|Image Courtesy of Vancouver Media Co-op|
The following is the transcript of a recent email interview I did with Michael Edwards, the co-founder of ActivistPost.com. In the interview we discuss alternative media, its influence on the mainstream, and how people can get involved.
1. Tell us about yourself.
My name is Michael Edwards; I am the co-founder of ActivistPost.com. My background is in editing technical manuals, magazines, non-fiction books and websites. I’m in my early 40s, married with one child.
2. How would you define alternative media?
I would primarily define alternative media as independent journalism, free of corporate or government sponsorship and direction. In terms of ideology, alternative media has a wide range of political views, but tends to be less focused on the traditional left-right political paradigm present in corporate media. I would also say that alternative media tends to promote individual activism as a core principle; learning new information is not enough in our view, it is essential to DO something with that knowledge.
3. How did you get involved with alt media generally and specifically with Activist Post?
I have been questioning the official version of events for 15 years, but 4 years ago I really wanted to contribute my own point of view to the various topics. I started a small blog and began submitting my work to the larger outlets at the time. Most of my articles were reposted, so I gained confidence that I could increase the amount of time that I devoted to writing. I met Eric Blair and he had a vision for how to widen our presence. We agreed upon the name of Activist Post and formally launched our site in June, 2010.
4. Do you think that the alt media has had an impact on MSM narratives in the past several years?
Yes, in one key way: forcing them to respond to our information. As the strength of our information populates the Internet, more people are questioning what they hear in traditional outlets. The stage of ignoring the information has passed. While the MSM narrative is always going to be one that spins information to their corporate directives, this has caused a couple of significant developments: 1) An increased desperation to shut down debate through labels like “conspiracy theorist” and/or attempted control of the internet. 2) A shift of political message toward the center (independent) by the traditionally left and right wing media.
Both reactions only make matters worse for them as it begins to more blatantly reveal very scripted agendas that are beginning to sound more uniform every day. As a result, we have seen strong mainstream media figures like Ben Swann and Amber Lyon, just to name a couple, who have entered independent alt media with their own unique voices.
5. Where do you think you personally and Activist Post fit within the general alt media scene?
From the beginning we wanted to provide a platform for not only the aggregating of information and analysis, but also a platform for debate. We often post articles with opinions that we are either unsure of, or even disagree with, specifically so that all of us together can develop better critical thinking skills. Having an open mind is essential. The topics that alt media covers are extremely serious and complex. While we do have our own strong opinions, we felt it was critical not to become a flipped version of mainstream media with blind followers who just take our word for things as the gospel truth. We heavily source our articles and ask as many questions as possible that encourage people to do their own research. Only when someone searches and finds facts for themselves are they going to be compelled to take action. Another aspect of what we have introduced is a semi-anonymous format.
We felt that it would be interesting not to have a “personality” attached to Activist Post, as we have observed that very often information is overlooked or ignored simply because a certain person is saying it. The information should be put out front for examination, not specific individuals. The power of the Internet affords everyone an equal path to the truth. Finally, we continue to promote solutions.
As we were studying alt media, both Eric and I noticed that alt media is generally criticized for being doom and gloom, only complaining, and never solving anything. Our personalities are optimistic and we wanted that to come through even as we address negative developments in the world. There is nothing wrong with highlighting problems – that is reality – but we have a choice how we react. We want to highlight the power of the individual, the power of positivity, and the power of working toward peaceful ends as core solutions to violence and injustice.
6. How can people themselves get involved in alt media?
First it is important to decide what your skills are and what you like to do. Some people love the radio and TV; others prefer the written word to communicate their message, as we do. Secondly, it is important to decide if you are happy to contribute to other sites, or do you want to start a presence of your own? We always welcome new voices, so beginning in alt media is as easy as sending us, or any other site, an e-mail with your work.
I’m firmly convinced that good work will always find a publisher; alt media is far easier to access than traditional media. Also, if radio or video is your thing, technology is so good and so inexpensive now that with a short learning curve anyone can start a YouTube channel or create a podcast to start. Now, if someone is looking to make this a full-time career, we would have to recommend finding 1 or 2 other people who share your passion and can help contribute the massive amount of time that it takes to operate a full-time presence. For example, we essentially have 4 people working 10-15 hour days on our site.
We have been very fortunate to have built a loyal base that continues to grow, but it certainly was not easy. Luckily, we enjoy what we do, which keeps us from ever considering this to be actual work, but people do need to be aware of the time it takes. Above all, we would stress that anyone can contribute something.