What on earth is going on? In the grip of a pandemic we need unbiased news more than ever where we can find the truth.

No PR spin, no advertising and no corporate media agenda – here are eleven sites that uphold the lost art of journalism in a time of pandemic.

As the world faced a crisis as serious as the COVID-19 pandemic, the last thing we need is
fake news a la Donald Trump, PR spin or post-truth politics. Unfortunately, we live in a world where the information that we digest cannot be relied upon; where the manipulation of news for political, corporate or personal agendas is rife; where journalists are vilified, threatened or silenced for exposing corruption, crimes and injustice. In the reporting of the pandemic, even sites that we intrinsically trust have been pulled up over misinformation. It may be an occupational hazard of such a fast-changing situation, and yet there are some independent news sources to whom we can turn for a better representation, with no agenda, of what is happening.

So how do we, as readers, get closer to the truth? While no reporting is entirely without bias, there are still, thankfully, some news outlets that work against the grain by undermining traditional media and attempting to reveal hidden truths.

In our opinion, these are some of the best independent news sources:

Tortoise

www.tortoisemedia.com


Founded in 2019 by James Harding, the former Times editor and BBC News Director, Tortoise is a membership-based title that specialises in what it calls ‘slow news’. In practice, this means that it publishes long-form articles by some of the best journalists writing today, offering deep explorations of social, political and scientific issues. One week’s content might explore the repercussions of the murder of the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, and another could look at gut microbiomes. With some excellent journalists on board (including former Spectator editor Matthew d’Ancona) and a sense of interaction with its readership, thanks to regular ‘ThinkIns’ which allow Tortoise members to discuss articles with their writers and editors, this looks as if it might be the true future of journalism, 21st-century style.

Air Mail

airmail.news


Graydon Carter’s Airmail has been landing in subscribers’ inboxes at precisely 6am every Saturday since July 2019, complete with its mid-flight vintage airliner logo and slogan announcing that it is intended to be read by the ‘world class traveller’. The ex-Vanity Fair editor describes it as ‘the weekend edition of a non-existent international daily’, and it offers up features that range from the millennial obsession with astrology to why Harry married Meghan; the rise and (supposed) fall of Farrow & Ball to cases of unexplained true crime. Created alongside Alessandra Stanley, a critic and reporter for The New York Times, subscribers can expect magazine-length articles that go out as a newsletter but can also be read via the website (much like yours truly), the breadth of which has been descried as ‘The Economist with attitude’ but which we find resembles nothing quite so much as… well, Vanity Fair. Not that we’re complaining. A great, varied read.

This Much I Know

www.instagram.com


Emily Sheffield – former deputy editor at Vogue, soon to be Editor of The Evening Standard and sister of Sam Cam – has just launched This Much I Know, an Instagram-based news start-up and app with backing from The Guardian and Founders Factory. There are quizzes – through its Insta feed you can discern ‘how Greta’ you are, for example – as well as news stories as diverse as the Canadian footballer Christine Sinclair breaking the record for scoring more international goals than any player ever, to why Hugh Grant thinks the UK is finished. It asks after its readers thoughts and seems genuinely interested in their answers, plus it makes acknowledgement of the fact that news can mean the hard-hitting, such as the latest on Coronavirus, and it can also legitimately mean coverage of the Oscars too. When Sheffield put out a job description for prospective journalists at the site, she wrote: ‘This is not a job for people who like a safe desk job. We are an experimental news start-up, focused on innovation, interaction and engagement. We are exploring futuristic ways to share the news and seek conversation on the issues that matter…. We are lo-fi and immediate. We ask questions of our audience all the time. This is a job that will require relentless curiosity, fearlessness and an entrepreneurial attitude.’ Hear hear.

AlterNet

www.alternet.org


Launched in 1998, AlterNet is a project of the non-profit Independent Media Institute, with a progressive liberal stance, aiming to inspire action and advocacy on the environment, human rights, civil liberties, social justice, media, health care issues and more by providing independent news stories, hard-hitting critiques of policies, investigative reports and expert analysis. The content tackles stereotypes, prejudice and inequality and turns the coin on contentious issues, offering insight and new perspectives on persistent social problems.

Democracy Now!

www.democracynow.org


An independent news source founded in 1996, Democracy Now! is entirely audience-supported, which means that its editorial independence is never compromised by corporate or government interests. Offering a unique and sometimes provocative perspective on global events, it brings attention to issues and perspectives rarely covered in the U.S corporate-sponsored media, and has garnered dozens of awards as a result. Watch out for its daily news hour on weekdays.

The Onion

www.theonion.com


The satirical newspaper parody publication The Onion was founded in 1988. Since its move online in the late 1990s it has become very popular. The Onion takes reality and twists it just enough to reveal the absurdity within the mainstream media. It's clever, extremely funny and hyper-aware, playing on the way the news has become another branch of the entertainment industry.

The Real News Network (TRNN)

therealnews.com


No advertising. No government funding. No corporate dollars. Founded in 2007 by the Canadian journalist and filmmaker, Paul Jay, TRNN is a television news and documentary network that focuses on facts and is funded by donations from viewers. Working in opposition to the mainstream media, it gives fresh perspective on social and economic issues (with special focus on the environment) at grass roots level, while acknowledging that it too is affected by bias.

truthdig

www.truthdig.com


Founded in 2003 by entrepreneur Zuade Kaufman and journalist Robert Sheer, Truthdig is a left-leaning web magazine that explores major ‘digs’, led by authorities in their fields, who conduct original reporting and commentary on contemporary, often controversial topics, such as religion, climate change and immigration to name a few.

Off Guardian

off-guardian.org


Created by former Guardian journalists who became disillusioned by “the increasingly distorted and tendentious news reporting on Libya, the proxy-war in Syria, and the Ukraine Crisis,” Off Guardian believes “in a true free press that (consistently) speaks truth to power” and acts to remind mainstream media (especially The Guardian) of this duty.

This Can’t Be Happening

www.thiscantbehappening.net


Another site, set up by journalists, with the goal of telling it like it is. This Can’t Be Happening is not backed up by corporate advertising or government grants, but by its readers and reports and writes all the pieces featured itself. From exposing American spies to questioning why there is one rule for foreign consulates in the US and another for US consulates abroad, This Can’t Be Happening questions the assumed – it’s what journalist used to do as a matter of course.

Media Lens

www.medialens.org


Launched in 2001 by David Edwards and David Cromwell, Media Lens aims to challenge the way in which it sees news and commentary being ‘filtered’ by the media’s profit-orientation and by dependence on advertisers, parent companies, wealthy owners and official news sources.

More sites that support the journalistic cause


Consortium News
Human Rights Watch
On Our Radar
21st Century Wire
Wide Shut
Axis of Logic
Antiwar.com
Truth Out

Updated by Nancy Alsop
June 2020

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