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Beyond the Echo Chamber writes new news history as it happens

I’ve always been lucky that when I left a job, the people who took the position over next were so dang smart that they ended up making me look good, too.

That’s by way of a reflection as I’ve been reading Beyond the Echo Chamber, by Jessica Clark and Tracy Van Slyke. I first met Tracy just 10 years ago when she became communications director at National Training and Information Center, best known for the bank-stoppin’ grassroots action coalition National People’s Action.

You haven’t heard about progressive news outlets’ fiscal crisis much in the course of the economic disaster for other news outlets. That’s because fiscal crisis is endemic to progressive news outlets–as Tracy and Jessica, who met when they worked at Chicago’s In These Times, know much better than I.

Also, despite big exceptions such as the bankrupt Air America, progressive outlets have rolled and grown with the times. They have received huge reinforcements in the form of the progressive blogosphere.

Tracy and Jessica tell us how sites and groups from Brave New Films to Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, Center for Independent Media, have joined with revamped and revitalized venerable outlets–The Nation, Progressive, Mother Jones etc. to gain voice and influence in the new millenium.

Beyond that, and more to their purpose, I thnk, the authors look to lay out a set of strategies that will help to continue and amplify that influence in the next 10 years.

This book is really helpful if you’re just joining in the online news world–or even if like me too much has been going on over the past five years for you to have paid attention to all of it–in the way that it documents what happened, because of whom and a bit of how one thing led to another. For example, stories related in Beyond the Echo Chamber include how reader-supported journalism got Talking Points Memo going, and how Brave New Films checkmated the attempt of the guy who swift-boated John Kerry to do the same to candidate Obama.

Two other key themes of the book: how things work–what is the network amongst “progressive media”– compared to, say, convervative news and opinion print, broadcast, online–and recommendations for a few newer strategies to carry the work forward:

  • Strengthen the network-powered media system
  • Keep telling the right they’re wrong
  • Maximize muckraking with user involvement
  • Take a policy stance . . . and don’t retreat
  • Help the choir Become conductors
  • d.i.y.

Consider that a teaser …  Jessica and Tracy’s recommendations are more fully developed on the book project blog. What do you think the impact of these progressive media outlets has been on our use of social media in general? On the traditional metro news business?

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Category: Other Events Around Town, Useful Books

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