Saturday, February 04, 2017

Being heard

These days, it’s important to use every opportunity to make it easier to get progressives’ messages out, and to not rely on the mainstream media to do it. The Facebook video above is from my own US Representative, Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), who was reporting on the first two weeks of Don’s tenure as titular president. This is an example of what I’m talking about.

There are a couple problems that progressives face in getting their message out. First, the mainstream newsmedia is still too obsessed with equivalence, as if all opinions, even those without a shred of evidence or single relevant fact behind them, are equally valid. Because of that, they will often not give our side of the debate enough coverage while also not being tough enough on the antics of Don’s gang. However, there has been a marked improvement in the behaviour of the mainstream newsmedia in recent months, and they have become much more willing to state the obvious truth when Don or one of his people blatantly lies.

The bigger problem is that even when they're doing their job well, the newsmedia has limited time and resources. As a result, issues often don’t get enough in-depth attention. Using alternative methods to deliver a message can help fill in the gaps for people who want more in-depth information—and the mainstream newsmedia sometimes uses these alternative channels in their own coverage.

So, we have Facebook Live, as US Rep. Schakowsky used (and others, like Robert Reich, use it frequently, too). There are also YouTube videos, podcasts, and blogs, all of which can make our views and ideas widely available. But the best part of all, in my self-interested opinion, is that these options are available to anyone who wants to be heard.

There are free blogging platforms, podcasting can be free, and YouTube and Facebook videos are also free. The cost of entry for anyone who wants to share their thoughts and opinions widely has never been lower in all of human history—let that sink in a moment: ANYONE can now publish.

Naturally, the ability to be heard doesn’t mean everyone will be heard. All of these opportunities require certain skills, but most of those skills can be learned easily enough. Also, while natural ability or talent can help one find an audience, authenticity matters a lot these days, too. But all that side, the biggest obstacle is that promoting one’s work so it can find an audience can be a job in itself, and for many “content producers”, to use the trendy phrase, it seems the least important thing (I do almost no promotion).

The democratisation of publishing is one of the best things the Internet has delivered to humanity. We haven’t yet fully learned how to use that freedom well—faked news and bullying remain problems, for example—but the fact there are problems doesn’t take away from the opportunities.

Progressive leaders need to take advantage of every medium to reach potential supporters and allies. The rest of us may want to take advantage of these opportunities so that we don’t feel quite so powerless or alone. In any case, the opportunities are there for anyone willing to grasp them.

Let’s get talking.

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