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Project Rewire: New Media from the Inside Out.

Reported by Ellen - October 9, 2006 -

Project Rewire: New Media from the Inside Out is the name of Judy's new book. I am pleased to introduce her book and the following guest blog from her editor, Tom Sumner:

Judy’s book is the latest in a series that brings political bloggers and Internet journalists to print. I kicked off this series last year to fill a need I was feeling after a few years of reading blogs.

You may know this one--you get into reading a blog post or other Internet article, find a link you cannot resist clicking, go read that post, then inevitably find more links there to click. Like the childhood game of telephone where a message morphs slightly with each transmitted and received whisper, it does not take long to find yourself far from your original topic. It’s very active, interesting, and lively reading, but I always desired the alternative--what would happen if the Internet sat still and just got read? No links, no ads, no animation--just words on the page. If you picked the right material, would it work?

Well, it works for me. Judy has pulled together disparate voices--some of them giants of the Internet like Josh Marshall, Robert Parry, and David Sirota, some of them smaller independent bloggers like Eli Stephens of Left I on the News and Bob Pagani, the Cranky Media Guy, some of them big-time establishment media journalists like Jeff Jarvis, Eric Margolis, and Greg Palast--and pieced together posts that tell the story of the current state of American media.

It’s a depressing tale of missed opportunities and deceit on the one hand; tremendous diligence and hope on the other. The importance of the new Internet media is emphasized, but so is the role of establishment media. Many familiar (but possibly forgotten) stories, such as Carl Cameron’s bogus news story about John Kerry’s manicures and major media’s dismissal of The Downing Street Memos, are cast in the context of a bigger picture of the current state of media. As David Bender, Air America host of “Politically Direct” put it: “Judy Daubenmier has panned for gold in the free-flowing Internet stream of ideas, and the result is this treasure trove of a book.”

If you need more by way of endorsement, there’s Judy’s own contribution--an introductory essay that covers the history of American news coverage from the beginning of the television era to today. Like the good historian she is, she succinctly and correctly characterizes the movements of the media over the past 50 years, and the policies that drove them. When we showed it to David Barsamian of Alternative Radio, his response was this: “Her own context-setting essay is a must read.”

There are two addendums to the book. The epilogue runs down four areas where Internet media and Internet activism are working to drive positive changes in the media, either by being better presenters of the news (as in the better blogs) or advocating for policy changes (or, as in the case of Net Neutrality, AGAINST policy changes). The appendix is a list of questions about media policy to be put to every candidate for public office, generated by Free Press. It’s like Cenk Uygur, host of “The Young Turks” says: “Her aim isn’t to tear the press down; it’s to help it rise back up. Let’s hope people read what she has written so they can figure out how to do just that.”

I think Judy’s book is a winner in a big way, and I think we can all help make it a big success. Judy will be hitting the radio interview circuit, so you can expect to see some publicity for it in the coming weeks. Glenn Greenwald’s How Would a Patriot Act?, with widespread support mainly from the progressive side of the blogosphere, hit number one on Amazon and was catapulted to the New York Times bestseller list last spring. He made a great case for supporting like-minded endeavors:

The Right long ago realized that the economic success of its political products translates into all sorts of critical benefits--from creating the perception that its ideas are popular and credible to ensuring its advocates widespread media access. That's why they expend so much effort to ensure the success of their books--even going so far as to have organizations purchase them in large bulk and then sell them at a huge loss--and it's also why it is so important to them to disparage the economic viability of liberal media projects. For better or worse, the impact which a political product can have is a function of its economic viability.

You can help support the cause by buying and reading this book, of course. I promise you won’t be disappointed. But you can also tell others about it and suggest your local library keep a copy on their shelves to make it available for everyone to read. Go to Amazon and write a review. Suggest Judy as a guest on your local community radio stations, or think of other creative ways to help spread the word. Judy has made a tremendous effort with lots of support from her fellow bloggers here and the contributors to the book. As the publisher, we do everything we can to spread the word; as her readers, you can help, too.

Project Rewire: New Media from the Inside Out