Beyond MoveOn: Using the Internet for Real Change

Recently the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice asked me to write an article for them with my ideas of how grassroots activists could better use the Internet for real change. As a member of the group, I was happy to tackle that assignment, and here are my thoughts.

Barack Obama owes his election in no small part to his brilliant use of social networking websites, email, cell phone texting and blogs, all utilized in unprecedented ways by his campaign staff to promote, organize and fund his unlikely victory. He employed techniques pioneered by online groups such as MoveOn and took them to an entirely new level. Thanks to Obama's use of the Internet, politics in America will never be the same. It's crucial that peace and social justice activists at the state and local levels understand and harness these new technologies in organizing for fundamental social change.

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The Bleak State of the News Media

"Newspaper ad revenues have fallen 23% in the last two years. ... By our calculations, nearly one out of every five journalists working for newspapers in 2001 is now gone, and 2009 may be the worst year yet," reads the summary of the "State of the News Media 2009" report. In local television, "revenues fell by 7% in an election year -- something unheard of -- and ratings are now falling or are flat across the schedule." News "audience migration to the Internet is now accelerating," but "online ad revenue to news websites now appears to be flattening; in newspapers it is declining. ...


Oil Industry Advisor Comes Out of His Shell

The oil company Shell -- which is heavily invested in Alberta's tar sands, an especially dirty and greenhouse gas-intensive source of oil -- has launched a blog about climate change issues. It's "the first time a major oil company has used social media to make a public policy case," reports Siobhan Hughes.


Congresspedia Has a New Home at OpenCongress

Congresspedia, the CMD citizen journalism project that has thrived inside SourceWatch since 2006, is no longer. Its funder the Sunlight Foundation decided to merge Congresspedia into their OpenCongress project. Much of Congresspedia's content will remain in some form inside SourceWatch but CMD's staff of editors will no longer be regularly updating the articles. CMD is proud to have created what quickly became the best and most extensive 'wiki' website on the US Congress. Our development of Congresspedia led directly to the creation of our growing number of other SourceWatch portals on issues including the tobacco industry, the coal industry, climate change, front groups, global corporations, and the nuclear power industry. We wish the website formerly known as Congresspedia well in its new incarnation at OpenCongress.

PR Firms Pay for Video Play Online

Fake news isn't just for TV newscasts anymore. "The Web's evolving ability to tap niche audiences is expanding the scope of guaranteed placement," or paying to place PR videos. "For our Web distribution, we guarantee placement on major news sites, including Google News [and] MSN," explained PR executive Doug Simon.



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