Tag Archives: alternative media

Fixing the News: Blockchain-Powered Solutions for Media in Crisis

Editor’s Note: Does blockchain technology offer a potential solution to often misleading, censorial, and even fraudulent corporate news media that plagues the Western world? As the author notes in his conclusion, such projects may seem far-fetched at present, yet it was not that long ago that few believed Wikipedia would ever gain traction. Today’s real news and analyses are coming from citizen journalists who remain vulnerable to YouTube, Google, and social media gatekeepers. What if they were given the means to form their own “ecosystems” for news and commentary?

“Creating comprehensive community-powered marketplaces for production, distribution, and verification of news”

Kirill Bryanov
CoinTelegraph
(May 19, 2018)

In the US and around the world, quality journalism is going through difficult times. Against the backdrop of steadily declining trust in the mainstream press, systemic issues like the ever-intensifying political polarization of the media, proliferation of fake news, and asymmetric power relations between platforms and publishers, among others, stand in the way of the press striving to fulfill its crucial societal functions. The central role of the media in the society is, at least normatively, to provide the public with essential knowledge of the state of the world that would enable people to make informed choices. In a democracy, both institutional and social media are also supposed to facilitate an open arena for public discussion and deliberation where the wide array of voices and ideas are represented. However, the reality seems to be drifting away from this ideal in dramatic ways.

A longstanding critical tradition has an extensive list of claims to lay to the US media system’s structural deficiencies. Even in the pre-digital era, some scholars of communication were uneasy with the growing concentration of corporate ownership in media industries, seeing this trend as threatening the democratic process. Proponents of this intellectual current advocated for as wide a distribution of communication power as possible as a safeguard against power abuse at the hands of big corporate and state actors. The advent of digital news has seen yet another wave of similar criticisms, as it had soon become apparent that, contrary to early internet enthusiasts’ expectations, the new media ecosystem does not quite eliminate the disparities in communication power. Instead, it seemed to be reproducing the old patterns of power concentration, as well as giving rise to some new problematic trends.

Most of the contemporary media criticisms converge around one point: the digital news economy. The ad-based online business model often proves to be inadequate for sustaining certain forms of journalism that rely on specific and narrow audiences for financial backing. These forms happen to be the ones of social importance, like local news or investigative and issue reporting. Labelled the “attention economy,” the incentive system that social media news feeds have engendered rewards content that attracts eyeballs and generates clicks. Facebook and Google, which derive the bulk of their profits from selling targeted ads, have apparent reasons to stimulate as long user engagement with content as possible. Here’s where algorithmic newsfeeds come in handy, facilitating users’ selective exposure to content they will likely enjoy. Extrapolated to the political arena, this logic results in people getting locked up in ideological information bubbles, where partisan views become amplified and biases get confirmed. These bubbles also provide fertile soil for the spread of politically charged misinformation.

Aspiring media reformers have proposed multiple cures to these maladies. Among alternative models are philanthropic foundation-supported nonprofits, issue-specific donation-funded media outlets, and various forms of collaborative citizen journalism. Albeit sustainable in certain contexts, such solutions have so far failed to demonstrate flexibility and scalability needed to achieve any degree of mainstream adoption. Besides, these models mainly rely on goodwill of those people whose motivations are purely altruistic, which makes it difficult to ensure a steady flow of contributions.

A handful of blockchain-driven media startups that aspire to revolutionize the news economy are different in this important sense. They hope to not just draw in people longing for good journalism, but also provide them with economic incentives to contribute their efforts to sustaining the ecosystem for substantive news. Using the versatile incentive-building tools made available by crypto economy, combined with game-theoretic behavioral modelling and principles of decentralized governance, these projects aim at nothing less than creating comprehensive community-powered marketplaces for production, distribution, and verification of news.

A defining feature of each of these platforms is that they are all powered by the principles of the token economy. Unlike traditional fiat currencies or even a general-purpose cryptocurrency that could be used for any manner of transaction, crypto tokens are usually designed in a way that programmatically restricts the range of their uses to a certain set of roles and functions within a given system. Tokens therefore reflect the purposes and values of a certain platform, and can be used in order to align the economic interests of its individual users with the interests of the community at large. As a vehicle for transactions, such tokens are no longer a content-neutral instrument that simply enables transmission of information or value; rather, they entail the shared interests and values of those who subscribed to use them within a specific economic ecosystem.

Within the broader ecosystem of emerging blockchain-powered media startups, there is a wealth of platforms that use crypto-economic models to redefine the system of monetary exchanges between creators and consumers of information goods. The most common focus is on user-generated content and the ways in which regular folks in social media contexts are rewarded for their work: some examples include Steemit, Sapien, or Po.et, to name a few. The following review, however, focuses on a more specific set of projects, which explicitly address some problematic institutional aspects of the current news media system. As such, the projects in the list recognize the independent social value of news, and offer fixes that are designed to produce a better informed public.

More…

0

The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #88

In a significant April 2018 freedom of information decision in favor of government censorship Judge Colleen McMahon of the Southern District of New York ruled that the CIA has full discretion to provide classified information to journalists and news organizations of its choosing while withholding the identical information from other reporters or the broader public when the same information is requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

In 2017 free lance journalist Adam Johnson filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the CIA, citing a 2012 FOIA request to the Agency by Gawker journalist John Cook for exchanges between the CIA and several prominent journalists. In many of the documents CIA produced the responses to journalists were redacted. Johnson was concerned with the preferential treatment meted out by the Agency while the same information was granted to others.

All of the journalists in question had strong rapports with the CIA and worked for corporate-controlled news media: Jo Becker and Scott Shane of the New York Times; David Ignatius of the Washington Post; Ken Dilanian and Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times; Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman of the Associated Press; and Siobhan Gorman and Evan Perez of the Wall Street Journal.

One example from Johnson’s suit cites the Wall Street Journal’s Gorman, who inquired of the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs,

I’m told that on runs, Director Petraeus’s security detail hands him bottles of water, relay-style, so as not to slow him down. And you mentioned the director’s running a 6-minute mile, but I was told that the agency-wide invitation was that if you could run a 7-minute mile, you can come run with the director. I wanted to make sure both are is [sic] accurate. On the chart, it’s accurate to say that the congressional gym and the Pentagon gym ranked high, right? And I was just told that the facilities at the black sites were better than the ones at CIA. Don’t know whether that’s something you want to weigh in on, but I thought I’d see if you did.

The CIA’s response came just hours later: “Siobhan …” The body of the response is redacted. The CIA’s closing reads, “We can chat more on Monday, hope this helps.” That’s it. The entire response was regarded as too sensitive for the FOIA requester and broader public, but permissible for Siobhan Gorman, who replied, “Thanks for the help. I hope I wasn’t the cause of your dental appointment delay. This is very helpful as I try to tie up loose ends on this story. Sometimes ‘fun’ stories take as much work as their ‘less fun’ brethren. Sorry for all the qus [sic].”

Citing the National Security Act of 1947, the CIA contended that “limited, selective disclosures of classified information to journalists are perfectly legal,” CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou observes. “The National Security Act of 1947, they said, only requires protection of intelligence sources and methods from “unauthorized” disclosure, not from authorized disclosure. And because the disclosures at issue were actually intended to protect intelligence sources and methods, they were fully authorized.”

John Kiriakou, “Why Does the CIA Prefer Corporate Media?” Reader Supported News, February 23, 2018.

0

CIA Communications to Corporate News Media Deemed Classified

In Key FOIA Case Judge Grants Agency Broad Discretion in Leaking Info to Select Journalists, News Organizations

0

MemoryHoleBlog Cited By Liberal “Fact Check” Site Snopes.com

“Watchdog” Seeking to Allay Suspicion Over Broward Deputy Jason Fitzsimons’ Death Has Possible Links to CIA

Longtime defender of official narratives and liberal “fact check” site Snopes.com gave MemoryHoleBlog some faint praise in an April 18, 2018 post addressing the viral news of Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Fitzsimons’ unusual death.

Snopes made the argument that blogs reporting on the untimely death of Fitzsimons jumped too quickly on the bandwagon that his death was the result of a conspiracy, and did so without any actual followup. Bloggers can often “jump the gun” and run with stories that smack of trickery, failing to more carefully assess the facts and circumstances. Within these specific parameters we agree with Snopes, particularly since most blogs that carried our initial story on Deputy Fitzsimons failed to even acknowledge our subsequent post. As Snopes points out,

But these blogs did not mention Memory Hole’s follow-up story, which noted that Fitzsimons had used several different Facebook accounts, and that the account featuring the post criticizing Hogg had not been “scrubbed” and was accessible online at press time.

That being said, the fact that Snopes is the only above-the-board “mainstream” outlet (part of Facebook’s censor squad) to have addressed Fitzsimons’ death and is out to put the “conspiracy theories” to rest is enough to give one pause. In 2016 investigative journalist Wayne Madsen noted that Snopes.com is a “go-to website for CIA propaganda.” According to Madsen,

Continue reading MemoryHoleBlog Cited By Liberal “Fact Check” Site Snopes.com

0

Infowars and the Lawsuits: A Pincer Movement on Free Speech? (Video)

In this debut of the MemoryHoleBlog’s news analysis and commentary video series we examine the lawsuits filed against Alex Jones and Infowars’ parent company on April 16, 2018.

In 2017 when Jones was sued by James Alefantis over “Pizzagate” the broadcaster settled out of court and agreed to never use the term again, thus leading the way in chilling investigation and commentary on the scandal. Will the public witness the same tactic used in responding to suits filed by Sandy Hook massacre victims’ families?

0

Alex Jones Sued By Sandy Hook Parents

Broadcaster’s Comments Prompted Death Threats, “Torment”

Editor’s Note: In an ongoing war against free speech the popular media personality has been sued in Austin Texas by two families of Sandy Hook massacre event victims.  The legal actions are significant because if they are allowed to proceed Jones’ defense team will have the opportunity to proceed through discovery with the parties, requiring information and sworn testimony pertinent to plaintiffs’ claims be provided before proceeding to trial.


Sebastian Murdock
Huffungton Post
(April 17, 2018)

NBC’s Megan Kelly and Radio Host Alex Jones. Image Credit: AlexJonesChannel/YouTube

Alex Jones has spent years claiming the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School ― where a shooter killed 20 small children and six adults ― was faked. He has claimed the parents of these dead children are liars and “crisis actors.”

Now, those parents are coming after him.

Radio host Alex Jones commenting on Sandy Hook massacre in January 2013

In a pair of lawsuits filed late Monday, the parents of two children who died in the December 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, say Jones’ repeated lies and conspiratorial ravings have led to death threats. The suits join at least two other recent cases accusing the Infowars host of defamation.

I lost my son. I buried my son. I held my son with a bullet hole through his head.Neil Heslin, father of a 6-year-old boy killed during the Sandy Hook shooting.

Neil Heslin, the father of a 6-year-old boy killed in the shooting, and Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, who lost their own little boy, filed the suits in Austin, Texas, where Jones’ conspiracy-minded media outlet is based. Each suit is seeking more than $1 million in damages from Jones, Infowars and a related company, Free Speech Systems LLC. Infowars reporter Owen Shroyer is also named in one of the suits.

“Even after these folks had to experience this trauma, for the next five years they were tormented by Alex Jones with vicious lies about them,” Mark Bankston, the lawyer handling the cases for the parents, told HuffPost. “And these lies were meant to convince his audience that the Sandy Hook parents are frauds and have perpetrated a sinister lie on the American people.”

More…

0

“Why Don’t ‘Liberals’ Want THE TRUTH?”

The Mid-April SPRING! Issue
PENN MAGAZINE – 161 pages

Penn Magazine is named in honor of Penn Jones Jr., one of the first honest researchers into the John Kennedy murder by the U.S. deep state, which was the opening big event, leading to the murders of Martin King and Robert Kennedy, Oklahoma City, 9/11, Sandy Hook, Boston, San Bernardino, Orlando, Las Vegas, Parkland, etc.

Continue reading “Why Don’t ‘Liberals’ Want THE TRUTH?”

0

Facebook and Google Are Today’s Thought Police

Personal Experiences From the Land of Orwellian Censorship

By James F. Tracy

Social media sites that have for many years allowed for the free and unimpeded discussion and exchange of ideas are now eliminating the posts and even entire accounts of content producers sharing observations and analyses that question the official narratives of complex events. This is straight out of a dystopian novel and entirely alarming. It won’t be surprising if colossal blog-hosting outlets such as WordPress.com eventually follow suit.

In late February 2018 YouTube has taken aim at several channels of well-known alternative media personalities using the platform, including David Seaman, Ron Johnson, Scott Creighton, and The Richie Allen Show. The common denominator of all these outlets is that they examine the relationships between the intelligence community, transnational forces, and political institutions.

The Fate of David Seaman, Ron Johnson, Scott Creighton, and Richie Allen’s YouTube Channels

Allen, for example, has over the years hosted an array of guests, many of whom hold nonconformist, “conspiracy”-oriented positions on political concerns and complex public events. At the time YouTube terminated Allen’s channel he had around 70,000 subscribers and his videos had many millions of views. Allen’s channel is one of many that YouTube has summarily pulled the plug on based on the company’s own subjective judgement and reaction to third party pressure.

Continue reading Facebook and Google Are Today’s Thought Police

0

Four Years Later Alex Jones Still Confused By Sandy Hook

By James F. Tracy

Major media and certain figures in the Sandy Hook fundraising and gun control cavalcade have recently highlighted prominent radio infowars-truthhost and filmmaker Alex Jones as a brash and indecisive observer of the Newtown school shooting event. A central reason for the attention of late is the fact that Jones has vigorously supported the Trump-Pence presidential campaign, with the president-elect responding in kind. Fortunately, Jones has issued one of his characteristically unambiguous video editorials to set the record straight.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwudDfz1yAk

As some observers will recall our “tip of the spear” alt-media broadcaster issued a very similar statement in January 2013.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tM5ZdO-IgEE

Jones seems to have been given the unenviable task of convincing his audience to disbelieve or at least withhold judgement on what they’re already certain they’ve detected. This is illustrated in the classic Richard Pryor “lying eyes” monologue, where the comic explains to his significant other as she stumbles upon his philandering, “What you’re seeing here baby–you didn’t really see it. This ain’t goin’ on.”

Continue reading Four Years Later Alex Jones Still Confused By Sandy Hook

0