New Media: From Archipelagoes to Networks
From Archipelagoes to Networks
[Image: My apologies to T.C. Witmore of Oxford University. Sometimes art requires the repurposing of material. The original is a beautiful piece of cartography which is locked behind an academic publisher’s paywall.]
Publication date: 2022-06-30
Update 2022-07-13: Two new sources are added, both recent. The Duran interview Mr. Lira and Dima demonstrating the network expansion of independent media. The second is by Alex Christoforou in which a community member most concisely summarizes the idiocy of youtube’s ban against him.
Update 2022-07-14: Sources from Jimmy Dore and The Grayzone are added to further document the network linkage.
Update 2022-07-16: Another source was added, from today.
Update 2022-07-17: Another source was added. The excellent interview of Chris Hedges by Mansa Musa covers “Our Class”.
Update 2022-09-22: Another source, Roundtable #21.
The USA Senate's Church Committee hearings in the mid 1970's documented that which is commonly called Operation Mockingbird. The CIA has paid journalists in key USA news publications and employed "stringers" to provide these journalists with reports which they could quote in their articles. Obviously, some influence on key editors was also required. This “was” a completely controlled news creation and publication operation via existing news channels with members of the CIA as "editor-in-chief". Today “former” CIA or FBI employees are simply hired by the USA’s “leading” news organisations; there is nothing covert any more.
As the public was connected to the Internet during the mid 1990’s a little seen revolution was underway. These revolutions of increased information delivery are well known, from the printing press, to telegraph, radio, and then television. The internet is a culmination. Text, audio and video are publishable on a single page, accessible in milliseconds.
It was not the technocrats or the "elites" who saw the potential, but citizens, and particularly those with training in networking and programming. Before long "Home Pages" were created and Bulletin Boards and Fora proliferated continuing the offerings of USENET. Quickly, people were publishing articles often concerning their daily life as a way of speaking to a community or family, the "Web Logs". The explosion of these, to later be renamed as "blogs", created a market for easing the path to publish one. Before long we have MySpace and hundreds of variants.
The market continued to evolve easing publication as the underlying technology of the Internet and Software Services hosted on it improved in both core hardware and capacity. This was the age of Moore's Law.
The New Media: A Concept Becomes Reality
Existing news media companies saw in the mid to late 1990's that this new "Internet" thing was going to be important and struggled to obtain their presence within it. The vanguard in the USA news media space was none of these, but Consortium News, established by the late Robert Parry. This newly created news organisation was publishing journalism on the internet before any of its mainstream competitors. Parry, having worked within the MSM, was motivated because his editors "spiked" many stories which he considered important and of public interest. He wanted an independent medium on which to publish. The Internet was his conduit, as mail order had been for earlier independent publications like Robert Scheer's Ramparts.
The thesis of this essay is that the collection of independent commentators and journalists using the English language has evolved over the last two decades from an archipelago of isolated islands into a network of networks, an "internet" of its own. To support this assertion, programmes created by western establishment and military intelligence agencies to counter this New Media are presented as evidence of the "threat” they perceive.
An Insufficient Survey
While aware of the Trojan warning "beware of gifts from Greeks" Messrs Chistoforou and Mercouris run The Duran, a publication providing informative geopolitical and current events analysis. In a recent post by Mr. Christoforou, to support his analysis of an interesting New York Times article, he cites an article published by Multipolarista. The supporting analysis is authored by Ben Norton who used to work for The Grayzone. The Grayzone's editor Max Blumenthal still employs Aaron Mate, who earlier had worked for The Real News, and earlier still, Democracy Now.
Mr Blumenthal was recently interviewed by Richard Medhurst who has previously interviewed Venessa Beeley. She has been repeatedly interviewed by UK Column and 21st Century Wire, who have also interviewed many other independent journalists. Other center points for interviews include James Corbett's Corbett Report, or Jimmy Dore's The Jimmy Dore Show amongst far too many others to name.
[Image: a composite of images of some members of the new media, by the author. Featured in reading order are Vanessa Beeley, Joe Lauria, Eva K. Bartlett, James Corbett, Caitlin Johnstone and Richard Medhurst.]
Defining the Network
The term "reporter" is used for anyone who publishes in the English language journalistic or commentary (opinion) pieces which provide sourcing. The term "host" is used for the interviewer of an interview published in video format on the Inter-webs wherein the topic is recent events or geopolitics.
The hosts and reporters have created a dense network. Most nodes are not just reporters, but also hosts. In the Assange case, which is largely misreported or under-reported by the MSM, we see this network in operation. The most dedicated reporters are all both reporters and hosts. The best on the topic are Joe Lauria (Consortium News), Richard Medhurst, and Kevin Gosztola (The Dissenter) who have all interviewed at least one of the other two. Max Blumenthal deserves credit for exposing the CIA connection via the Spanish "Security" firm, UC Global. He too is a reporter and host. A confluence of specialists is to be expected. To highlight the travesties of the saga they wish to interview area experts.
Vanessa Beeley is an interesting network of networks interlink having been interviewed by many including James Corbett, Medhurst, and UK Column. Many more of these area specialists link the high connectivity host nodes.
Indeed, most of these New Media reporters and hosts begin with an area specialization. They claim their turf not jealously but with expertise as they begin their journey in publishing. Their reliable analysis, informed commentary, or ‘on the ground’ reporting in their area specialization helps them grow a community through which their work becomes known.
In specific areas, say the Assange persecution or the Dirty War against Syria, independent reporters are likely to become aware of each others' work due to the topic. This author is puzzled as to why Aaron Mate has not hosted Vanessa Beeley on the Dirty War against Syria. They are both area specialists. Though puzzling, it detracts not. Both are excellent sources of reporting and commentary on the geopolitical implications of the conflict and the dirty methods used to wage it.
There is another mechanism which creates links within the network. Each community provides supporting inter-links. Ironically, communities of support have become necessary.
To see the mechanism, two examples serve to inform. Meet Chris Hedges and Glenn Greenwald. Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize awardee, was formally the Middle East Bureau Chief for the New York Times. Following a formal reprimand for speaking out publicly against the 2003 Iraq War he resigned from the NYT recognizing, as Parry had a decade earlier, that the MSM will neither brook nor publish dissent.
Mr Greenwald co-founded The Intercept with Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, the primary publication of First-Look Media, using seed funding from Pierre Omidyar. When the editor Betsy Reed spiked Glenn’s story on the Hunter Biden laptop he felt compelled to leave the organisation he had co-founded.
Both Chris and Glenn have moved to independent "crowd funded" publishing. They publish on a platform which has no editors.
Members of the new media are required to create a community which funds them. They have been forced into this position to support themselves and their families.
Members of these communities, for any independent journalist, are likely to cross into other communities. Via this mechanism, outside of area specialization, reporters are interlinked as they read comments from their community. These two mechanisms of area specialization and cross community pollination seem the most prominent in network formation.
Thus, the spiking of stories to control narratives has driven reporters to create communities which not only support them but further the creation of inter-links in the established and growing New (Independent) Media network.
Correlation or Causation?
Why is this happening? Is it the Internet? The ‘net is not an explanation, but an enabling mechanism.
The established Mainstream Media (MSM) have performed so badly for so long that people either turned off, or looked for other sources. Internet access was ubiquitous in western society when the 2003 USA/UK, the “coalition of the willing” without a UN mandate, invaded Iraq under false pretenses.
The "cord cutting" process, replacing cable TV with the internet rather than augmenting it, was beginning. The horrid failure of the MSM, its lies about the Iraq war, continued with more during the Libyan war. Meanwhile, a new generation of young independent journalists were coming of age. These young journalists realised that the MSM is a controlled narrative space. Despite quality of sourcing and writing, if the topic was prohibited, it mattered little where one worked. The article would be spiked.
Another primary element which moves audiences from the old to new media is personal realisation.
Many people who have left the MSM behind have done so because one significant event occurred for which they had swallowed the approved narrative. From personal research or via the new media they discovered that the approved narrative of the event was very suspicious. They became curious and discovered that "suspicious" was a generous term. They had been lied to, deliberately, and saw society being collectively misled.
This is a crossroad referred to by metaphor as a "down the rabbit hole", or a "red or blue pill" moment, alluding to “Through the Looking Glass” or “The Matrix”.
[Image: an artist’s recreation of the red/blue moment from “The Matrix”. The image is so “memed” that determining the original artist is impossible.]
Lying to Preserve Lies
The problem for narrative control agencies is the absolute litany of events described with misleading approved narratives in the public record. For a curious individual, all it takes is one. If they feel inspired by learning a truer or more accurate representation they may continue to investigate. The landmines for the narrative controllers were laid by those who came before; a legacy burden. Nonsensically, they continue to attempt to control narratives and promote misrepresentation, adding to their burden.
These almost uniformly misrepresented events span across continents and centuries, some being more sensitive than others according to time and culture. An extremely short sample might be: the creation of the USA's Federal Reserve (Jekyll Island), the murders of any of JFK, RFK, MLK jr. and many other civil rights advocates in the USA, the wars of the 2003 Iraq invasion, Libya, Syria, Vietnam, Afghanistan (both 1979 and 2001), the 9/11 event, the precursors to WWI and WWII, the "Drug War" and CIA's involvement in drug running during the "American War" as the Vietnamese correctly title it, or its gun and drug running as shown in the Iran-Contra affair, or any of Operations Northwoods, Mockingbird, Gladio, Timbre Sycamore, and book loads more.
The poor narrative control managers carry this historical burden of lies from which to deflect attention. Meanwhile, a new media is born in which these topics are not taboo. Members of the new media matrix are aware of the psychological stress created by confronting these old lies for their audience, leaving these topics generally unexamined. There are many exceptions. James Corbett is an example of one who has placed much effort in exposing the old lies and cover ups, these fabrications of history.
Escaping Echo Chambers
Which sources would one cite, or which guest would one invite in the new media?
Before considering this, note the behaviour in the MSM. The NYT cites WaPo and the LA Times cites both. The gaggles at CNN, Fox or MSNBC hang out with themselves. These are incestuous echo chambers of non-experts pontificating about topics of which they are as uninformed as their audience. In print, it is a self referential echo chamber.
The new media do a little of this, but mostly cite sources or host guests which are the area specialist for the topic they wish to discuss. To take an example, would Richard Medhurst host Vanessa Beeley or Ben Norton if the topic was a political event in Venezuela? While Beeley may be well informed, the preferred interviewee would be Norton who speaks Spanish and has a detailed knowledge of the history of and current events in Latin America. The reverse would be true if the topic was Syria.
The new media is largely a meritocracy. The communities and audiences understand this essential difference between the old and new. To build or maintain an audience the reporter or host must provide informed analysis and commentary.
Because the new media is not a centrally controlled program, rather fueled by "grass roots" people acting on their conscience, passion or interest, the phenomenon is almost impossible to stop. This informs us of the strategies employed against it.
Fighting the Meritocracy
The first port of call for the establishment narrative control managers is character assassination. The case of Julian Assange being a "rapist" or "sexual predator" is a classic example. These are fictitious allegations carried by the MSM including “The Guardian”, a stalwart for attacking the award winning journalist and publisher. The "Mayday" series by the BBC to attack Vanessa Beeley is another example. Writing hit pieces is easy. To purely assert and not provide evidence undermines the credibility of the author rather than the target. This may be effective on elements of the population who have insufficient time to discover the fraud, but ultimately it undermines the accuser.
Character assassination is a start point for an individual. For collections and for certain unpalatable narratives other methods are employed. A beautiful example is "News Guard" which claims to be an agency which assesses the reliability of news publishers. One knows that something is up when both RT and Breitbart complain that Wikileaks, with its perfect record of accuracy, receives the “red card” from NewsGuard. Moving from the commercial to the state, why not establish within the Department of Homeland Security, itself a crazy thing, a Disinformation Governance Board and choose as its first head some laughable person who sings silly songs on Instagram? We shall shoot down the slings and arrows of disinformation by labeling it as such!
The implication of both of these strategies, as with character assassination, is that you are stupid, unable to decide for yourself which sources of information you select as reliable. These efforts are pure disrespect.
[Image: a photograph of the registered address of the “Institute for Statecraft” which serves as a fabricated superstructure for the “Integrity Initiative”. The image source is an article published at The Grayzone by Mohamed Elmaazi and Max Blumenthal.]
Moving from the overt to the covert, we have programmes like the "Integrity Initiative" funded by the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office. This effort, staffed with military intelligence officers, attempts to foster networks of pliable journalists in both national and international (particularly European and USA) locations. This is little more than a modern re-branding of Operation Mockingbird but with a more international focus. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. There are many other such efforts with different names, the UK's 77th Brigade comes to mind.
A very nasty option is to deny a funding connection between a reporter or publisher and their community. Recent attacks by PayPal on Consortium News and Mint Press News serve as examples. Again, Wikileaks is the canary in the coal mine with the combined blockade by Visa, MasterCard and PayPal having occurred over a decade ago.
Finally, the last significant option is to embroil the individual or organisation in legal challenges to defund them or deny their liberty. Again, Wikileaks and Julian Assange serve as an example.
This wide array of strategies and operations show us that the establishment views independent journalism as a threat.
Hurling Hand Grenades in a Glasshouse
Anyone who can think and breathe at the same time can see the character assassination efforts as bogus. The News Guard and Disinformation Governance Board show disrespect for citizen agency. Efforts like the 77th Brigade and Integrity Initiative, when they are exposed, serve only to reinforce that “Operation Mockingbird” state control over commercial media has never stopped. This in itself informs. The use of financial blockades and "lawfare" against the new media highlights a degree of desperation.
None of these actions are for any of the stated principles of free speech or civil rights proclaimed by the "west". The truth is laid bare: the mission is power and control. You may only think approved thoughts.
Interestingly, the efforts themselves are self defeating. The thought police are fighting a rising tide with bullets. The co-opted media have exposed themselves as partisan stenographers. The new wave of principled journalists have been forced into crowd funding which creates communities interlinking them further. These are not “bloggers” but a network of uncontrolled independent thinkers and reporters slaking the thirst of populations tired of pitiful work by media mogul controlled outlets or under funded state media. We should pity the aforementioned minions in their misplaced efforts to control narrative and thought.
They betray themselves.
The primary sources are linked directly in the text. Below are other supporting sources.
Kevork Almassian on latest Guardian smear piece, Kevork Almassian, Vanessa Beeley's youtube channel, 2022-06-21
Where's the ‘Collusion’?, Aaron Maté interviews Luke Harding, The Real News Network, 2017-12-23
SITREP Ukraine w/Military Summary & Gonzalo Lira (Live), Alexander Mercouris and Gonzalo Lira interview Dima from the Military Summary channel, The Duran, 2022-07-12
The Duran became aware of Mr. Lira and has invited him on several occassions. He had discovered the Military Summary channel, by Dima, and then encouraged them to host him. On the preceeding day, youtube had placed a one week ban on Alex Christoforou for some comment he made in a video about a news item 12 months earlier. Here we see the networks emerging and the control centers attempting to ban/silence/target members of the independent media. As with many members of independent media they publish in numerous platforms besides youtube, with Rumble and Odyssey being prominant.
HIMARS hit Kherson. EU ready to steal Russian assets. Elensky upset with Trudeau. Update 1, Alex Christoforou, his Rumble channel, 2022-07-13
Skip to 00:29:16 to hear Alex use himself for his “clown word” concluding segment. This deals with the youtube ban, and notably involves him quoting a member of his community summarizing the ban. Alex reflects on what the ban means, or does not.
Mexican President Lectures Biden About How To Lower Gas Prices, Jimmy Dore interviews “Pasta” and Fiorella from the Convo Couch, The Jimmy Dore Show, 2022-07-14
Germany criminalizes journalist for exposing Ukrainian war crimes, Max Blumenthal interviews German independent Journalist Alina Lipp who has been covering the Donbas conflict for years, The Grayzone, 2022-07-12
Roundtable #1: (Larry) Johnson, (Andrei) Martyanov, (Alexander) Mercouris, Gonzalo Lira interviews other members of the “New Media”, Lira’s second channel (youtube), 2022-07-16
Chris Hedges on trauma & teaching writing in prison, Mansa Musa interviews Chris Hedges, "Rattling the Bars" on The Real News Network, 2022-07-11
On the topic of experts interviewing experts, nothing can top this. Mansa, a 48 year ex-prisoner, interviews Hedges on the drama class he taught in the "Rahway" prison. Hedges had stumbled across an astonishing opportunity of creativity, redemption and catharsis in his class. As with any good teacher, he nurtured it. The interview is based on Chris' book "Our Class".
Mansa's questions are incisive and provide Hedges opportunities to speak in depth of some of the more profound moments and processes which were created, by the students, during the class. The question on "safe spaces" is deep. As for political organisation in prisons, this conversation will shatter any misconceptions you have may about political freedom in USA prisons.
The Roundtable #21: Suzie Dawson, John Kiriakou, Ray McGovern, Gonzalo Lira and Guests, his youtube channel, 2022-09-20
3 “versions” are provided: official, independent and analysis. Choose your poison, but remember the lyric: “When you believe in things you don’t understand, then you suffer. Superstition in the way.”
Superstition, Stevie Wonder, his publisher’s youtube channel, uploaded 2018-10-29
This is the least important “version”. It is provided for reference.
Stevie Wonder - Superstition (1974), Stevie Wonder and band, Musikladen, uploaded 2020-10-20
Turn up the Volume! Why is there a White Guy on guitar? Because he’s as good as his coloured band members. Meritocracy, dude. AKA if you can’t play jazz, you aint good enough for my rock band. Personally I hand it all to the drummer and the base player, not withstanding Stevie.
Thanks to the videographers, sound engineers and editors for capturing the artists and mood so well.
What Makes This Song Great?™ Ep 81 Stevie Wonder, Rick Beato reviews Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”, Beato’s youtube channel, 2020-02-08
Break it down, Beato! Independent media is not just about news. Oh, has Stevie got rhythm or what? Not to mention playing most of the instruments. He performs the vocals and ALL of the rhythm section, drums, MOOG base, and all of the Clav’ parts!!
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