When I received my acceptance to the Park School of Communication’s Journalism program at Ithaca College in Fall 2007, my definition of journalism included phrases like “objective reporting,” “two sides to every story,” “newspapers are far more serious than any other medium,” and “The New York Times is king!”

But in the past two years, I’ve learned that those phrases describe journalism at its least interesting, most rigid, most restricted, and most in need of an IV drip or an emergency defibrillator. That type of traditional reporting, which generally finds itself in bed with huge corporations whose own monetary interests trump Freedom of the Press any day, is dying. And with good reason: there are more effective, more interesting and more inventive ways to break news.

That’s what independent media proves on a daily basis. From the larger indy behemoths like The Huffington Post, National Review and Democracy Now! to the less-prominent but universally-acclaimed publications like Talking Points Memo and Mother Jones magazine, these are the thinkers that are beginning to break the most important stories, reach the larger, younger readerships and get people excited about journalism again. It’s a truer, more noble, less tainted form of reporting, writing and storytelling, and it’s growing.

This blog is called The Lone Ranger for two reasons. The obvious, of course, is that it will dissect the development of "independent media" - publications and art forms that are inherently badass in nature (hence the "Ranger" descriptor) that are not supported or influenced by corporate funds and decisions. To be "independent" as a producer of journalism, you must, as a rule, stand alone. The second reason? To be ironic, naturally. The name "independent media" is in and of itself a misrepresentation of the essence of the field. As proved by Talking Points Memo, The Huffington Post and non-corporate publications time and time again, in order to break the biggest stories and make the biggest impact, you need to pool your resources; everyone's an expert on something...and if building a better story means calling upon some of your readers' expertise to help you out, do it! In that respect, the most successful "independent" sources are communal, hodgepodged nodes of information. 

I’m no expert on independent media. I don’t pretend to be. But I hope that this semester in my Independent Media class I can learn a ton about yesterday’s corporate machines and journalistic failures, today’s independent media sources that are consistently improving on the tired old news reporting formula and tomorrow’s triumphs thanks to these emerging technologies, ideologies and ways of truly thinking outside the box. 

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