Big Media Vs. Street Papers:Sparking Conversation
By Martha Stephens
I read almost every issue of Streetvibes. It tells truths you can’t find in any other paper. I always like the column on the first page of the paper by editor Gabriela Godinez. Godinez doesn’t hesitate to tell it like it is -- on many difficult subjects. I have admired her take on our mounting gun violence, for instance, and the need to ban assault weapons; and I agree with her entirely about Title X, the federal program for family planning, and her insistence that a woman must have the right to make decisions about her own body.
I always read Dr. Mark Mussman. His knowledge of the city is phenomenal, and I learn from him about the struggles people are facing in all corners of the town -- and what we need to do about it. I like the poems and stories of our homeless friends, and I enjoy the many articles from other street-papers in the U. S. and around the world. I wish, though, we had more local writers pitching in with their personal stories and insights.
As I see it, we need more dialogue in the paper, so I’d like to reply to a Streetvibes article in a recent issue by Bill Woods. News media is “Both Under Attack and in Decline,” he writes in the Oct. 3 edition. Mr. Woods contributes a lot of fine thoughtful writing to Streetvibes, and he is very good at explaining what caring people need to do to organize ourselves to create a town where no one lives in fear and grave distress.
On big media, though, I have a somewhat different take from Mr. Bill. He writes on how he regrets that corporate news (the large papers and t. v. news) is losing out - to social media, perhaps?
Yet as I see it, the corporate media has never been a true friend of ours. Only this past year have they been willing even to mention climate change. What was happening to our sick little planet was basically a secret from their readers all those years! The business cartels that put out the papers did not like the whole subject until quite recently, when they felt they had to get on board. Big media can be good at human-interest stories of all kinds, but we are suffering horribly now from this absence of climate news over the years.
Do we love and admire the New York Times? Do we love NPR? Think of them as progressive? Don’t we recall how they helped get us into the terrible war in Iraq; their total support for those killing fields? I recall only too well when the NYT wrote that Hussein was a Hitler and had to be gotten rid of, no matter what. Once the invasion began, NPR (though it’s a better program today, under Trump) would not let us hear a single voice opposing that war.
Many of us in Cincinnati marched against the invasion of Iraq in 2003. We felt there was no point in that war. The Iraq Body Count -- of civilians killed in the conflict -- is still rising every day. (We can take a look at this count on line. As I write, it’s up to almost 200,000 deaths.)
In short, the American Empire has torn up much of the world through its wars and installing its bases around the world. Jim Luken can tell this story much better than I can, and I hope we’ll still hear from him from time to time. Jim was once a war correspondent, and he wrote about war for many years for Streetvibes, even after he moved away from Cincinnati.
One could go on and on -- as to what we learn from Big Media and what we don’t learn. We may be fortunate that today we have Democracy Now and a good many other progressive and truth-telling organs for news. Facebook, for all its drawbacks, does allow us to learn from each other. My Facebook friends post all kinds of eye-opening reports from sources I wouldn’t otherwise know about. And again, we have our street-papers to help us understand what’s happening to common people in the U.S. and around the world.
It may be that we are not worse off for less corporate news, but better off - or so it seems to me, when it comes to the grave decisions we have to make in the U. S. today. Maybe those of us reading and writing for this paper should have a thorough dialogue on such subjects, and perhaps others will pitch in right here on Streetvibes.
In short, let’s talk to each other - through letters and counter-articles. That’s what keeps a newspaper alive!
Martha Stephens is a writer and retired teacher. Her book about the victims of a research project in the U.C. College of Medicine is titled The Treatment: the story of those who died in the Cincinnati radiation tests (Duke University Press 2002); and her most recent work is a memoir titled Me and the Grandmas of Baghdad (in libraries and on Amazon). She can be reached at email@example.com.