Nieman Lab Digs OptOut 🗞 Who's Fighting Student Debt Relief? 🗞 Politico Aids Railroad Lobby
Did you see the OptOut News feature from Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab? As we near the one-year anniversary of our iOS app launch, OptOut is getting major recognition. The well known journalism analysts at Nieman Lab reviewed our innovative independent news aggregation app and interviewed Alex Kotch (me), the co-founder and executive director of the OptOut Media Foundation. The article has already led to over 1,500 new app downloads and lots of applications from news outlets that want to join our network.
Now, more than ever, news consumers need a financially independent news ecosystem they can trust is free from conflicts of interest.
"Americans’ trust in the media is at an all-time low," I told reporter Hanaa' Tameez. "We can’t risk having people not trust the news that we’re pushing out. And frankly, we don’t have faith in news that has financial conflicts of interest."
In other OptOut news, we had a great party/fundraiser in Brooklyn last Monday! Despite an ice storm, plenty of folks came out, had a drink, and supported our mission. If you're in the NYC area, stay tuned for more events this year!
The OptOut Network Expands
This week we welcome three more independent outlets to our news network!
MORE PERFECT UNION is an advocacy journalism organization building power for working people and holding corporations accountable.
In partnership with the Debt Collective, MORE PERFECT UNION produced a video explaining who's behind the group funding the Supreme Court case challenging student debt relief, the rightwing Job Creators Network.
THE UPSURGE is a new podcast from labor reporter Teddy Ostrow about the labor struggle at UPS. Start at the beginning.
COUNTERDISINFORMATION PROJECT is a U.K.-based newsletter that exposes disinformation networks, political influence, astroturf organizations, opaquely funded think tanks, and the role the media plays in creating misleading narratives. A recent entry looks at the founder of the U.K. branch of Turning Point USA, a QAnon adherent who also happens to be a COVID-19 misinformation spreader.
Speaking of COVID misinformation, OptOut's Walker Bragman published a story on Moms for Liberty, a rightwing organization that bills itself as grassroots but has gotten lots of help from major donors, rightwing media personalities, and secretive political networks. These "school board moms" have been responsible for escalating attacks on critical race theory, book bans, and opposing COVID school safety measures.
Sticking with the far right, THE INTERCEPT explains how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is ripping up democracy in his country after allying with extremists to avoid prosecution for influence peddling and bribery, is helping the movement to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel (BDS) for its heinous treatment of Palestine.
STATUS COUP has been on the ground in Ohio since the devastating train derailment in East Palestine. A recent video interviews a resident about Norfolk Southern's offer to buy her home and relocate her because the wreck's chemical pollution made it too unsafe to return to.
Following the devastating derailment, corporate media icon Politico is helping the rail industry fight new safety regulations, reporter THE LEVER's Andrew Perez.
DOCUMENTED reports some good news: OSHA has ruled that immigrant workers who are victims of labor trafficking, wage theft, safety violations, and other workplace abuses can obtain visas.
Prior to the announcement, only law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, or judges involved in a criminal investigation could issue visa certifications. But the new rules, which will take effect on March 30, not only protect workers from immigration-related retaliation from their employers but will also allow workers to remain in the U.S. with lawful status while OSHA investigates and prosecutes illegal workplace practices.
The editor-in-chief of the WISCONSIN EXAMINER writes about migrant child labor in her state and a grant to fight labor trafficking.
In Other News
Pandemic-related food stamp benefits expired this month, and that's hitting American families hard, especially with inflation still so prevalent.
THE APPEAL documents the effects of the “violent felon” label, which "can mean someone committed anything from a murder to a purse-snatching or verbal threat—and doesn’t line up with what science tells us about violence."
FAIR's COUNTERSPIN podcast talks with Jackson, Miss. resident Makani Themba about the media's failures regarding the city's water crisis.
Join the Institute for Southern Studies (the publisher of OptOut member FACING SOUTH), UNC's Southern Historical Collection and North Carolina Collection, and the Center for the Study of the American South on Saturday, March 11 from 1-4pm at Wilson Library the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill or virtually to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Southern Exposure, the award-winning journal published 1973-2010 by the Institute for Southern Studies.
1:00 pm — Panel: Southern Exposure: Why We Did What We Did - An exploration of the birth of Southern Exposure and its roots in Southern movements.
2:30 pm — Panel: SE's Legacy: History, Writing, and Southern Movements Today - A look at the legacy of Southern Exposure and its lessons for today.
RSVP here if you are interested in attending in-person or virtually.
For Sunshine Week, HIGH COUNTRY NEWS will host a live virtual event about the power of open records laws and how you can join other HCN readers and engaged citizens everywhere in using these important tools to hold government bodies and agencies to account. Learn more and RSVP here.
The OptOut Media Foundation (EIN: 85-2348079) is a nonprofit charity with a mission to educate the public about current events and help sustain a diverse media ecosystem by promoting and assisting independent news outlets and, in doing so, advance democracy and social justice.
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