A national network of nearly 70 “progressive, independent media outlets,” the Media Consortium (MC) grew out of a 2005 initiative of some two-dozen leaders of print, radio, television, and online media who convened to discuss how they could: (a) “increase independent journalism’s voice in broader public debates about the crucial political and social issues of our day,” and (b) “navigate the current wave of profound technological change that is reshaping the media business and redefining the practice of journalism itself.” In early 2006, these media outlets coalesced to form MC, an alliance committed to the foregoing objectives.
To promote a wide range of “progressive ideals,” MC since 2010 has administered a number of major projects in the areas of “Amplifying Our [Independent Media’s] Voice,” “Building Connections,” and “Building Infrastructure.” These include:
* Media Policy Reporting and Education Pilot Program: In an effort to “change the public conversation and understanding of media policy,” this initiative supports “regular reporting on nitty, gritty policy issues as well as reporting on the everyday implications of these policies on the ground.”
* Extreme Energy: This program opposes efforts to develop energy resources through “extreme measures” such as hydraulic fracturing (gas and oil), tar sand drilling (oil), and mountaintop removal (coal).
* Reproductive Justice: Lamenting that “women’s [pregnancy-related] choices are being narrowed by local legislation” in various states, this project calls for “easy access to contraceptives and information on reproductive health.” Moreover, it favors universal access to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand.
* Media for the 99%: In October 2011, MC strove to “giv[e] voice to the messages of the Occupy movement,” most notably its claim that “the political process has ignored the needs, wants, and wishes of 99% of U.S. citizens.”
* Campaign Cash: In 2011, MC supported special investigative projects designed to track and expose corporate influence on American politics.
* Impact Metrics: In the spring of 2012, MC launched a new initiative to quantitatively measure how much of an impact various media outlets have on individuals, organizations, and government policy. Such data could then be utilized to inform broadcasting and publishing strategies.
* Database Integration: Emphasizing that “the multiplication of data is worthless unless it can be collated and analyzed,” this project is intended to help media outlets “integrate their various data on their audiences.”
* Building Connections: Each year, MC members convene for an annual meeting where they can network and form alliances with one another. The Consortium also administers a listserv to solicit ideas and convey updates vis à vis its various activities, projects, and events.
Among MC’s member groups are Alternet, The American Prospect, Brave New Films, Democracy Now!, Dissent, the Earth Island Journal (of the Earth Island Institute), Free Speech TV, Generation Progress (formerly Campus Progress), Mother Jones, Ms. Magazine, (see Ms. Foundation for Women), The Nation, the Nation Institute, Political Research Associates, and The Progressive. For a comprehensive list of MC members, click here.
MC’s executive director is Jo Ellen Green Kaiser, who has also served as managing editor and associate publisher of Tikkun; publisher of LiP: Informed Revolt; executive director and editor-in-chief of Zeek; and co-editor of Righteous Indignation: A Jewish Response to Justice. Billing herself as an expert on the “Jewish social justice movement,” Kaiser has written on this topic for such publications as the Jewish Daily Forward, Sojourners, and InterfaithFamily.com.
Philanthropies that support MC’s work often channel their contributions through the Foundation for National Progress. Among the entities to have done this are George Soros’s Open Society Institute, the Surdna Foundation, and the Wyncote Foundation.