As the mainstream media repeatedly fails to uphold its mantra of accuracy and objectivity, the nonprofit media is given more of an opening to serve the public interest. When these independent outlets form an alliance, as they did with Media Consortium, it only expands their reach and depth of influence in U.S. society. Mainstream media is so powerful because it is large, grouped together and backed by big money, allowing it to be ubiquitous. But when independent media practice a similar formation by coming together, and while it still may lack the corporate financial backing that mainstream media has, the volume of its voice increases. A media outlet by itself has a tough time being loud enough for a wide audience to hear, but when these outlets start speaking together, it is easier for them to be heard.
When nonprofit media organizations collaborate, not only are they able to expand their reach in terms of audience, they can also work together to share resources and consequently expand their impact and the depth of their content. Independent outlets on their own often face challenges when it comes to funding, which sometimes limit their ability to do the kind of in-depth research that quality journalism necessitates. By strengthening the connections between these outlets, there is more opportunity for them to help one another out for the sake of producing content that best serves the public interest.
The only potential issue I can see arising with the kind of partnership we see with Media Consortium is the loss of the individuality of each of these independent media outlets. What makes independent media so great is that each outlet seems to maintain a niche that fills in the wide-ranging holes left open by mainstream media coverage. Many of them have specific distinctions in how they cover issues, such as Democracy Now!’s knack for reporting alongside grassroots activists, and ProPublica’s ability to conduct long-term investigative research. In many ways, it is these distinctions between the outlets that drive them and reinforce their sense of purpose. If partnerships between nonprofit organizations begin to blur the lines between them, a key characteristic of independent media may be at risk of being lost.
However, I don’t really see any signs that these partnerships will go that far. I believe the outlets involved in these consortiums have enough integrity to know what is important for the work that they do and will not be swept into the kind of conglomerate operations by which the mainstream media is now consumed. These nonprofit partnerships are just another way for independent media to expand their reach and strengthen their voices with the hope of one day overpowering the influence that mainstream media continues to project.