The Rise of IndyMedia
By : Cynthia La Grou (Tehran Iran AP Photo / Ben Curtis)
After the seemingly useless microblog, Twitter, captured the global imagination as the only available news transmitting platform during the 2009 Iranian election protests, do you ever wonder about how much access to a free press you have in your country? Every year, Reporters without Borders compiles a World Press Freedom Index. The index measures press freedom violations such as harassment, censorship, the legal framework of the media, the independence of the public media, Internet restrictions and financial pressure.

In 2006 the U.S. ranked 53rd on the Index and rose to 36th domestically (and 119th outside its own territory) in 2008. The first positions are held by European countries with Iceland, Luxembourg and Norway being tied for first. The countries ranking top in the index typically have a parliamentary democratic system and are not involved in any war.

For the most part, the media seems to spread a lot of skewed information and corporate propaganda. Since 1983, in a short span of 15 years, news sources have dwindled from 50 corporations to a monopoly of six corporations, which include Time Warner, Disney, Viacom (formerly CBS) and General Electric's NBC, Murdoch's News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, who are the top owners of the combined media and entertainment industry: being newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, books, records, movies, videos, wire services and photo agencies. The result - Americans have become well entertained consumers, but know less about the world around them and the interrelated global issues that will impact them the most.

The Internet and social media may very well be the last source for independent, free-thinking news available. Luckily, innovation is occurring everywhere. The 21st Century of technology, commerce and globalization is leveling most of the typical hierarchical, top down playing fields where people anywhere, with minimal resources, can have an equal opportunity to compete or participate.

This represents individual and collective shifts of perception where geographical, economic, and cultural divides are inadvertently challenged and more and more, lines become blurred between personal and professional, status, education, gender, lay and clergy, and other now seemingly irrelevant divisions.

People no longer need permission to be empowered. They can connect, innovate, exchange information, and participate on any level at anytime, anywhere throughout the world. This 21st century flattening can be noticed particularly in the domain of media, as the wide spread adoption of social media and pocket or suitcase sized technology for capturing media opens a new playing field for the exchange of news and information.
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