Good News/Bad News: A Manifesto for Independent Media
Good News/Bad News: A Manifesto for Independent Media
By ROAR Collective / roarmag.org
Jan 7, 2014

We live in extraordinary times. All around us the old world is crumbling, while the new one struggles to be born. Crises and catastrophes are rocking our planet like never before. Rebellions and revolutions are stirring the system to its very core. And yet, while the tidal waves of history keep battering the shores of our collective imagination, the guardians of the 1% keep telling us not to worry: "there's nothing to see here folks," editors, advertisers and news anchors gently implore, "just keep moving along."

The Bad News

With the global rat race speeding up to a fever pitch of self-destructive hyper-activity, humanity now faces an unspeakable challenge. Let's start with the bad news. Dignity and democracy are under attack everywhere. And while the people rise up in defiance -- whether through mass popular insurrections or small acts of everyday resistance -- those in power keep telling us to look the other way: to our mortgages, our credit cards, our student loans, our increasingly crappy jobs and shitty pay, and, most of all, to "them": the big corporations and powerful politicians, grand icons of market fundamentalism and loyal servants of its one and only deity: Mammon. The God of Money.

And so, even as world-historic events shake the very foundations of the Earth, the real news keeps being drowned out by the deafening silence of the media’s corporate agenda. The profit motive reigns supreme as the ultimate arbiter of value. Everywhere we look, people and nature are relegated to instrumental categories at best, and total economic and journalistic irrelevance at worst: cut out of newspapers and government budgets, jammed into Excel spreadsheets and sent off for auction to the highest bidder -- to be packaged and delivered at a private yacht or penthouse apartment by tomorrow afternoon. And whatever tricks they conjure up to keep this system from destructing itself, the bubbles only seem to grow bigger and bigger -- up to the point where, with a sudden sigh and a silent shriek, it all says "pop".

But until that day comes, we seem to be stuck inside their web, wiggling and wrestling, but never truly breaking free. The media’s mindless dissemination of the dominant discourse, its sensationalist propagation of the spectacle, and its constant celebration of consumer culture render most of us either numb, apathetic or both. Over two decades after Herman & Chomsky's seminal book, The Manufacturing of Consent, the immense ideological power of the mainstream media remains one of the fundamental pivots around which the everyday reproduction of global catastrophe revolves. “Hear no evil, see no evil” stands as the dogma of our era, in which the public exploits of multi-millionaire celebrity kids like Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber apparently count for more than the seemingly endless struggles of the millions who risk their lives in historic revolutions and the everyday pursuit of bread, freedom and social justice.

Breaking the hold that the ruling elite still has over our individual minds and our collective imagination requires us to first of all break out of the informational and ideological net they have cast around us. As the Spanish indignados put it: “turn off the TV and turn on your mind!” Only by tuning out of the white noise that continues to pollute our thoughts and cloud our vision, and only by replacing this never-ending flow of mind-numbing nonsense with our own alternative channels of counter-information, can we begin to bypass the neural pathways of obedience that the elite’s propaganda has systematically engraved into our brains. The realization has come that it's up to us to report and reflect upon the revolutionary changes taking place in our world; the 1% clearly won’t do it for us!

The Good News

Now, the good news is that we already have the tools for this. We live in a time not only of grave political and economic crisis, but also of rapid social and technological change. One doesn't need to subscribe to old-fashioned technological determinism to see how the tools we wield alter the ways we interact with the world. It may be a cliché by now, but it's crucial to remember that, back in the days of the printing press, publishing was still centralized. Few people could afford the kind of upfront capital investment needed to purchase their own press and just start printing -- only capitalists, parties and maybe some of the bigger trade unions could do that. Independent publishing remained confined to the samizdat and the local anarchist leaflet, read by a few dedicated dissidents at best. The same goes for the era of television and to a lesser extent radio (where pirate stations sometimes played a subversive role).

Today, things are radically different. One of the great contradictions of late capitalism is that the very information technologies (laptops, smart phones, digital cameras) that allowed the system to reproduce itself beyond the decline of the Fordist model in the West, are now empowering dissidents to create their own media with which to contest the dominant order. Of course these new technologies don't make revolutions -- people make revolutions -- but they do help us to report and reflect on them in a more dynamic and democratic way. Hypothetically, at least, everyone with a laptop and an internet connection is now a potential publisher; everyone with a camera and a shoestring budget a potential guerrilla filmmaker. The trick nowadays is not so much to produce independent content -- but to do it the right way. To aggregate the right type of information. To ensure in-depth analysis and high-quality content. And, most of all, to formulate a thorough critique of the status quo and provide credible alternatives to the crisis-ridden world we inhabit.

ROAR very much grew out of the convergence between this crisis of global capitalism and the quiet media revolution that has been unfolding at the grassroots. Unemployed and equipped solely with a laptop, we set out to reflect on the revolutionary wave that began with the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt and that continued through the European anti-austerity protests to the global Occupy movement and on to the most recent mass demonstrations in Turkey and Brazil. Throughout all of this, our aim and philosophy have remained the same: to provide grassroots perspectives from the front-lines of the struggle for real democracy, which for us revolves around the principles of autonomy, horizontality, self-organization, workers' control, openness, and social solidarity.

It is with these principles in mind that we have been actively reporting and reflecting on the social mobilizations that have been stirring the globe for the past three years. And it is with these principles in mind that we have committed ourselves to keep struggling -- through ROAR and any other means at our disposal -- for the realization of the world we wish to see. It is obvious that getting there won't be easy, and we may never even succeed. But this much is clear: if we don't find ways to circumvent the elite's propaganda apparatus, in the form of the mass media and mainstream academia, we are unlikely to convince anyone else that this other world is not only possible, but desirable. And if we don't find ways to connect our various national struggles by articulating a global critique of the capitalist world-system and a radical vision of a post-capitalist society, we will be forever doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Be the Media!

The somewhat tacky but nevertheless paramount slogan of the media activists in the alterglobalization movement was: "don't hate the media; be the media." Back in the day, this meant setting up and maintaining the various national Indymedia forums -- autonomous spaces where activists could come together to strategize and share counter-information. Today we do not really have any "centralized" hubs like Indymedia anymore. What we do have is a proliferation of independent media collectives that are all more or less working in the same direction but that nevertheless remain relatively scattered. Of course it is neither possible nor desirable to jam all these initiatives into a single overarching framework. But we can -- and indeed we must -- start collaborating more actively between one another and across borders: by solidifying our networks, intensifying the exchange of content and ideas, and one day maybe even pursuing a strategy of voluntary federation into something resembling "One Big Union."

Only by collectively constructing our own autonomous nodes and networks of communication, only by generating our own participatory platforms to mediate other ways of seeing things, other ways of engaging with the world around us, can we liberate ourselves from the mental incarceration forced upon us by those in power. This, at the most fundamental level, should be the role of a truly independent media: to inform critical thought and inspire constructive subversion. To identify the epochal changes and tectonic shifts that are already stirring deep below the social surface. Not to "give a voice to the voiceless", but simply to amplify the powerful voice of the unheard. To promote complex thought, in-depth investigation and critical analysis where the global trend is towards an unequivocal dumbing down. To charge forward where the old guard desperately clings on to its last-remaining vestiges of authority. And, ultimately, to anticipate the unexpected -- so that when the day finally comes, we will be able to rise like lions and lionesses to seize the day and meet the challenge.

In the hope of contributing our share to the struggle, ROAR has drawn up some very exciting plans for 2014. We want to prove that we, the people, are perfectly capable of building our own high-quality independent media outlets from the grassroots up -- without taking a single penny from corporate advertisers or the state. To be able to to this, we really need you to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign we just launched. Only with your support can we guarantee the continued existence of ROAR as a tireless advocate of democratic empowerment, and the evolution of our independent media project into an exciting new direction.

4.0 ·
2
Trending Today
Globalization Makes No Sense
Chris Agnos · 5,375 views today · When I lived in San Francisco, I often would marvel at the movement of goods through the ports across the bay in Oakland. Full container ships would enter the bay one after...
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 4,194 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
Proof of Evolution That You Can Find on Your Body
4 min · 3,888 views today · Vestigial structures are evolution's leftovers — body parts that, through inheritance, have outlived the context in which they arose. Some of the most delightful reminders of...
Those That Did Not Seek Revenge
Dr. Ann Russo · 2,418 views today · Dr. Ann Russo on violence, healing, and transforming justice.
DAPL Opponents Vow to 'Rise' From Ashes of Oceti Sakowin and Keep Fighting
Lauren McCauley · 2,279 views today · 'They cannot extinguish the fire that Standing Rock started,' Dallas Goldtooth declared
The Foiled Bomb Plot in Kansas That Didn't Make Trump's Terror List
5 min · 1,250 views today · When a plot by a pro-white militia to bomb a Somali mosque in Kansas was foiled by the FBI last October, the aborted conspiracy received little national coverage - nor did it...
Stunning Small Homes Form Part of a Communal Compound for Best Friends
Lighter Side · 1,097 views today · If you’re lucky enough to have longtime friends even as an adult, then you know probably already know how much it means to be able to spend time together. Maybe you even have a...
Without Saying a Word This 6 Minute Clip From Samsara Will Make You Speechless
6 min · 913 views today · Can you put this video into words? It's a clip from the phenomenal documentary Samsara, directed by Ron Fricke, who also made Baraka.  If you're interested in watching...
Where the Term "Redneck" Came From
15 min · 828 views today · If you don't know this story, you'll never look at the word the same again.  This is just a window into the sometimes shocking, subversive and untold history of the United...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 787 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 736 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
Compassion, the Antidote
Martin Doblmeier · 682 views today · Thich Nhat Hanh has published nearly 100 books and is one of the best-known teachers of Zen Buddhism in the world today. In the early 1960s his practice of what he termed...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 617 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min · 597 views today · When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 593 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Michael Moore Wants to Help You Find Your Next Anti-Trump Protest
Sarah Ruiz-Grossman · 539 views today · The Resistance Calendar lists upcoming rallies across the country.
10 Words Every Girl Should Learn
Soraya Chemaly · 466 views today · "Stop interrupting me."  "I just said that." "No explanation needed." In fifth grade, I won the school courtesy prize. In other words, I won an award for being polite. My...
Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch
Mark Greene · 402 views today · Homophobic prohibitions against male touch are hurting straight men as well.
Immigrants For Sale (2015)
33 min · 373 views today · The detention of migrants has become a multi-billion dollar industry in which immigrants are sold to the highest bidder and traded like mere products. The Corrections...
The Most Astounding Fact about the Universe
3 min · 366 views today · This is Neil Degrasse Tyson's response when asked to describe the most astounding fact about the universe. Background music is the cinematic orchestra - To build a home.
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Good News/Bad News: A Manifesto for Independent Media