July 27, 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 Headlines

The Edge

The Health Effects of the Gig Economy

Pegasus and the Global Threat to Dissent

“The Main Motor of Capitalism Is the Exploitation of Labor”—Boots Riley

The Media Consortium Archives

Last Week in The Edge

Why Media is Complicit in the Ongoing Opioid Crisis

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

U.S. Politics

Republicans Jeopardize Monday’s Infrastructure Deadline With More Demands (Truthout)

Here’s a Long List of Top Republicans the 1/6 Committee Should Question (Mother Jones)

Go Big Or Go Home: Focusing Only On Jan. 6 Misses The Broader Threat To The Republic (Talking Points Memo)

The Edge

The Health Effects of the Gig Economy

As billionaires have been raking in wealth enabling space sojourns during the Covid-19 pandemic, the average person’s workplace and livelihood have become more precarious. Especially over the past year, the structure of jobs has been shifting to be less permanent and secure.

For The Edge, Jennifer Tennant details the adverse effects of uncertain employment on workers.

Since 2020, an unemployment spike has expanded the reach of the gig economy. These contract, temporary, and freelance workers comprise about 35% of the workforce, up from 14% to 20% in 2014.

Temporary and other precarious work is correlated with negative health outcomes and higher levels of stress and dissatisfaction compared to workers in more secure work environments. Policymakers must expand social safety nets to raise the quality of life for precarious workers, such as seasonal Amazon employees and contractors at Lyft and Uber.

For more on labor and health policy, read Jennifer Tennant’s piece on Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan.

Pegasus and the Global Threat to Dissent

Pegasus software is the primary product sold to government clients by the Israeli cybersecurity company NSO Group. The technology was marketed by the company as a means of combatting terrorism and surveilling suspects. But an international research network of 17 media organizations accessed a leak of more than 50,000 records of phone numbers of people selected for surveillance and uncovered widespread abuse of the technology.

Contrary to the company’s claims, the investigation, named The Pegasus Project, revealed that the primary targets of NSO Group’s government customers were not suspected criminals, but journalists, activists, lawyers, and politicians.

Read the full report on The Edge.

“The Main Motor of Capitalism Is the Exploitation of Labor”—Boots Riley

Boots Riley—musician, labor activist, and director of the critically acclaimed film “Sorry to Bother You”—discussed organizing, social change, and connections between art and justice during Cornell ILR Union Days this April.

Speaking to the crucial need for organized labor, Riley said, “Boycotting does not do enough economic damage to actually change anything. Striking does.”

Riley unraveled the complications of his art as commodity under capitalism and remarked that independent media is “an important way to document and promote what’s happening with radical movements.”

Watch the full video on PCIM’s YouTube page.

The Media Consortium Archives

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. Among the impacts of the organization was that it “proved that large scale cooperation and collaboration among independent media outlets—a culture that had not previously existed—was possible.”

Maya Schenwar, the editor in chief of the 2021 Izzy Award-winning publication Truthout, served as the chair of TMC’s coordinating committee for several years. “TMC amplified the work of each independent media outlet by connecting us together,” she said. “We reprinted each other more, lifted up each other’s work, collaborated, and even helped each other fundraise as a result of TMC.”

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

More from 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.

U.S. Politics

Talks to Finish Infrastructure Bill and Jan. 6 Hearing

Republicans objected to Sen. Chuck Schumer’s filing to wrap up details and advance the bipartisan infrastructure package last week. Every Republican voted against advancing the bill, making it fall far short of the 60 votes it needed to move to debate on the floor. Now, with several issues still on the table, negotiations are ongoing to salvage the bill.

Meanwhile, the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection holds its first hearing Tuesday. TPM asks: “Will the committee tackle the entirety of the Big Lie-driven conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election, or focus narrowly on the events of Jan. 6?”

And while ample video evidence and police accounts exist to disprove the GOP lie that the rioters were peaceful, the tougher task fort the committee will be “investigating what Trump and his minions did in the months, weeks, days, and even hours leading up to the assault” and what action Trump and his aides took, or didn’t, during the riot.

In Other News

1. Capitol riot hearing – live: Liz Cheney calls Taylor Greene a ‘disgrace’ as her pro-rioter demo is shut down (The Independent)

2. What Does California Owe Its Incarcerated Firefighters? (The Atlantic)

3. Judge Intervenes After Lawmakers Use $65,000 Of COVID-19 Aid On Bonuses (HuffPost)

4. Leverkusen blast: German chemical plant explosion leaves one dead (BBC)

5. Lawyer Steven Donziger found guilty of withholding evidence in Chevron case (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.