizations.

The Headlines

The Izzy Award

Watch Excellent Speeches by Izzy Winners Matt Taibbi, “News Inside,” and CPI (Park Center for Independent Media)

Upcoming Events

Revisiting ‘Objectivity’ in the News (Park Center for Independent Media)

Media Criticism 

My Resignation From The Intercept (Glenn Greenwald)

Article on Joe and Hunter Biden Censored By The Intercept (Glenn Greenwald)

Glenn Greenwald On His Resignation From The Intercept (Matt Taibbi)

Facebook Choked Traffic to Mother Jones & Other Sites While Amplifying Right-Wing Misinformation (Democracy Now!)

Facebook Tuned its Algorithm to Hinder Progressive Outlets (PCIM)

Presidential Election
Iowa polling places are closing due to COVID-19. It could tip races in the swing state. (The Center for Public Integrity)

Analysis: New and Age-Old Voter Suppression Tactics at the Heart of the 2020 Power Struggle (The Center for Public Integrity)

‘Drop It Off or Vote in Person,’ Advocates Plea as Supreme Court Suggests It Could Toss Out Late Pennsylvania Ballots After Election (Common Dreams)

Working-Class America Needs Real Change, Not Slogans (Fair Observer)

War Wasn’t a Campaign Issue. What Does That Mean for the Next Presidency? (Truthout)

Corporate Power

Another Tech Hearing in Congress Becomes a Circus Sideshow (Columbia Journalism Review)

Climate Crisis

No Matter Who Wins, the US Exits the Paris Climate Accord the Day After the Election (InsideClimate News)

The Izzy Award
Exemplary Speeches by Izzy Winners Matt Taibbi, “News Inside,” and CPI

PCIM hosted the 12th Izzy Award ceremony, featuring engaging, incisive, and moving speeches from each winner. Matt Taibbi described how the current media landscape necessitates change from journalists, saying, “No amount of money or fancy credentials are worth it if you can’t say what you want when you need to.”

Lawrence Bartley, Director of The Marshall Project’s “News Inside,” told his story of a 27-year sentence in prison. “Incarcerated people are largely seen as invisible . . . I remember scrounging through old garbage cans to find something to write about,” looking for newspapers prison officers threw away.

Executive Director Carla Minet of Puerto Rico’s Centro de Periodismo Investigativo (CPI, the Center for Investigative Journalism) spoke to the outlet’s commitment to exposing corruption on the island. “From a team with a deep commitment to its profession, we found a place in the media landscape.”

Watch the ceremony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQrcCsQednQ

Upcoming Events
Revisiting ‘Objectivity’ in the News (Park Center for Independent Media)

On November 5 at 6:00 p.m., Jo Ellen Green Kaiser will speak to students about objectivity in journalism. For over two decades, she has worked with independent outlets, and from 2011–2018, she served as Executive Director of The Media Consortium, an association of 80 news organizations. Jo Ellen now runs JGKSF Consulting (jgksf.com), where she helps mission-centric outlets to achieve sustainable revenue.

Join on Zoom.

Media Criticism
Glenn Greenwald’s Censorship and Resignation from The Intercept

Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept, resigned from the outlet on Thursday, after its editors refused to publish a piece he wrote this week criticizing Joe Biden. Greenwald encouraged them to publish the piece followed by their own writing to critique his perspectives. “But modern media outlets do not air dissent; they quash it.”

The piece in question examines available information on Joe Biden’s work in Ukraine and the Biden family’s business in China. It questions the “extraordinary efforts by a de facto union of media outlets, Silicon Valley giants and the intelligence community to suppress these stories.”

Greenwald posted news of his resignation on Substack, the subscriber-based platform where he will continue to publish his journalism alongside his “good friend, the great intrepid reporter Matt Taibbi.” Both journalists are recipients of the Izzy Award: Greenwald won the inaugural award in 2009, and Taibbi the 2020 award on Wednesday.

Matt Taibbi responded to the news on his own Substack page, providing a detailed summary of the events leading to Greenwald’s resignation, with insights into the repressive editorial process.

Facebook Choked Traffic to Mother Jones While Amplifying Misinformation

On Wednesday, Big Tech CEOs were grilled in Congress about censorship of conservatives on social media. The hearings overlooked reports that Facebook altered its News Feed algorithm in 2017 to reduce the visibility of left-leaning sites like Mother Jones.

Ari Berman, senior writer at Mother Jones magazine, appeared on Democracy Now! to discuss how Facebook is “deliberately sabotaging” the outlet’s readership. Berman won the ninth annual Izzy Award in 2017, for reporting on voter suppression.

Read PCIM’s roundup of Facebook’s algorithm changes that dramatically affected the readership of Mother Jones and other progressive outlets.

Presidential Election
New and Age-Old Voter Suppression Tactics in 2020

Through discriminatory tactics that go back hundreds of years, white people have clung to disproportionate political power and wealth. Now, as that power is threatened by demographic shifts and backlash against the president, the effort to rule has become more brazen.

In The Center for Public Integrity’s Barriers to the Ballot Box series, the outlet collects stories of voter disenfranchisement. This latest story rounds up age-old tactics used to suppress votes in 2020, including slowing the mail, speeding up a Supreme Court appointment, not counting people of color in the census, not counting ballots, and reducing polling locations near communities of color while expanding locations in white communities.

Immense lines in Iowa and North Carolina due to sparse or closed polling places illustrate widespread and varied instances of suppression, exacerbated by the pandemic.

‘Drop It Off or Vote in Person,’ Advocates Plea as Supreme Court Says It Could Toss Late Ballots

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court issued decisions allowing Pennsylvania and North Carolina to accept absentee ballots that arrive after Election Day, until November 6. This came as relief to voters and advocates dreading mass invalidation of late ballots, but analysts warn that the possibility remains for ballots arriving after Nov 3 to be tossed by the Supreme Court later.

Common Dreams reports that ballots arriving after 8:00 p.m. on Election Day are to be segregated from ballots that arrive before then. The advice from election advocates and experts: drop off your ballot in person to avoid the mail delays caused by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Find local drop-off sites here.

Working-Class America Needs Real Change, Not Slogans

Carlos FigueroaAssociate Professor of Politics at Ithaca College, dissects the sloganism of Donald Trump and Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential campaign at Fair Observer.

Both Biden’s battle for the “soul of America” and Trump’s “Keep America Great” operate “within a symbolic/performative political frame that supposedly addresses the real needs of the American working people.” But these slogans “perpetuate the bitter partisanship keeping us ‘trampling on each other for our scraps of bread.’”

We instead need a transformative politics to directly answer “concerns of the majority working-class people across race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and civic or legal status now and after the election.”

War Wasn’t a Campaign Issue. What Does That Mean for the Next Presidency?

Joe Biden and Donald Trump sparred over domestic problems of racism, health care, climate change, the economy and the pandemic, and alleged foreign election interference. They did not engage in discussions of foreign policy and the threat of nuclear war, nor did the issues arise during primaries.

Meanwhile, “relations with Russia, China and Iran are the worst they’ve been in decades under the Trump administration. And nuclear war looms more menacing than since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962,” writes Truthout.

It may not have been politically advantageous to bring up nuclear war—but reducing nuclear spending “would go a long way to extending the life expectancy of our species.”

Corporate Power
Another Tech Hearing in Congress Becomes a Circus Sideshow

The last Congressional hearing this summer with executives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter, following a fifteen-month-long investigation by the House Committee on Antitrust, asked meaningful questions of Big Tech.

But a separate hearing on Wednesday with Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, and Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google, degenerated “into grandstanding by politicians who either don’t understand the issues, or were happy to pretend in order to get video clips of themselves grilling a trio of billionaires.”

Columbia Journalism Review notes the incompetence and ill timing at play of the hearing and its topics, including Twitter’s alleged censorship of Donald Trump’s tweets.

Glenn Greenwald with the tweet of the week:
Climate Crisis
The US Exits the Paris Climate Accord the Day After the Election

Regardless of the presidential election’s outcome, the United State will officially leave the 2015 Paris climate agreement on Nov. 4. Without the promise of the world’s biggest historic greenhouse gas polluter to slash emissions, “there’s little hope of meeting the Paris target of averting catastrophic global warming.”

InsideClimate News reports the U.S. could rejoin the pact just 30 days after sending a letter to the United Nations Secretary General, alongside a new national emissions reduction pledge. Joe Biden has said he’d do so early in his presidency.

The Paris agreement aims to limit global warming to under 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, and as close to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit as possible, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. The U.S. was set to exit the agreement one year from when the Trump administration submitted its withdrawal notice, on Nov. 4, 2019.

In Other News

1. Greece-Turkey earthquake – latest: 14 killed as 7.0-magnitude tremor destroys buildings (The Independent)

2. The Pandemic Is in Uncharted Territory (The Atlantic)

3. More People Have Now Voted Early In Texas Than In All Of 2016 (HuffPost)

4. Breonna Taylor: Police officer sues shot black woman’s boyfriend (BBC)

5. Your absentee ballot never showed up. Now what? (The Guardian

Read previous Briefs and more from independent media on the PCIM website, and follow PCIM on social media: Facebook | Twitter

The Indy Brief is edited by Jeremy Lovelett.