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Why independent journalism is so important right now

Journalism in America is facing an existential crisis. 

Even before Donald Trump claimed long-respected newspapers are “enemies of the people” that churn out “fake news,” the business of making the news in American was in trouble. Print circulation plummeted, readership slipped, ad sales sunk, many struggled with digital era growing pains. Newsroom layoffs have tragically become commonplace, and many newspapers have shuttered. In fact, 1 in 5 newspapers have gone out of business in the last 15 years, and newspaper employment has been cut in half since 2008.

Now add to that the constant attacks by right-wing elected officials — spurred on by narcissist-in-chief whose self-worth depends on fawning news coverage — who disparage the very press freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment. These smears have not only eroded support for free journalism itself, but for the very foundations of democracy our nation was built upon. 

Yet today, despite these setbacks, journalism — especially independent and investigative journalism — is more important than ever, especially in the age of Trump. Many corporate-owned news outlets, whose profits, agendas and outside influence affect coverage, continue to struggle covering the intentional un-truthing of reality and “alternative facts” pushed by Trump and the conservative propaganda machine. They continue to “both sides” important issues with quaint notions of fairness, and still use terms like “falsehoods” and “racially-charged” when “lie” and “racist” are the words they’re looking for. And make no mistake, Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign was a boon to the cable news industry which got “filthy rich” while Trump benefited from roughly $6 billion in free media air time.

Progressive independent and investigative media outlets, on the other hand, are not beholden to shareholder profits, government pressure, advertiser influence, censorship or increasing media consolidation. Typically funded by a mix of subscriptions, donations, limited advertising and other revenue streams, progressive independent media can maintain editorial independence, hold those in power accountable and take deep dives into urgent issues, like climate change or systemic racism, without fear of reprisals by the government or corporate sponsors. 

But as Bernie Sanders once put it, the mainstream media is largely uninterested in covering the issues that matter most to most Americans: 

“For the corporate media, the real issues facing the American people— poverty, the decline of the middle class, income and wealth inequality, trade, healthcare, climate change, etc.—are fairly irrelevant. For them, politics is largely presented as entertainment.”

You may know some of these progressive independent outlets well, as some are long-time CREDO allies or grantee partners, including The American Prospect, The Nation, Mother Jones, Common Dreams, In These Times, Rewire.News, Grist, Democracy Now!, and InsideClimate News. Here at CREDO, we read and financially support progressive independent and investigative news outlets because we know how critical they are right now to protecting the values we hold dear and to preserving our democracy. 

We also know how important this kind of independent, progressive reporting is to our members. That’s why for a limited time we’re offering our CREDO base a full year of Mother Jones magazine in addition to great phone and BYOD deals. If you’re looking for a way to support smart, fearless journalism while making a difference with your phone bill every month, call us at 855-767-3465 and take advantage of this limited-time offer.