Journalism Degree. $50,000. Laptop. $1,000. Free Speech. Pricel….oops, just kidding, that’ll cost ya.

 

Seems to be a reoccurring theme here. Is “free” speech really “free”?

I took a sort of pledge to day in class that I promised to read the article Jeff Cohen handed out in class, Don’t Stamp Out Brainy Mags. Well, I stuck to that pledge & read it. I had no intentions of blogging about it prior to reading it. But WOW.

The article isn’t super recent, it was written in the Spring of 2007 about the approved spikes in postal rates that would negatively effect small, independent magazine outlets. Costs for these magazines were intended to jump nearly 30%, bringing costs for the business operations at an incredibly high level- out of reach for many. But that isn’t even the bad part about this story. The proposed increase was not the idea of the postal service or the government in an attempt to boost revenue, no! it was by the manipulating minds of media conglomerate giant Time Warner. And how convienent that Time Warner owns some of the biggest magazine’s in the U.S: People, In Style and Time. The business plan was projected to vastly benefit Time Warner & its many projects, so revenue would sky rocket- small, independent magazines however, that (the article says & I agree) “enrich the public debate far more than their modest budgets suggest.”

This common theme seems to be interjecting itself into the world of independent & non-mainstream media outlets. The power of money is threatening to hinder & ruin the mobilization of indy media. && this is not to say that I am at all denoting the success of indy media, because frankly despite the incredible obstacles it has to overcome, indy outlets & sources have reached incredible heights & great success.

the article discussed that sure the internet is facilitating a great home for indy outlets to call home, but for a lot of indy outlets it is not a sufficient source of revenue. I think though that his concern is not so much realistic currently. The potential for indy outlets to profit online is significant- look at Huffington Post & the many blogs that have hit it big & are profiting & are far from mainstream- to name a few: Legal Insurrection, Perez Hilton, Democracy Now! & so many more!

So, potential success is there. The internet is not a doomed place or a facilitator that will put hundreds of people out of business.

Back to this particular article though! It brings up a serious point about free speech. If in order to publicize your free speech & your message you have to pay & & so without the funds, your free speech isn’t reaching an audience as it would via the postal service (in this case). That is not equality of the press & it is certainly not an exercising of free speech (which is a CONSTITUTIONAL liberty). The article even quotes the Postal Service’s mission ( which is laid out by federal law), “to bind the nation together through the personal, education, literary and business correspondence of the people.” Its purpose is to facilitate conversation- without the pure, not tainted, abundant practice and exercise of free speech this mission is not fulfilled.

So just how  free is free? Apparently free is becoming a commodity & comes at a price.

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