The Explosion of Online Video: Indy Media Directory Pt. 2
Welcome to Part 2 of this always-in-motion directory of independent political journalism and programming (Part 1 is here). This is an especially fun part of the directory because it’s where I’ll be not only cataloging some traditional video-based journalism but also a variety of political commentary and analysis that’s more risky, digitally native and scruffy than traditional written or broadcast journalism.
One of the troubles with standard journalistic styles, both print and broadcast, is that they often find journalists falling into the habit of delivering litanies of facts that are overwhelming for readers to absorb and presenting those facts in cadences that are antiseptic and somewhat alienating. Many online video programs and radio shows/podcasts, however, lean more towards the conversational, the spontaneous and the organic. This can be an enormously engaging way to keep up with politics, as the rapid audience growth of so many online video channels attests.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
The More Established Players in online video podcasting
Founded by veteran journalist Paul Jay in 2007 and based in Baltimore and Montreal, the Real News is a diversely staffed progressive left media outlet that delivers most of its reporting and analysis via online video (with accompanying mp3 downloads). It’s a great place to go for U.S. news and political commentary, geopolitical analysis and coverage of Baltimore-specific issues. Excellent outlet, their recent footsy-playing with Russiagate narratives — and loss of ass-kicker Aaron Mate — notwithstanding.
Started in the mid-90s by investigative journalist and broadcaster Amy Goodman as a Pacifica network radio show, Democracy Now! has become one of the longest running progressive radio, online video and podcast programs out there. While in recent years the program has made some unfortunate shifts towards establishment thinking, particularly as regards Russiagate and the U.S. destabilization of Syria, Amy and her cohorts — veteran investigative reporter and former 60s radical Juan Gonzalez, journalist Narmine Sheikh and others — continue to do some very strong in-depth reporting about national and global issues. Keep it in rotation, but pay close attention to who their guests are and how they frame the issues.
Available since 2008 and run by longtime broadcaster and journalist Laura Flanders, this is a regular online video and podcast series where Laura focuses on in-depth interviews with activists, entrepreneurs, scholars and other political thinkers. A skilled interviewer and political progressive, Flanders and her excellent guests are well worth keeping up with.
A fascinating outlet for Japan-based American researcher and libertarian-leaning thinker James Corbett, the Corbett Report has been offering long and short-form video and podcast content since 2007 (with extra written articles for paid subscribers). Corbett’s strength is investigating the operations of the deep state, the world’s elite billionaire class and other areas of opacity that some may consider “conspiracy” territory. Incisive, skeptical and fact-driven, Corbett has created a variety of popular online video documentary series such as “How Big Oil Conquered the World” and “Why Big Oil Conquered the World”. His stuff is compelling. You can also get Corbett’s videos on his YouTube channel. Check it out.
Since it’s funded by a group of leftist Latin American and Caribbean governments, TeleSUR is only partially independent, but don’t be deterred. Since 2005, the site has offered well-produced and journalistically professional video programming on South/Central America and the rest of the world from a people-powered perspective. Written articles on current events are in the mix as well. Excellent site that, until recently, was a home for Abby Martin’s well-regarded Empire Files program.
I place Luke Rudkowski’s WeAreChange in the “established” section because he’s been doing the indy citizen journalist thing longer than most, which is part of the reason he has over 500,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel. But truly, he’s earned it. Aggressively non-partisan, though likely libertarian leaning, Rudkowski and colleague Jason Bermus focus more time on international events (Yellow Vest movement, for instance), U.S. foreign policy and the machinations of the deep state (especially around issues of media censorship) than many other indy journalists and that’s to their credit. Unafraid to talk to activists on the fringes to get at important issues, WeAreChange has become a mainstay of Internet indy media.
Some channels operate so far outside the box that they get labeled as purveyors of conspiracy theory. Once a channel gains that label, you should get suspicious (especially when it has over 500K subscribers) and check it out for your self. For nearly nine years, Stormclouds Gathering has been a vehicle for the global political analysis of anarchist intellectual and eco-village builder Aaron Hawkins. In video after video, he offers startling, cogent and detailed analysis of the economic, political and military game of thrones being played by world powers, particularly the U.S. This is vanguard stuff worth making up your own mind about.
The Newer(ish) Folks in online video podcasting
Created by indy reporter Abby Martin (former host of RT’s Breaking the Set, which is well worth going back to) and produced by journalist and former military service-member Mike Prysner, The Empire Files is a video and podcast series focuses in two main areas: One, on-the-ground reporting in parts of the world the American corporate media fears to tread and refuses to cover honestly (Venezuela and Gaza, for example). Two, in-depth interviews with activists, scholars, historians and politicians rarely seen in the mainstream press. Delivered from a progressive, human rights perspective, this is simply one of the best political video programs on the Internet. Newly independent due to U.S. sanctions that impacted its former home at TeleSUR English. Must-watch.
Who would have anticipated that a YouTube show by a nightclub comedian would have such an impact on American political discourse? Jimmy Dore, with his co-hosts, politically savvy comedian Ron Placone and teacher Stef Zemarano (also his wife), hilariously sends up political hypocrisy and craven politicians, call out lies and distortions from the U.S. corporate press (Russia, Russia, Russia), reports on Net Neutrality, delves into media censorship, covers current events at surprising levels of depth, and interviews insurgent politicians, activists and thinkers. Off the cuff, organic, funny, outraged, profane, personal and amazingly authentic, this show is a non-partisan progressive’s tonic to counter the toxicity of politics in the U.S. today. Learn while laughing your ass off.
Also known as The Tim Black Show, this is one of progressive YouTube’s most popular programs. Host Tim Black enjoys using some age-old styles inherited from talk radio (silly sound effects and other tropes), which can be an acquired taste for some viewers. Aesthetics aside, Tim does a good job of covering domestic U.S. politics and pulls name interviewees, from politicians to prominent Indy journalists and activists. A great place to start on progressive political YouTube.
This website is a platform for the increasingly popular Marxian economist and professor Richard Wolff, who is an advocate for a bottom-up form of socialism characterized by worker-owned and operated cooperative enterprises. It houses his weekly video podcast series Economic Update, in which Wolff spends 30 minutes reviewing important economic headlines or explaining a particular political/economic topic, and then pivots to another 30 minutes spent with a guest or a piece of in-depth analysis. The show is available on the site, on YouTube, in its own app and as a straight podcast. If you want to get a better understanding of capitalism, socialism and other economic systems and their impact on what’s happening politically, Wolff is someone worth spending time with. He explains issues simply, concretely and with vast economic and historical knowledge.
Wolff has quickly incorporated other thinkers into the site, including progressive therapist and veteran feminist Dr. Harriet Fraad, who hosts her own video series and podcast called “Capitalism Hits Home”. In it, she offers fascinating insights on how the system of capitalism affects gender roles, family life, violence, suicide and more.
Near-legendary British geographer and Marxist scholar David Harvey now has his own podcast on Democracy at Work. One of the best explainers of Marxist theory on the planet, Harvey’s podcast is a great primer for his vast catalogue of books.
A YouTube program run by longtime independent broadcast journalist and Los Angeles-based progressive activist Lauren Steiner, the Robust Opposition finds Steiner, a party politics and policy wonk in the best tradition, holding forth on California, domestic U.S. politics, political strategy and other topics. She also interviews a variety of guests, including citizen journalists, activists, and politicians (when they dare). If you want to understand the details of an issue and how to do something about it, Lauren’s your ace.
This is a vehicle for the news coverage and political thinking of Richmond, VA-based former software engineer and self-taught citizen journalist Jamarl Thomas. Operating one of the most personal and authentic YouTube channels around today, Thomas covers a variety of domestic political issues, corporate media criticism, presidential politics, world events (Brexit in particular) and offers refreshing non-partisan, evidence-driven, progressive takes on the news of the day. Watch his show and you’ll feel like you know him — and find it hard not to love him.
In the Now & Soap Box
Explicitly social media-driven, Soap Box and In the Now are progressive video outlets that create MTV-style short-form videos on investigative political topics and current events that are made to be shared and go viral. Distributing most of their content via Facebook (which recently suspended, then reinstated their pages), Twitter and YouTube, they’ve become an especially powerful outlet for former Intercept and Electronic Intifada writer/producer Rania Khalek. The style is rapid-fire and a little snarky, which can take some getting used to, but Khalek is a strong writer, well-informed researcher and engaging presenter. Worth joining Twitter for.
Comedians, because they spend so much of their time calling bullshit on people (and themselves) in creative ways, often dovetail interestingly with politics. Joe Rogan is an equal opportunity political actor and uses his YouTube video podcast to interview practically anyone, from corporate journalists to psychedelic spiritualists to UFO freaks to insurgent politicians like Tulsi Gabbard and even the CEO of Twitter. Sometimes he’s incisive and sometimes he’s lackadaisical, but he’s always funny and has a tendency to catch his guests off guard with his down-to-earth persona. Simply fun.
An informal, brainy and entertaining channel featuring political philosopher, University of Georgia professor and opponent of white supremacy Irami Osei-Frimpong, The Funky Academic thrills in using modes of philosophical inquiry to break down a wide array of American racial and political issues. Very engaging program.
Created by former Young Turks correspondent Jordan Chariton and his business partner/researcher Jenn Dize, Status Coup is a U.S. political commentary and on-the-ground investigative reporting YouTube channel. Early in its development but already making an impact, Chariton is a very watchable on-air presence and focuses his work on corporate and government injustice towards workers and marginalized groups. He’s done major exposes on the Flint water crisis, Standing Rock and, most recently, layoffs at General Motors. He also spends time analyzing foreign policy and congressional/presidential politics, often interviewing up and coming journalists like Mike Figueredo of the Humanist Report and Rania Khalek of In the Now. One to watch.
A popular U.S.-focused progressive political YouTube channel run by citizen journalist Mike Figueredo, the Humanist Report largely focuses on the Washington political circus and criticism of the mainstream media, as well as detailed research on political candidates and their positions and behavior over time. If you want to follow the U.S. political system from an informed and detailed perspective, you could do worse than ride with Mike.
Miami-based independent journalist, progressive campaigner and military veteran Niko House is the predominant force behind the MCSC Network. Niko focuses on U.S. foreign policy, Washington politics, and calling out hypocritical, mendacious politicians and corporate media. One of the originators of the DNC fraud lawsuit, he’s also close with independent congressional candidate Tim Canova, so has spent considerable time covering election fraud in Florida and nationally. Niko’s style is highly personal and full of flavor, so he’s another progressive indy journalist you might feel like you know. Important channel.
Not unlike Jamarl Thomas and Ron Placone, Gerard Haye analyzes issues in a personal an informal way while responding to his viewers in real time. Haye is a nonpartisan peace-oriented thinker, organic farmer and left-libertarian critic of the U.S. political system. He will be well known to viewers of Claudia Stauber’s Cabin Talk and The Sane Progressive, as he’s collaborated with them off and on for a few years. Very interesting thinker.
The namesake of this YouTube channel is Angie, a Nigerian-British anti-capitalist thinker and activist. Sometimes with a partner or interviewee, sometimes on her own, Angie explores everything from gender and racial issues to political history to Paganism to popular culture to how political theory operates in practice. This is a radical channel with a lot of integrity and smart analysis. Well worth your time.
An increasingly popular YouTube program featuring one of the founders of Justice Democrats, Kyle Kulinski, Secular Talk focuses most of its energy commenting on and analyzing domestic U.S. politics and politicians. This is a good place to go if you’re interested in keeping up with the latest news from Washington and electoral issues from a libertarian-left progressive perspective. Good channel.
Popular YouTube show notable for analysis of far-right white supremacist groups and in-depth perspectives on American history, political strategy, and black identity. Also come here to find interviews with leading dissidents such as Cynthia McKinney. Long-form videos can also be accessed at The Black Channel. Provocative in the best way.
Eleanor Goldfield may be known to viewers as a frequent guest on Lee Camp’s ‘Redacted Tonight’ political TV show on RT. She also co-hosts the ‘Common Censored’ podcast with Camp and runs her own video news and commentary show ‘Act Out’, which can be found on YouTube, Free Speech TV, Occupy.com and other sites. Goldfield’s show is organized a bit like MTV news, with a Kurt Loder-style anchor desk, a fair amount of sarcasm, video clips, and a lot of information about U.S. foreign policy, activism, labor actions and more. Goldfield’s research is solid and her vantage point is always bottom-up. Her writing as a freelance journalist is also excellent.
RJ Eskow, former lead writer for the Bernie Sanders campaign and advisor to progressive political organizations such as Social Security Works, runs this excellent YouTube channel. Here, the irreverent Eskow does commentary on U.S. domestic politics and foreign policy and interviews an array of economists, activists and well-known independent journalists. RJ, a rarity as a left wing Baby Boomer on YT, is extremely well informed, knows his history and is a very good interviewer. Highly recommended.
This is a YouTube channel and podcast that’s largely dedicated to one-on-one interviews with leading intellectuals, authors, indy journalists, economists and entrepreneurs. The interviewer (not sure of their identity) is focused and informed, getting great material out of his subjects. Come here for in-depth and informal chats with everyone from Noam Chomsky and Marxian economist Richard Wolff to the founder of Minds.com. Informative program.
A hugely popular YouTube channel (450K subscribers) that still seems to operate under the radar, Truthstream Media specializes in narrated documentaries that incorporate a lot of archived film and video footage from post-WWII America. Spouses (and, full disclosure, former Infowars employees from the program’s early days) Aaron and Melissa Dykes are, similar to James Corbett, obsessed with the history of the global elite’s attempts to organize and control society. The couple does extensive historical research into such topics as propaganda, eugenics, philanthropic foundations, Bilderberg, the CIA, tech companies, artificial intelligence, and more. Some of their stuff is merely entertaining conspiracy speculation, but the rest is disturbing, well researched and compellingly assembled investigative journalism. Do not write these two off. Much of the time, they’re onto something. Check out their documentary The Minds of Men.
Hosted by citizen journalists Savage Joy and Steve Grumbine, Real Progressives might be characterized as a DemEnter-oriented channel. Joy and Grumbine spend their time interviewing activists, indy journalists and progressive Democratic candidates. Grumbine is also an acolyte of Modern Monetary Theory, so focuses on that a fair amount of time as well. Some good stuff here.
Daily Clout is an interesting animal. Conceived as an online network of citizens who pore through potential and impending legislation in order to act as watchdogs for injustice, the site also performs the function as citizen educator on issues that tend to fly under the radar. This education function is often filled by Daily Clout’s CEO, the bestselling progressive feminist author Naomi Wolf. Wolf does this through her filmed speaking engagements and with short video clips she creates for the Daily Clout site and YouTube channel. In these clips, she offers compelling critiques of political process, proposed legislation and taboo subjects like the police state, false flag propaganda and geo-engineering. Wolf is simply one of the most earnest, unafraid and engaging scholar/activists on the left.
Novara Media is the YouTube channel of the UK-based news and analysis website of the same name. The channel and website have amassed a considerable audience in a relatively short period of time. Frequent host, editor/writer Ash Sarkar (who is ridiculously watchable) and one of the site’s key founders, journalist Aaron Bastani, have begun appearing regularly on British TV news programs. Their videos are pithy, unabashedly left wing, amusing and confrontational all at the same time. Well worth regular viewing, especially for digging into contentious UK politics.
In just a few months of existence, this new channel, hosted by citizen journalist Tom Barry, has already garnered ore than 5K subscribers. Focused squarely on progressive U.S. politics and critiques of neoliberalism and political corruption, Tom comes off as a credible and informed commentator on the issues of the day. Worth checking out.
Suzi3D is the YouTube channel of investigative journalist-in-exile Suzy Dawson. The channel offers a home to the popular #Unity4J and #Wikibees vigils in support of Julian Assange. It also houses illuminating video discussions between Suzy and Disobedient Media editor in chief Elizabeth Lea Vos called #DecipherYou, in which the duo painstakingly walk through key documents revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Suzy has scaled back her video appearances, so this account may lie dormant for a while, but the stuff that remains here has gold in it.
Run by Maine-based citizen journalist Holly Seeliger, Zoon Politicon is a progressive non-partisan channel that focuses on U.S. politics, current events, the surveillance state, the environment and the economy, among other topics. Seeliger is a good presenter and sometimes collaborates with other non-partisan commentators such as Claudia Stauber of Cabin Talk and Gerard Kenyatte Haye. Check her out.
Kevork Almassian is a Syrian citizen journalist based in Germany. As the proxy war being waged in Syria began getting more and more gnarly, his channel Syriana Analysis, became one of only a few outlets online where English-language viewers could get detailed information about Syria from a Syrian perspective. Very informative.
Using one YouTube channel as a base of operations for multiple programs, the non-partisan Ghion Journal currently has three things going on for viewers.
1. SeekTruth TV, in which Ghion co-founder Teodrose Fikre shares his unique perspective on major issues and news of the day, and also interviews a selection of indy journalists, activists, scholars, office seekers and citizens.
2. Writers Roundup, in which multiple Ghion Journal writers discuss either a topic from one of the week’s flagship articles or a significant current event.
3. Heal Talk, in which site co-founder Betty Beke interviews a variety of individuals who have embarked on personal journeys of discovery, struggle, growth and healing.
This channel is still getting its sea legs, but it’s intelligent, informed and from the heart. Well worth your time.
For a view into Indian politics and beyond, Sham Sharma is a great option. Lately, he’s also been tackling issues related to media attacks against Tulsi Gabbard and sets the record straight about her relationship with Prime Minister Modi and the BJP Party. Illuminating material, worth your time.
Entertaining YouTube show and radio program hosted by Tariq Nasheed. In it, he gets irreverent about black political leaders, systemic racism, popular culture, racial history and much more. This program is a lot of fun. You never know what Tariq is going to hold forth about next — and that’s part of the appeal.
Kim Iversen is a successful radio personality on the mainstream FM dial, but she also hosts a YouTube program where she does progressive-minded commentary on U.S. politics and political campaigns. Given all her years in radio, she’s a polished presenter and a well-informed political analyst. Give her show a shot and you’ll likely be rewarded.
Cary Wedler takes time out from her duties as the main editor of The Anti Media to create first-person style videos for her own YouTube channel. Not unlike In the Now, Wedler’s videos are fast-paced, witty and designed to share via social media. She covers current political events, media censorship, the partisan divide and many other issues. Check in from time to time for entertaining progressive viewpoints.
Well-known by longtime Jimmy Dore viewers for his frequent guest-spots on that program, comedian Graham Elwood, dubbing himself The Political Vigilante, uses YouTube to criticize the corporate media, discuss Washington politics, get real about our current crop of politicians and hold forth on key issues of the day. Elwood is earnest and funny, a fellow citizen trying to figure it all out — just like the rest of us.
Well-liked comedian and Jimmy Dore show regular Ron Placone boasts one of the most informal voices on political YouTube with his program Get Your News on with Ron. Don’t come here looking for polished presentations. Placone will use his time to read and comment on articles, discuss current events from a progressive perspective, dialogue with viewers in real time and, of course, crack jokes. Ron’s your buddy. Check him out.
This section of video programs needs a preamble because they are not exactly independent media. Each of them air on online and regular cable TV channel RT (formerly Russia Today), which is funded, though not operated, by the Russian government. As such, if you’re looking for truthful news and analysis of Russian politics there’s no reason you’ll find it here. However, RT, for its own selfish reasons related to geopolitical maneuvering, has given platforms to prominent British and American non-partisan, progressive journalists and comedians — with no editorial interference. While their motives aren’t pure, RT is virtually the only cable TV channel in the U.S. that gives an iota of room for such voices to speak. I think we’re all better for it, so I include some of these programs in this directory.
This is an interview program hosted by famed journalist and author Chris Hedges, arguably one of the U.S.’s most important living left-wing intellectuals. In it, Hedges speaks with a wide array of authors, journalists, activists, scholars, economists and unionists. It’s only a half-hour long, which always feels like too little, but it’s near-essential viewing on a weekly basis.
This heartbreakingly funny program is hosted by the political comedian Lee Camp. Camp combines his wit, his research, and his video editing crew to create exceptionally sarcastic and educational monologues about U.S. and world politics, media censorship, current events, the global game of thrones and much more. He then uses the second half of the program to interview a staggering array of progressive guests. It hardly gets any better. In a just world, he’d be on network television. Watch it.
Hosted by former Labour member of British Parliament George Galloway, Sputnik Orbiting the World is a program that finds Galloway, a true peacenik and internationalist, digging into UK and world politics with pointed commentary and analysis. Worth watching for his rough Scottish brogue alone.
I could not wrap up this first iteration of this Indy media directory for online video without mentioning Debbie Lusignan, aka The Sane Progressive. From 2015 or so until mid-2018, Debbie’s epic rants and extraordinary political evolution from lefty Sanders Democrat to something of a deep state-dissecting, left-libertarian leaning, enviro-anarchist were, for some galvanizing and, for others, upsetting and distasteful. For those with whom Debbie resonated (I use the past tense because she deleted all of her social media channels several months ago), her journey was exhilarating, her skepticism thought provoking, and her dogged ability to research into dark corners both inspiring and terrifying.
At one point, Debbie wielded genuine influence across the political spectrum, boasting 60K subscribers on YouTube, and as many if not more followers on Facebook and Twitter. Since she made the decision to leave the political web behind, the best way to find her stuff is to search for ‘Sane Progressive’ on YouTube, new video platform Bitchute, or Duck Duck Go. Even with her current absence, Debbie may well be one of the Internet’s most brave, authentic, cathartic, uncompromising, maddening, charming, incisive and personal political voices.
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As always, thanks for reading and please use the comments section to suggest other online political video programs that I may, in my ignorance, have omitted. The growth of independent media over the last several years has not only been something of a salvation for truth seekers and non partisan thinkers, it’s also arguably forced a transformation in the style and substance of journalism (as has Wikileaks) that is desperately needed in an environment of ever-tightening corporate control of the media. Let’s not take it for granted.