Societal trends raise liberal press' profile

Though dwarfed for a while by the huge growth of right-wing talk radio and media outlets, liberal media seem to be coming into their own once again, with progressive magazines, blogs, radio, and TV programs all reporting a significant increase in audiences.

Though dwarfed for a while by the huge growth of right-wing talk radio and media outlets, liberal media seem to be coming into their own once again, with progressive magazines, blogs, radio, and TV programs all reporting a significant increase in audiences.

Victor Navasky, former editor and now publisher emeritus with The Nation, says some of the recent success is directly tied to the general opposition to the Iraq war, but suggests it was likely gaining steam even before that.

"Whenever the opposition is in office, we do well," he observes. "Our joke is if it's bad for the country, it's good for The Nation."

The progressive/liberal press has also gotten a boost from the launch of the Air America radio network, as well as blogs such as DailyKos.com and AlterNet, says David Lerner, president of New York's Riptide Communications.

"There's also Democracy Now, the flagship of Pacifica Radio, and television shows like The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," he says. "All of these are pitchable with progressive stories, but you have to realize everyone else is pitching them, too."

Dennis Loy Johnson, president of progressive book publisher Melville House agrees. "There seem to be more progressive-themed outlets, but it can be hard to get their attention," he notes. "DailyKos is almost impenetrable."

In the past, left-leaning alternative newspapers in virtually every city in the country augmented the national progressive media. But Johnson says most of these publications now focus on traditional lifestyle stories.

"They're not that alternative anymore and you can't assume they're a progressive publication," he says.

Nor is anyone on the progressive side buying the conservative argument that anything not associated with Fox News or right-wing radio is automatically part of the liberal press.

"We regard outlets such as The New York Times as part of the powers that be," says Navasky. "If it's going to be on the front page of the Times or Newsweek, it probably won't appeal to us."

DeeDee Halleck, cofounder of progressive satellite TV programmer Deep Dish Network, suggests the anti-war movement may be sparking interest in liberal outlets now, but adds that any surge should continue long after US troops leave Iraq.

"It took progressives about 30 years to wake up to it," she says, "but they realize there's a real thirst for this information. As such, you'll see a lot more of it."


PITCHING... Progressive media

Many progressive outlets don't have large staffs and rely primarily on freelancers, so look to pitch writers rather than just the outlets

Liberal outlets often want a lot of perspective and analysis, so position clients as experts and be sure to highlight issues surrounding ongoing hard news stories

Don't be too ideological: With an articulate - and thick-skinned - client, even outlets with conservative hosts, like Fox News, can be a place to argue for a liberal cause or promote a progressive book

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