Entrepreneurial Obie spirit
To the Editors:
Many people love to complain about the liberal media. Especially Republicans.
It’s the liberal media this, or the liberal media that.
This, of course, ignores the conservative television juggernaut Fox News, the nation’s second largest newspaper, The Wall Street Journal and the popular Internet news directory, The Drudge Report, led by self-professed libertarian Matt Drudge.
And they aren’t the only ones keeping newsprint caged. The New York Times has been known to kill stories — most recently, they pulled a story about allegations concerning Prince Charles’ liaison with a palace staff member.
The same paper also pulled a shady deal, refusing to pay their dues for the jointly-owned International Herald Tribune unless the Washington Post sold them the paper.
Times higher-ups have suggested the paper’s name may be changed to the New York Times International.
The Internet seemed to be a promising venue for upstart news organizations working to present an alternative viewpoint, but has proved thorny, as smaller sites have a hard time maintaining enough traffic to stay afloat. They’re hard to find and their reliability is never guaranteed.
Oberlin teaches students to be critical of the media, and with good reason. Statistics rarely tell the whole truth; companies use doublespeak to disguise their deleterious effects on the environment, communities and the national political atmosphere.
Thus, after graduating, we looked for ways to make a dent in the quest for quality reporting.
Ever the entrepreneur, John wanted to start a newspaper or magazine, and even planned a youth news organization before the demand of startup capital dried it up on the vine.
Then we took another look at the Internet. At first, the prospects seemed dubious online advertising had never successfully funded a staffed news organization, had it? Salon is struggling and Slate has a major corporate parent.
One site came to mind: The Drudge Report.
Searching Google, we found a story from the Miami Herald about Drudge’s rise to fame. At that point, he had 6.5 million visitors to his site per day; along with his friend and only coworker, he was raking in $1.2 million annually.
Today he has 8 million visitors; the day he posted Janet Jackson’s breast he had 11 million. His current salary is unknown.
Finally, we had our idea: a site that worked like Drudge, a collection of links from across the world that would spotlight stories of all political slants. A site that would provide a constantly updated alternative, and bring out the big stories that Drudge won’t touch, stories that criticize President Bush.
Our site is The Raw Story, at www.rawstory.com.
It’s about Obies helping Obies, and the rest of the English-speaking world, to find their way in the maelstrom of stories that masquerade as news. Decide for yourself.