In 2016, a Natural Awakenings feature article, “Real News that Matters: Independent Media Tell Us the Truth,” was written by our senior writer, Linda Sechrist. It featured a quote from award-winning independent journalist Amy Goodman, host and co-founder of the Democracy Now! news hour, airing on 1,400 public broadcasting stations. Goodman, who received an award for “developing an innovative model of truly independent grassroots political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by the mainstream media,” eloquently stated:
“When we cover war and peace, we need media that are not brought to us by the weapons manufacturers. When we cover climate change, we are not brought to you by the oil, gas and nuclear companies. When we cover health care, we are not brought to you by the insurance industry or drug companies. We are brought to you by listeners, viewers and readers deeply committed to independent information—that’s what’s critical.”
Decades of corporate mergers have reduced ownership of our airwaves to just six major corporations. While the mainstream news outlets may be convenient sources of quick information, they often latch onto attention-grabbing and polarizing controversy, utilizing alarming, divisive and extreme-sounding headlines and storylines that trigger our instinctual reactions and ignite controversy and conflict. The real stories underlying national and world events are deeper and more complex; there are more players and perspectives to consider and more stones to overturn. Media operating outside the large conglomerates have more freedom to question the simplified mainstream narrative and dig deeper.
Natural Awakenings is one of many publications delivering cutting-edge information about natural, noninvasive, non-pharmaceutical health remedies presented by health and wellness advocates, scientists and researchers. Natural healing and life-sustaining solutions that contradict much of the mainstream medical narrative and circumvent the pockets of pharmaceutical companies garner little attention from major media conglomerates. How lucky we are to have other outlets for independent thinkers and voices, and how critical that we strive to support all outlets of free speech and thought.
Recently, the United States has experienced censorship attempts and attacks on all forms of media—both mainstream and independent. Attempts to censor journalists leads down a slippery and treacherous slope. We should each consider how our individual political and social perspectives affect our way of interpreting the stories and views expressed by news outlets and journalists. Even those we may not respect have a right to exist and be protected under our precious First Amendment. We are deluged with information at our fingertips around the clock. Instead of censoring the opinions and speech of others, it is our right—and our responsibility—as citizens of this great country to be discerning consumers of media and seek truth, wherever it might be.
Let us unite in the power of free thought,
Gabriella Buchnik, Publisher Natural Awakenings Milwaukee