News sources for a labor activist

With an understanding of how poor a job the corporate press does covering labor issues (see my PDF file on this), I was asked recently were to get good news with a fairer, non-corporate perspective. First I’ll explain my criteria, then provide the sources. 

For me, the difference between real news and dis-info-tainment that pretends to be news (especially from the Faux (Fox) News network, which is often straight out, unabashed government propaganda when Republicans are in office and anti-government propaganda when Democrats are in office) is this one formula: if it empowers you and gives you the information you need to be a free citizen ready to act, it’s news; if it disempowers you and makes you despair or run and hide or feel like letting someone else fix it, it’s something else other than news. Real news is democracy enhancing. Fake news undermines citizen participation. The number one product of our news system is cynicism. You really have to struggle to fight that helpless feeling because the elites running things don’t really want your input.

Here are my sources of information:

Primary sources: KPFA (94.1 FM) in northern California and the SF Bay Area (listener-sponsored in Berkeley since 1949; part of the Pacifica Network with four other stations: LA, Houston, NY, Wash., D.C.), Highlights are the Morning Show (7 to 9 a.m.), evening news (6 to 7 p.m.), Flashpoints news magazine, and I sometimes get the treat of catching other public affairs programming during the day or on Sunday mornings (9 to 11 a.m.). Every weekday morning at 6 and repeated at 9 a.m. is Democracy Now! — the best news magazine show in the country, hands down. Democracy Now! is also a cable TV show but on regular TV there are only two shows (that I know of) worth watching: Bill Moyers’ Journal, and the show he used to do: NOW. Both are on the air on Friday evenings starting at 10 p.m. (Unless the PBS channel is fundraising by taking listener pledges, which is something that was invented by KPFA, where they had to give you an FM radio to listen because no one had one back in 1949. You can also catch them on the Internet if you have a wild weekend nightlife.)

Secondary sources: books recommended on KPFA or by my professor friends; The Nation magazine (weekly); AFL-CIO’s Working Families Blog; the Sacramento Bee’s political news (the other “news” is garbage mostly; well, the political news is too but at least it’s worth the effort to watch what is going on); and I subscribe to a daily essay from Z Net, a political magazine that carries many of the great progressive writer/essayists of the day writing on all sorts of topics. Also, lots of people send me stuff that they think I would be interested in, often from the various other great blogs on the Internet. (They are often correct.) There is a lot of good stuff out there to counteract the schlock.

I’m also blessed with living in an area of great riches. There are many lectures, films, and other awesome events to attend all the time (free plays in the parks in the summer, Power to the Peaceful festival each year, and between SF State and UC Berkeley, way too much to chose from). It’s challenging to keep up with it all. Also, check out The Institute for the Critical Study of Society for a project I’m involved in called a Free University.

TAFN. Peace.

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