- Training center for liberal and leftist bloggers
- Affiliated with Media Matters
Dedicated to “balancing” what it deems “conservative dominance in traditional media,” the Center for Independent Media (CIM) describes itself as “a not-for-profit organization that fosters diversity of ideas in the national debate by bringing talented and diverse voices and ideas to the fore of our nation's discourse, through its fellowships, conferences, and research. … The Center's fellowships and programs focus on blogs as a fast-growing exemplar of independent media that works to diversify the spectrum of ideas in the national debate.”
Officially launched in April 2006, CIM states that it grew out of “a four-month intensive research study conducted by a progressive not-for-profit media watchdog organization.” (An organization that fits this description perfectly is the George Soros- and Hillary Clinton-affiliated Media Matters, from which CIM rents office space in Washington, DC, but CIM does not identify the “watchdog” group by name.) “The research project’s objective,” CIM continues, “was to understand how blogs work to broaden ideological diversity in the media, and how to reinforce these positive effects. The study focused on how blogs advance original information and expert commentary that impacts the national debate. Fifty-three bloggers were surveyed in January-February 2006, providing essential empirical data on the demographics of blogging, and the specific needs, in terms of education and services, that bloggers require in order to be more effective. The results of these surveys and analysis led to the decision to create the Center for Independent Media as a progressive not-for-profit learning center … producing original news and information that augments the current media landscape of local newspapers, television, and radio …”
The baseline term of a CIM fellowship is 3 months, with the possibility of renewal once the term expires. In practice, most of the fellowships are in fact renewed, and thus span two three-month periods. Fellowship recipients receive: “a stipend of $4,500 to be paid over 3 months; investigative journalism training; editorial mentorship from experts in the field of blogging and/or journalism; research tools such as Lexis Nexis and access to information databases; legal information, advice and access to legal representation; technical help and consulting; networking opportunities with other bloggers, news media and news makers in the state; and possible media training/booking and other promotion of the work produced.”
In exchange for the foregoing benefits, CIM fellows are expected to: “produce at least 3 blog posts [2 to 3 paragraphs apiece] per day on average …; fulfill goals in original reporting, to be set on an individual basis; demonstrate an impact on statewide debate; adhere to a set of ethical and journalistic standards; participate in all trainings, meetings, and conferences; and regularly submit a status report on their blogging endeavors.”
CIM chose Colorado as a testing ground for its first fellowship program. More recently, it launched a second program in Minnesota, where the organization is currently seeking to hire a State Coordinator whose duties will be to “help build a progressive channel of communication, via blogs … about state and local issues, [and to] be responsible for all activity in the state, including outreach to bloggers, logistics and delivery of training and support, coordination of blogger fellows in Minnesota, and fostering relationships between bloggers and other progressive leaders within Minnesota.” CIM stipulates that applicants for this position must be Minnesota residents and should possess, above all, “a strong commitment to progressive values and uncovering the truth.” On the application form, candidates must answer each of the following essay questions:
1. What drives you/interests you about news reporting?
2. How does blogging relate to your professional ambitions?
3. Do you see yourself a journalist, activist, pundit, or combination thereof?
4. What are the types of stories you would like to report on? If you had a journalistic “beat”, what would it be?
5. What activist experience do you have (i.e. have you volunteered for a campaign, are you a member of any advocacy groups, etc.)?
6. Which national bloggers are your favorites to visit? Minnesota bloggers?
7. How would you characterize your relationships with other bloggers? What kind of activities would you like to see among bloggers and what has been your experience with such activities to date?
CIM’s Program Director is a young woman named Ali Savino. As of November 1, 2006, the following ten individuals were CIM’s Minnesota fellows, writing predominantly about local issues:
Abdi Aynte: This Minneapolis resident writes and edits the bilingual Somali-oriented blog Hiiraan Online, and also blogs at TCDailyPlanet.net. On September 6, 2006, Aynte disputed claims that illegal aliens are a drain on taxpayer dollars in Minnesota, stating that such charges fail to consider “the revenue generated by undocumented workers, who many of them [sic] pay taxes.” On October 25, 2006, Aynte praised the Council on American-Islamic Relations for seeking to “wane [sic] down anti-Muslim stereotyping in the Fifth Congressional District” of Minnesota, where Keith Ellison is campaigning to become the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress.
Andy Birkey: This recent graduate of the University of Minnesota holds a degree in Urban Forestry, Urban Studies, and Sociology. Originally from Peoria, Illinois, he has been a Minneapolis resident since 2000 and is active in LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) issues, HIV/AIDS advocacy, and environmental and transit concerns in the Twin Cities.
Joe Bodell: This blogger for Minnesota Campaign Report wrote, on October 18, 2006: “The goals of government and religion have been warped, twisted together like some gnarled, mutated swamp creature by twelve years of a Republican majority in Congress, of which six have included a President [George W. Bush] who has readily and willingly manipulated the American evangelical Christian community for its voting and organizational strength.”
Craig Cox: The part-time managing editor of Twin Cities Daily Planet (a grant-funded website that aggregates stories from small newspapers and other websites), Cox is also the editor/co-owner of the local community news site, The Minneapolis Observer.
Jeff Fecke: An aspiring novelist who lives in Eagan, Minnesota, Fecke has been writing the “Blog of the Moderate Left” since 2002. He is also the co-creator of DFLSenate, and is a columnist for Minvolved.com. On October 12, 2006, Fecke wrote: “certainly it can be said that the Bush administration’s Korean policy, like the rest of the Bush administration’s foreign policy, has been an abject failure.”
Matt Martin: He is the founder and editor of the liberal blog MN Publius.
Robin Marty: His writings appear on the Power Liberal, Drinking Liberally, and DFLSenate blog sites. On October 5, 2006, Marty wrote that “National Security advisor Condelezza [sic] Rice was clearly warned about Al Queda attacks before 9/11 and failed to do anything about it and then lied to the 9/111 [sic] commission about it, and lied about lying about it until official records contradicted her.”
Leigh Pomeroy: The 2004 Democratic Party candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Minnesota's 1st Congressional District, Pomeroy is an adjunct professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato. A strong believer in the dangers of global warming, he wrote in July 2006: “The planet burns while George Bush fiddles. … Meanwhile the Middle East is burning up in another sense as well. … Surely, no rational person can say that the planet is appreciably better off now than it was six years ago. Blame can be attributed to many sources, most visibly the principal fiddler, Mr. Bush. … [O]ur energies should be spent working for positive change -- change that can be manifest in the November elections.” “The evidence is now absolutely clear,” he wrote in June 2006, “that the Bush administration selectively chose evidence to take the U.S. into war against Saddam Hussein, leaving Iraq in an even worse situation that it was under that tyrant's leadership.”
Sara Reller: Focusing her writings on the Democratic Party, Reller describes herself as “a big city progressive with a rural background.”
Paul Schmelzer: This blogger wrote a September 27, 2006 piece titled “We love torture, yes we do,” lamenting that “The U.S. is one step closer to OKing a new bill that limits the rights of detainees and, according to Democrats, may result in continued torture of terror suspects.”