Independent media goes web 2.0

by Steve Anderson, COA News

Non-profit and small for-profit public service oriented media organizations (Independent Media) are, after a delayed response, quickly developing web 2.0 or "social web" tools. In the past many of these organizations have stuck to the old web 1.0 way of simply providing a website with basic capabilities. After seeing the power of media tools like, and communities like Myspace and youtube, public service media enterprises are jumping head first into the web 2.0 game.

Buzz Flash, TreeHugger, and Huffington Post have launched type portals where citizens can submit and vote on current news headlines. BuzzFlash has BUZZ, TreeHugger has Hugg, and Huffington Post has HuffIt. A new non-profit organization called NewTrust just launched a service where citizens can submit and rate news stories and sources based on their level or objectivity. GNN has offered members the ability to submit/vote on both headlines and personal blogs for some time, and just launched an online chat function. GNN also plans to offer video uploading/voting in the near future.

FreeSpeech TV recently launched an online blog community similar to On the FreeSpeech TV community, members can do most of the things one can do on Myspace; post videos, audio, blogs, upload pictures, join and create groups, create networks of “buddies” (called friends on One interesting feature is that once logged in, users automatically see their “buddies” recent content. This is a great tool for keeping up to date on your favorite bloggers, or just to keep tabs on what your “buddies” are up to. FreeSpeech TV is also launching a V-Log platform where selected V-logs (citizen video reports) will be broadcast on the FSTV Television station: a satellite and public access TV station reaching 25 million homes. Z Magazine also plans to offer a Myspace style community called Zspace.

Alternet recently launched an online dating community called Alternet Personals, where progressives can find other singles in their region, post video introductions, blogs, pictures, and other information. Members can also create “friend networks” similar” to the popular social networking website FaceBook. One of the most innovative features is their live chat function that includes live video!

With their exceptional popularity, these social web tools are increasingly important, and it is incredibly significant that independent media organizations are developing these tools before the corporate news outlets. As Alternet Personals illustrates, independent media can capture significant audiences if they are innovative and timely in offering social web tools.

The power of the last three projects (Alternet Personals, FSTV, Zspace) is not just in the social networking capabilities (which are themselves powerful), but also that they have the potential to become more then just online communities, but also personal spaces where people can both send and receive their online content. In future, members could, in addition to posting headlines, blogs, and videos, also receive headlines via RSS feeds catering to their pre-selected preferences. This creates a viable alternative to Google, Yahoo and others who are rushing to create the best all in one online package. Unlike Google, FSTV and the other public service oriented media organizations won’t monitor your private online activity, nor will they attempt to slam commercial ads in your face.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey