Monday, May 16, 2005

BuzzFlash and the original content they offer

We're going to note BuzzFlash again because Cindy's question last week really makes me concerned that people may not realize BuzzFlash not only provides links to important stories from a variety of publications (magazines, journals, newspapers, blogs, etc.), but that they also originate content as well. With the New York Times' decision to go to a for pay site this coming September, I want to be sure that members are aware of what BuzzFlash has to offer as a web site. (And note, as we did in another entry a few months back, which I don't have time to hunt down, the Washington Post has no plans currently to go to a for pay site. They're eager to see if, as with Wall St. Journal, the move hurts the Times in terms of visibility. Should that happen, they are willing to go all out to expand their reach. They won't be peeling off Times readers, they'll be providing safe harbor.)

Currently, if you visited BuzzFlash, you'd find the following items that are original content (and probably more than this, I'm sure I'll miss something).

Let's start with Sibel Edmonds' "Gagged, But Not Dead:"

The Appeal Court’s decision on Sibel Edmonds' Case is out: 'Case Dismissed;' no opinion cited; no reason provided. The Court's decision, issued on Friday, May 6, has generated a string of obituaries; "another major blow, maybe the last one, to Sibel Edmonds, a woman who has faced an unprecedented level of government secrecy, gag orders, and classification." Well, dear friends and supporters, Sibel Edmonds may be gagged, but she's not dead.
On October 18, 2002; three months after I filed my suit against the Department of Justice for unlawful termination of my employment caused by my reporting criminal activities committed by government officials and employees, John Ashcroft, the then Attorney General, invoked a rarely invoked privilege, the State Secrets Privilege. According to Ashcroft, everything involving my case and my allegations were considered state secrets, and whether or not I was right in my allegations, the United States District Court had to dismiss my entire case without any questions, hearings or oral argument; period. According to Ashcroft, the court had to grant his order and dismiss the entire case with no hearings solely based on the fact that he, Ashcroft, said so. After all, our government knew best. As of that day, my case came to be gagged; but I continued on.

From their editorial "Without Media Reform, the Bush Thugs Will Stay in Power. It's That Simple:"

Suppose the Mafia could basically dictate what "news" is on television, radio and in most mainstream newspapers. Suppose the Mafia could even invent stories and create factoids by following the policy that if you repeat a lie five times in the media, it becomes the truth.
Suppose that this has actually happened with the Bush Administration, because it has.
And make no mistake about it, we are dealing with a One-Party government that believes that creating an impression of unbeatable, omnipotent, brutal power is the way to crush the opposition. The rule of law doesn't matter; the Constitution doesn't matter; democracy doesn't matter. In fact democracy is an inconvenient obstacle to dictatorial one-party rule that is accountable to no one but the party leader.
Sounds a bit like a mixture of the old Soviet Union and Franco's Spain.
Well, it is.

A media alert, "The Media Reform Conference, New Media and What You Can Do:"

Some BuzzFlash staffers attended this past weekend's sold-out media reform conference in St. Louis with more than 2200 other people. The energy and commitment to building a pro-democracy media was palpable. Everyone there, to quote Howard Beale in the classic film "Network," was mad as Hell and was not going to take it anymore.
But to get beyond the old media, a little something called money is needed. You know the routine by now: BuzzFlash accepts no advertising in order to ensure that we are only accountable to our readers, not to shareholders and certainly not to the illegitimate Bushevik regime.
We're partisan, if partisan means standing up for the Constitution, an accountable government and an inclusive society. We're partisan, if partisan means that we believe the American government doesn't belong to one radical, extremist sect within the population -- a sect that wants to impose its violent vision and morality upon Americans who cherish their personal liberties and freedom.

They've reposted a link to their 2003 interview with Bill Moyers (and they have some great interviews in their archives):

BUZZFLASH: Are you saying the bottom line corporate culture of large media conglomerates such as the Tribune Company, Time Warner, New York Times Company, Clear Channel or Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp affects the perspectives of their individual media outlets -- as well as the reporting of political and governmental news in particular?
MOYERS: Sure. Rupert Murdoch is in a category by himself -- overtly political. He makes no bones about it. Sure, he wants NewsCorp to turn big profit, as it does. But he'll take losses on the New York Post and subsidize The Weekly Standard to advance his political agenda, which, of course, is ultimately aimed at the kind of government favoritism that boosts his corporate earning. I'm sure you know he's lobbying hard right now for FCC approval of his purchase of DirectTV, which will give him a network of satellite systems spanning Europe, Asia, and Latin America. He's starting all-news networks in Italy and India, and he's so desperate to please the Chinese that he dropped the BBC from his satellite operation in China just to please the communist leaders there who didn't like the coverage.
Few journalists have the guts to take on Murdoch the way columnist Richard Cohen did. He described Murdoch's properties -- including his Fox News Channel -- for what they are: "blatantly political, hardly confining Murdoch's conservative political ideology to editorials or commentary but infusing it into the news coverage itself."
That's the political side of it. Then there's the commercial side. Look, the founders of our government, the fellows who gave us the First Amendment, didn't count on the rise of these megamedia conglomerates. They didn't count on huge private corporations that would own not only the means of journalism but vast swaths of the territory that journalism is supposed to cover. When you get a handful of conglomerates owning more and more of our news outlets, you're not going to find them covering the intersection where their power meets political power.
The fact is that big money and big business, corporations and commerce, are the undisputed overlords of politics and government today. Barry Diller came on my PBS program and talked about what can happen when the media and political elites gang up on the public. Diller says we have a media oligopoly. Kevin Phillips says we have a political oligarchy. Talk about a marriage made in hell! Listen, these guys are reshaping our news environment. They're down in Washington wining and dining the powers-that-be insisting that any restriction on their ability to own media properties is a violation of their corporate First Amendment rights. They want to be the gatekeepers not only over what we see on television and hear on the radio but how we travel online.
Journalists feel squeezed -- those who simply believe we are here to practice our craft as if society needs what we do and expects us to do it as honorably as possible. There's another study around here somewhere done by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and The Columbia Journalism Review. More than a quarter of journalists polled said they had avoided pursuing some important stories that might conflict with the financial interests of their news organizations or advertisers.

Will Durst, whom many know from The Progressive, is providing original content for BuzzFlash.
His latest is "Frequently Asked Questions About the President's Social Security Reform." No excerpt provided because I always feel like I'm blowing a joke when I pull quote, that somehow I've destroyed the set up someone has carefully constructed. It's worth reading and don't take my lack of pull quote to imply anything other than a respect for the hard work involved in making people laugh.

Shirley Smith has another contribution and it's entitled "'Justice' by Design

Tom DeLay openly threatens judges that didn't agree with him in the Schiavo case, while at the same time, in his own town of Houston, a baby under six months old was put to death because of a Texas law.
Then we heard of "Justice Sunday," that turned out to be more of a Judgment Day than a day of justice, and then we hear of a minister kicking out the members of his church who voted Democratic.
This week, a federal appeals court, with a unanimous vote, decided that VP Dick Cheney, whose business is to work for the American people, rules in Cheney's favor regarding his secret energy meetings. According to these judges, he can keep doing taxpayers' business in secret. No complaints from the GOP about that justice.

Another contributor is Barbara with her "Barbara's Daily BuzzFlash Minute:"

In all the years have you ever seen or heard an administration who arrogantly proclaimed the establishment of an "Office of Disinformation," designed entirely for the purpose of "selling" fabrications, other than the Nazis? Aided and abetted by Mainstream media, America is becoming just another aggressive nation intent on conquering the world, and it all begins with producing propaganda, another strategy learned from that "other" fascist regime. Knowing what Karen Hughes' image right here in the United States does for public diplomacy, exactly what is it that she will project as undersecretary of State at the U.N., on the world? Obviously Hughes has been selected to be the 21st Century's equivalent of Josef Goebbels!

Tony Peyser is another BuzzFlash contributor and he offers both an editorial cartoon currently and a "Verse-Case Scenario."

We noted the BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week (Jeff West) Saturday and that's another example of their original content.

Thom Hartmann does book reviews for BuzzFlash, this month it's Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man:

Some people think that FDR invented the progressive income tax when he raised income tax rates on the super-rich to 90 percent. Some believe that LBJ invented anti-poverty programs when he more than cut in half severe poverty in the US by introducing Medicare, housing assistance, and food-stamp programs in the 1960s. Some believe that Jack Kennedy was the first president to seriously talk about international disarmament, a conversation that Richard Nixon carried on in pushing through and getting ratified the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty so recently discarded by George Bush Jr. Some believe that Teddy Roosevelt - the Republican Roosevelt - was the first to seriously discuss the "living wage," or ways that corporate "maximum wage" wink-and-nod agreements could be broken up. Some believe the inheritance tax to prevent family empires from taking over our nation was the idea of Woodrow Wilson, or that FDR was the first to think up old-age pensions as part of a social safety net known today as Social Security.

They have a new BuzzFlash interview with documentary film maker Matt Kohn:

BuzzFlash: What are the most important things that people need to know about our voting system and what's wrong with it?
Matt Kohn: People need to know that there are two forces which are diametrically opposed to each other creating the system we have. One is that barely 50% of Americans participate in the Presidential election process every four years. What they don't realize, and what the election in 2000 brought out, is that not all election systems are the same. That's what people don't understand. There's also a political difference between the two parties about how to solve the problems of how to count the votes and also how to stop people who shouldn't be voting from voting. The Republicans generally believe that states should have absolute control over the process. Now more people are beginning to believe that there should be a national standard, which is generally supported by Democrats. If you ask people, "Should there be a direct popular vote for President?" 72% say there should be a direct election for the President of the United States. To me, that means the biggest problem with the electoral system we have now is in its initial conception of an Electoral College. That gets in the way of votes actually being counted for the candidate of their choice in the state in which they reside.

They have Steven C. Day's The Last Chance Democracy Cafe which is currently on "episode 34" but I see it as an ongoing novel with posted chapters or installments. (No excerpt because you need to start from the first to really appreciate it -- my opinion.)

Now I'm sure I've missed something. (And my apologies for that.) Where pull quotes exist, they are excerpts so use the links to read in full. But Cindy e-mailed last week thinking BuzzFlash was just a site with links to articles from newspapers. It does provide those links, but it provides a great deal more. And it provides original content.

Back on January 8th (see previous entry) I'd noted that if the Times became a pay site (and I'd add if other papers followed the lead -- which often hapens with the Times) that I didn't think it would effect BuzzFlash.

Hopefully the original content noted above explains to Cindy and anyone else who wondered that BuzzFlash does provide more than links to newspaper articles.

And as I noted in the last entry, BuzzFlash has some additions and changes planned. From "BuzzFlash is Growing:"

If you see a few minor changes or glitches in BuzzFlash, that's because we are growing.
We have increased our server capacity and put in a new coding "platform" -- among other improvements -- that will allow us to move to the next level of media expansion.
In the meantime, you may see some "glitches" as we work to modify our new "backend" system.
This is all good news.
Because we are now positioned to serve more readers and to expand our Internet presence, including new affiliated sites like
There is much more to come. is not sitting around waiting for the media to change; we are changing the media.
And all due to our readers, because our main site doesn't accept advertising; we don't charge a subscription; and our e-mail alerts are free
[LINK]. is on the move, thanks to you.
We're the site where our readers ARE the celebrities.
[LINK] The modern corporate media -- one of our recent interviewees told us -- is accountable first to its shareholders, second to the White House and Congress, and third to its viewers and readers.
At, we are ONLY accountable to our readers.
That's quite a difference.
And now, our site, with more than 5 million readers each month last October and November is poised to extend its influence, accountable only to you.
Thanks for making our pro-democracy news and commentary site into the powerhouse it is today -- and it's only the beginning.
PLEASE NOTE: If you use syndicated headlines on your site, you will need to change the code as of May 7th. See
[LINK] You can also install, for the first time, syndicated headlines using this code.

That's posted in full because it's an announcement and on the day we learn that, as suspected, the Times will become a for pay site, I want to be sure that everyone realizes the Times isn't the only game online.

And again, when I can grab some time to figure out where to put the source code (and other things) we will be adding BuzzFlash headlines to this site.

In the meantime, if you have some money to spend (if you don't that's fine), check out the BuzzFlash premiums. You can also check them out if you're just curious. The premiums are items that, with your purchase, allow BuzzFlash to continue being an independent voice. They don't accept advertisement. No one influences their content. And, unlike the New York Times, they have no intention to become a for-pay site. They are free to any and all. And they maintain that freedom through donations and purchases of premiums from their readers.

Again, that's not a guilt trip. If you don't have the money, don't worry about it. But if you do or if you're just curious about what sort of premiums BuzzFlash offers, feel free to check it out.

And let me note, what I almost forgot, that letters to BuzzFlash are jam packed with information and observation and can be found in the BuzzFlash Mailbag.

The e-mail address for this site is