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Watching Fox -- One Year and Counting

Reported by Judy - February 9, 2005

Last February 9, eight strangers from across the country sat down in front of their television sets, notepads and pens at the ready, looking for – exactly what we were not sure. All eight had volunteered to be "media monitors" for filmmaker Robert Greenwald, watching the Fox News Channel for material Greenwald could shape into a documentary about the channel's role as a Republican propaganda outlet.

Today, you know the eight of us as the News Hounds. We are celebrating our one-year anniversary of watching Fox so you don't have to with a special post remembering how each of us got involved in monitoring the news channel, the experience of watching our first Fox show, and how it has changed each of us.

Here are some thoughts from each of us:

Ellen: "I volunteered for the movie during a real low point in my life. Somehow I missed who the producer was and I had visions of some grad student's film project in, say, Ohio but I volunteered because I thought it would be a good credit for my resume and I thought it would be interesting. I figured I'd spend a few hours some weekend and that would be that. Hah!

"Actually, I thought I'd be excluded from the film because the original conference call that set everything up was scheduled during the one hour of the week that I absolutely, positively could not come to the phone. Boy, was I surprised to come home that night and find a monitoring schedule along with instructions from Jim Gilliam in my email box."

Melanie: "One evening in late January, 2004 I wrote a few paragraphs in response to a vague email asking for volunteers to monitor television news for a film project. I clicked 'send' and entered a whole new world. Working on Robert Greenwald's Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism was an incredible experience in terms of learning about the nuance of media messaging and the behind-the-scenes of movie-making. Now, working on the blog, calling attention to right-wing propaganda tucked into the ‘fair and balanced news' of Fox News, and developing a relationship with the wonderful women of the News Hounds, I can say I've found my calling and my passion. I'm the luckiest person on Earth."

ChrisH: "It was a simple twist of fate that I responded to MoveOn.org's call for volunteers to monitor Fox News Channel. I had never watched it before, but a quick look was all I needed to know it was not to be taken seriously as a source of news and information. I have since learned it is a force to be reckoned with, in forming people's opinions and subtly cultivating bias and harmful divisiveness in our country.

"I never dreamed that call would lead to working with a well-known filmmaker and becoming involved in the fascinating world of blogs. It has been an added bonus, the cherry on top, to befriend and come to respect the extraordinary women with whom I share my daily life now."

Deb: "I remember feeling so overwhelmed the first time I monitored Fox. Sitting with my notebook and a list of all the things Robert wanted us to record, I was paralyzed by all the stimuli flying at me. Graphics, headlines, swooshes, tickers, video clips were impossible to process at first but I was immediately fascinated by the Fox propaganda machine. I quickly realized that Fox News had the incredible power to influence the consciousness of this country. What I've learned in this year has opened my eyes and strengthened my commitment to this work.

"But the most unexpected gift of this year has been the wonderful women I've come to admire and love. We have become a family bound together by our fierce drive and commitment. This has been the greatest adventure of my life and I know it's just beginning."

On watching for the first time:

Ellen: "I remember so clearly my first FOX-watching experience for the movie. It was Saturday night and I was watching Heartland with John Kasich after a long day at work (I work on Saturdays). I was lying on my bed, exhausted, with my pad of paper and a print-out of the categories to watch for. I remember thinking, ‘Piece of cake. Nothing much going on in this show,' until a report on the ‘breaking news' that a man had been arrested for the murder of a young girl named Carly Brucia. Reporter Orlando Salinas called the suspect a ‘monster' and I sat up, suddenly alert. Wasn't everybody
supposed to be innocent until proven guilty in a court of law? This guy hadn't even been formally charged yet and FOX had adjudged him guilty of something, even if not of that crime. I was shocked, I was dismayed, I was outraged, I was hooked."

Judy: "'Why in the world did I agree to watch a show that airs at 8 a.m?' is what I asked myself the first morning I monitored ‘Fox and Friends.' I missed the first ten seconds, and soon learned that is the only time Fox identifies the three co-hosts of the channel's low-rent imitation of the ‘Today Show.' It took me days to figure out that ‘Eadie' Hill was really E.D. Hill and that I could record the time of an event using the time stamp Fox puts on the screen. But I needed only minutes to notice that nearly everything Fox does fit into Greenwald's category of ‘Partisanship in the News.'"

On what the last year has meant:

Marie Therese: "In the year since I volunteered to monitor FOX News Channel for the documentary Outfoxed my life has been enriched in so many ways it is hard to keep track.

"First and foremost I am so thankful to have met and be working with the other News Hounds, a group of incredible women who came together through serendipity and who, by dint of hard work and passionate commitment, have become a force in the fight against media bias. Chris, Deborah, Ellen, Judy, Melanie and Nancy are like the sisters I never had. Through emotional meltdowns and exuberant celebrations, we have bonded in so many ways that I cannot visualize my life without them or our blog. And, what can I say about our blogfather, Jim? Without him, we could never have negotiated our way through the labyrinth of a technological world we had never experienced before.

"For me personally, the work on the documentary and now blogging have given me a sense that I can make a difference in the world, that in some small way our posts are being read and striking a blow for the progressive message in a world of media dominated by reactionary talk radio, FOX News Channel and a bunch of FOX wannabes.

"Much as I love teaching piano, I love writing and research almost as much.

If only I didn't need sleep!"

Nancy sums up all our feelings: "Finding other people who are outraged, incensed and infuriated by FNC's blatant bias, prejudice and radical agenda is easy. But finding other people who were willing to do something about it? That was just manna from heaven."

Finding all of you who come to the News Hounds site to read our thoughts and contribute your own views also has been a tremendous gift. It gives us hope to know there are other people in America who can see through the haze of news reports driven by corporate greed and a partisan agenda instead of the broader public interest. Your participation confirms the need for and value of our efforts, especially on days when we think we just can't take another shrill O'Reilly rant.

Although we all have learned a lot in the past year – about Fox, thanks to Robert Greenwald, and about blogging thanks to Blogfather Jim – we do not want to stop here. In May, several of the News Hounds plan to attend the National Conference for Media Reform, May 13-15, in St. Louis. We are doing all we can to cut costs – sharing hotel rooms, applying for scholarships from the sponsor Free Press, and bringing our own food – but the expense is still a stretch for some of us.

Please consider a small donation to help make this trip possible for those News Hounds on budgets already stretched by the cost of upgraded computers and new software to keep our site running smoothly.

And if you're really interested, consider joining us in St. Louis.

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