May 16, 2013

While concerns among some journalists mount concerning interest from Rupert Murdoch and the Koch Brothers over the sale of the Tribune Co., activist group The Other 98% proposes a different kind of community journalism. They’ve begun a campaign on called Free The Press, which aims to raise $660 million to “democratize the Tribune Company.”

“The only people who are bidding on it right now are infamous right-wing Billionaires, who are likely to pay something around a $660 Million pricetag to control a big slice of trusted news media,” the campaign reads. “Instead of sitting back an allowing whichever victor to manipulate us through the media, we’ve decided to stage an intervention. And we want you to join us.”

The Other 98% staffer Nicole Carty, who appears in a promotional video for the campaign, told Poynter via email the bids by Murdoch and Kochs made the organization question why it’s apparently so difficult for “an accessible platform for news” to be made available for the public.

“This would just be another horrible addition in a long list of corporately controlled media and that’s a real problem,” Carty told Poynter. “The media is supposed to be free and owned by regular people, so that’s why we asked ordinary folks to pool their funds on Indiegogo to try to buy the Tribune Company.” The Other 98% campaign does not involve anyone “that would self-identify first as journalists,” she said, although the group considers itself “in part a media organization.”

With 31 days left to reach its $660 million goal, the campaign has taken in a little more than $15,000. When asked whether the campaign was being done on earnest, or mostly to raise awareness of the potential outcome of the sale, Carty said it comes down to how much people care about their media sources.

“It is earnestly trying to pose that question and assert that ordinary folks should control the media rather than these right-wing billionaires or any billionaire for that matter,” she said. “We’re trying to send a message that the press should be free and democratic. And if enough people agree with that message and we do raise the funds then yes, we’ll put in a bid for the Tribune Company.

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Joshua Gillin is a contributor to Poynter's MediaWire blog and a writer, editor and pop culture blogger for the Tampa Bay Times and its sister…
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