July 20, 2021

The Park Center for Independent Media circulates the Indy Brief. Subscribe for a weekly selection of news stories from journalists operating outside traditional corporate systems.

The Edge

Why Media Is Complicit in the Ongoing Opioid Crisis

The United States has set a new, grim record: Throughout 2020, the scourge of opioid addiction raged alongside Covid-19, taking 93,000 lives—the largest one-year increase ever recorded.

Drug overdose deaths have been steadily increasing in the U.S. for decades, taking more lives each year than car accidents, HIV/AIDS and gun violence (an impressive statistic if you know anything about gun violence in America).

Yet despite this massive and preventable loss of life, mainstream media has left out of its coverage the role of manufacturers, prescribers, and the criminal legal system in perpetuating the overdose epidemic.

Read the full report on The Edge

How Media Is Distorting ‘Critical Race Theory’ to Spur Outrage

Right-wing panic over “critical race theory” has come to a head in news media and politics over the past few months, as conservative organizations use the once-obscure term to generate outrage and score political victories.

Critical race theory is a decades-old academic framework that examines the impact of systemic racism on American society. In summer 2020, Fox News began a campaign falsely painting CRT as “racist,” “Marxist,” and punishing to white people.

Since then—and coinciding with one of the most significant civil rights protests in decades—the network has been fearmongering about CRT, resulting in right-wing panic, a Trump executive order, and Republican bills attempting to ban its teaching.

Read the full report on The Edge.

PCIM Launches Archive of The Media Consortium

The Park Center for Independent Media is hosting materials from The Media Consortium on our website for the benefit of students, researchers, academics, and journalists. TMC operated for 14 years as a multi-platform network of collaborating independent organizations spanning media including magazines, radio, television, online, and more.

The materials in this archive were generously provided to the center by Jo Ellen Green Kaiser, Executive Director of The Media Consortium from 2011-2018. These materials document the day-to-day operations of The Media Consortium in posters, meeting notes, brochures, mission statements, lists of members, and other such items.

Read more about TMC’s coalition of independent media outlets here, and view its archived materials here.

PCIM’s Summer Interns at Indy Outlets

This summer, PCIM is sponsoring eight brilliant young journalists to work with independent media outlets and immerse themselves in non-corporate media production and distribution systems. Through the program, interns are hard at work at indy outlets including the Institute for Public Accuracy, FAIR, and The Laura Flanders Show.

Keep up with our interns’ work on PCIM’s TwitterInstagram, and Facebook, and read more about their summer pursuits here.

From the Archives: Journalism in Times of Pandemic and Protest

One year ago, PCIM hosted a panel of four esteemed voices in media to discuss the national protests for racial justice following the murder of George Floyd. Their insights remain relevant a year on, as the pandemic and racial reckoning continue to evolve.

Andrew Buncombe, chief U.S. correspondent for The Independent, detailed his arrest at a Seattle Black Lives Matter protest. D.D. Guttenplan, editor of The Nation, described the changes the outlet navigated amid the pandemic, and remarked on rising science denialism.

Independent media at the time offered more comprehensive framing than mainstream news regarding communities of color, according to Montclair State University assistant professor Tara L. Conley. And Amanda Silverman, newsroom editorial director of Mother Jones, outlined the site’s strategy for covering news with available reporters.

Watch the full panel discussion here and read more here.

More from The Edge

On White Grief and Reparations

“Our political imaginations must find a way to make the impossible, possible.”

Zillah Eisenstein, Professor Emeritus of Anti-Racist Feminist Theory at Ithaca College, writes on the “unfathomable cruelty” of America’s history of slavery and misogynist racism, driving urgency for reparations to “give back what should not have been ours in the first place.”

“To repair is to reimagine human connections and possibility. To be able to know and grieve the wrongs done is one of our most genuinely human potential qualities—it allows us to feel and see and know and imagine a more complete humanity.”

Read Eisenstein’s full meditation on slavery and American history.

Media’s Vaccine Misinformation Problem

The extremely contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus has been spreading across the globe as vaccination rates lag. The U.S. is no exception. Reports from different parts of the country indicate that even fully vaccinated citizens have been susceptible to the variant. 

Unvaccinated people still face far higher danger—as shown in Maryland, where 100% of residents who died to COVID in June were unvaccinated. In the U.S., nearly 50% of the population is fully vaccinated, even as conspiracy theories and misinformation encourage the other half to avoid receiving shots.

Lies peddled by right-wing media and proliferated on Big Tech platforms influence the entire planet, and must be combatted to vaccinate the world.

Read the full report on The Edge.

Fox News Forecasts Disinformation with New Weather Channel

Amid record heat waves, early hurricanes, and wildlife die-offs that look like mass extinction events, Rupert Murdoch has decided to double down on denying climate change in the worst possible way: launching a full-time weather channel called Fox Weather. That’s right, blatant climate denialism, fossil fuel propaganda, and conspiracy theories about scientists wanting to shrink children will soon be broadcasting across America 24/7.

A 2019 analysis by Public Citizen shows that 86% of all climate-related segments aired that year on Fox were climate denial claims. While the network contends that climate change is bad, it isn’t for the reasons scientists give, but imagined issues of exploiting children and controlling people.

Read the full report on The Edge.

In Other News

1. Covid cases rise to 32,000 a day as Delta variant sweeps through US (The Independent)

2. Jeff Bezos Knows Who Paid for Him to Go to Space (The Atlantic)

3. Total COVID-19 Cases Rise To 71 At Tokyo Olympics (HuffPost)

4. Oregon Bootleg Fire: Evacuations as largest US fire burns 364,000 acres (BBC)

5. Companies claim there’s a labor shortage. Their solution? Prisoners (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.