I started writing for this site a long time ago. It was within the first few months of its inception as a matter of fact. I was invited to this site from an ad on Craigslist. Does anyone else remember that thing? The ad asked would-be authors to come join a "revolution" in journalism in which the people decide what they want seen in their newspaper. It said things like writers will no longer be influenced by special interest newspapers and editors and would be allowed to express themselves as the true voice of the people. Needless to say I was hooked, and I quickly fell in love with the Broo.
I didn't mind that I wasn't being paid for my unprofessional scribblings, as it was simply amazing to me that I could write things here that thousands of people would actually read. Some of them people even liked! I chalked the lack of pay up to a pro-active learning experience as well as a place to build up a modest repertoire of published articles, which I could refer people to when I applied to actual paid gigs. I have even reaped some small successes in doing just that as a matter of fact and I feel I owe that almost solely to BrooWaha. So let me first just say "Thank You" to the editors of this wonderful site for helping me accomplish a dream of mine, and making me a published writer.
In addition I have to admit I got addicted to the comments sections as a place to enjoy a lively debate with fellow authors about a wide variety of subjects and opinions. Over the years I have battled with many different writers and fans all over my articles and in theirs as well. I find this form of debate although infuriating at times to be quite enjoyable and when the discussions were heated I was hooked on checking back here or at my email waiting for a response to my latest comment or retort to one aimed at me.
I am sure you know who you are out there when I say that although we may disagree on just about everything I have seriously enjoyed our wars of words. I recognize that not everyone out there is as progressive as I am and in fact my own brother is a highly successful politician in the Republican Party. So I welcome the debate as long as we both try to keep it intelligent and as respectful as possible.
That being said, I am seriously concerned to see advertising lately that is by no means balanced and politically fair, appearing both on my articles pages as well as on the front page headlines. I am seeing ads such as the two above for the right wing extremist Ann Coulter and an anti-union organization called The Right to Work Foundation asking for a protest of Obama's pro-union policies as well as a great many from insurance companies who obviously have a stake in the current healthcare debate.
I was more than a bit annoyed by these ads showing up on my articles and I voiced such a couple times in comments on the articles themselves. However, this all came to a head when I answered an ad here for a seemingly impartial poll agency called Newsmax asking, "what I thought of Obama's healthcare bill" or whether I "Liked Sara Palin". After answering the ads and filling out the poll, registering my email address with them in order to be "counted", I was bombarded by all these right wing emails from this organization. A little research soon showed me that this so-called impartial poll was anything but.
The company was founded by Christopher W. Ruddy and was, according to Wikipedia, "supported by a group of conservative investors, including the family of the late Central Intelligence Agency Director William J. Casey." Now I realize I can be a bit paranoid at times but I was seriously concerned about the fact that I answered and registered my opinions about certain things with a company funded by the CIA. That is especially worrisome considering the fact that I have levied some pretty harsh criticism at my former government here on this so called free and impartial citizen journalism newspaper. In more than a few of my articles namely "Interpret This" and my very first one "On Being Retarded" I levied some pretty strong accusations at the former administration's policies.
I am not afraid and stand confident about what I have said and placed in veritable stone here on the Internet. I am concerned, however, that organizations like Newsmax are advertising here and registering opinions voiced from this site. I am extremely concerned that this beautiful bastion of free speech is being monitored and even influenced by advertisers that have absolute interests, which are by no means free and/or impartial.
Now as far as Ms. Coulter is concerned let it be said that I find her face appearing in articles I wrote and encourage progressive talent agencies to look at, to be downright repugnant. I recognize that free speech requires that she must be allowed to advertise her hate mongering. However, I am simply wondering whether she has any place advertising on OUR free and impartial community forum? If she wants to write something here I say welcome. But she should not be able to advertise her corporate influenced and politically biased writing on our articles here, nor do I think someone opposite her opinions should either, I might add, although curiously so far there are none of them that I have seen.
I realize that the BrooWaha community has to earn a little ad revenue in order to function and prosper and even grow. However, aren't these ads directly antithetical to the very nature of Citizen Journalism? If this site was and indeed is covered with special interest advertising isn't some of the integrity of the words "citizen journalism" lost on someone who comes here for the first time exited at the prospect of a citizen run newspaper? Surely we citizens who, although we are being offered a beautiful forum for discussion, have also worked hard to create this discussion and should have a say in who is advertising on that forum.
Having been working as a community organiser I am well aware that a recent strategy of the corporate oligarchical power structure has been to coopt and dismantle this recent trend in citizens coming together as a voice of change and indeed very real power. We should not let them do so here by benignly moving in with fake polls and democratic looking corporate scams or one day this beautiful paper will simply become another member of the fallen, albeit, well intentioned media organizations.
Finally, I would like to add that the fact that this bite on the hand that is feeding me, has even appeared before your reading eyes, shows me that the hope for a free press is not entirely gone, at least in this wonderful newspaper.