Considered: Ocasio-Cortez on Independent Journalism

“Gonna keep it [100 emoji]: The biggest threats to journalism right now are tech monopolies & concentration of ownership.

Healthy democracy *requires* high-quality journalism.

W/o a wide range of independent outlets & the revenue to sustain them, our democracy will continue to crumble.”

That was freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez last Saturday, taking the time to say something that isn’t said nearly enough by people in positions of great power. I’ve made it clear in the past that I’m not an Ocasio-Cortez fanboy, despite having just written about her the other week, but this one certainly earned some points. It might be a sad thing (or not) that someone can “earn points” with a social media post, but that’s a topic for another day.

As someone who literally fell into journalism about seven years ago, I can confirm that the struggle is both real, and not particularly new. The Advocate has always been a fight, physically and conceptually. On one hand we love doing what we do, and on the other we see the great responsibility papers like us wield, and seek to both respect that and use it to do good. It’s hard to do that with dwindling funds, though we’ve all been really taken aback by the outpouring of community support as we’ve tried to create a more sustainable business model. People apparently care about preserving journalism, and that reinvigorates us all.

Are we this high quality, independent journalism she’s talking about, though? We’re a locally-owned alternative press, meaning we’re not beholden to the kind of national media megacorp Ocasio-Cortez warns about. Instead, we operate an independent editorial board, and hire from a pool of community advocates. Most of our staff have no formal training, but learn quickly, and more than make up for it in their investment in making Corvallis a better place to live. That sounds pretty damn high quality to me.

I don’t particularly believe we are helping to save democracy in a grand sense, certainly not duking it out on a national scale, but we sure as hell are working on it around here. And while I’ve got every reason to talk up this paper all day long, the point is that it feels good to know someone like Ocasio-Cortez has our back, and we’ve got yours.

While funding means our door isn’t always open, our email address is. Know something, have a comment, part of something cool? Do the thing, and we’ll do our thing. Hopefully the powerful will step up and help keep the free press free, but in the meantime, let’s just get it done ourselves.

By Johnny Beaver