America Needs a Free Press, and the Free Press Needs Indy Media

Free Press
As the nation’s only feminist media company run by a mouthy black lesbian over 40 named Karen, we take some pleasure in knocking the mainstream media. Legacy newsrooms. Big Box media. Journalism outlets led overwhelmingly by straight, moneyed white men and owned, increasingly, by giant corporations for whom news is a commodity.
 
Many of us at Rebellious Magazine are refugees of that world, where we learned the craft of journalism and got to cover the topics we love but at the expense of being our whole selves: Black, Brown, immigrants, queer, poly, female-identified, gender non-conforming and non-binary, living with disabilities you can and can’t see, middle class, working class, poor, well-educated, self-taught and, uh huh, Rebellious.
 
We have little to no love for the newsroom cultures that made us feel marginalized and diminished, patronized and condescended to. 
 
What we do love? The right of those flawed but necessary media outlets to exist.The protections of the free press that are so important they made it into the very First Amendment.
 
What else do we love? Our right to hold those same media outlets accountable just as they hold the government accountable. We love and take seriously our right and responsibility to fill in the coverage gaps they leave behind.
 
The free press is essential to democracy, yes, and the media must hold the government accountable on behalf of all of us, not just their predominantly white readership and certainly not just their corporate advertisers. 
 
Legacy media newsrooms must commit to telling all of our stories with respect, and that will require hiring storytellers who look like and respect all of us. On this day when so many legacy newsrooms are defending who they are and what they do, we want to remind them that the battle they’re waging for sheer survival shouldn’t prevent them from fighting to become more representative of the communities they serve.
 
And we want to remind all of you that until – and even after – mainstream newsrooms achieve the goal of equitable coverage, independent alternatives are here with you and for you.
 
After all, mainstream media, none of us are free until all of us are free.
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Karen Hawkins is the Founder and Rebelle in Chief of Rebellious Magazine. She is a recovering mainstream media reporter and editor who wants to thank her former boss for naming the online magazine she's always wanted to start when he called her “Rebellious” for taking too many weekends off. When she isn't instigating a media Rebellion, she's thanking her lucky starlets she gets to do whatever she wants on weekends.