Corrente is having its fund raiser; please stop by and throw some money into the hat if you can.
Corrente is an important site for liberals to support because of what it is and what it does. Here’s what it is: an old school blog. While political blogs existed before 2000, they weren’t part of the national consciousness. Bob Somerby’s exhaustive chronicling of the media’s appalling failure during the Bush/Gore campaign was the first example1 of an independent blogger getting recognition for the kind of analysis that was entirely absent from mainstream outlets.
Somerby’s work, the development of easy to use blogging software, and the first Bush term conspired to create the Great Netroots Bubble - many jumped in and started sounding off, and web sites were the only platform for doing that. So there were lots of them, Corrente among them.
Starting a web site is easy. Maintaining one for years is hard. Many sites didn’t do much more than post links along with “read this” or some other bland comment. Some made (and some still make) a living off of jumping all over breaking headlines and being the first to comment - usually with great vehemence - on them. Not many were doing sustained, longer-form analysis. Because that’s hard.
Over time a lot of sites just sort of drifted into hibernation. New platforms like Twitter and Facebook gave people other ways to sound off, and lots of activity migrated there. Traditional media sites began ramping up their online presence, in some cases bringing some independent bloggers into the fold. And quite frankly, the end of the Bush administration (a great unifying force on the left) along with the enormously contentious 2008 Democratic primary put a lot of progressives off. Blanket opposition to the right is much more fun than internecine bloodletting.
So a few years ago the bubble burst, and it was soon compounded by a growing fragmentation in technology: Devices now have apps optimized to display just so on them, and such use of proprietary technology is creating walled gardens. Your connected experience will be different depending on whether you’re on an iPad, an Android device, etc. The idea of a write-once-run-anywhere technology like a Web site is almost becoming anachronistic.
Here is where Corrente comes back into the picture. It stayed up after the initial novelty of blogging wore off, stayed up as alternatives to blogging emerged, stayed up after all the bad feelings in the spring of 2008, and continues to be a thriving community - as readable as ever. Sites committed to open technology that have shown staying power ought to be encouraged, and you should at least consider donating to Corrente based on that alone.
That’s what Corrente is. Here is what it does: unapologetically, creatively and forcefully advocates for liberal policies. This is distinct from cheerleading for political factions or vague grousing about how bad things are. Sometimes it uniquely frames the hot issues of the moment (shared sacrifice in the current Grand Bargain negotiations); sometimes it looks at new ways of approaching existing issues (modern monetary theory); sometimes it focuses on issues that the MSM won’t cover, or won’t cover adequately (Occupy Wall Street).
Corrente is an independent site. Those who post there do not have to curry favor with anyone, and they do not have to self-censor. Yes there are liberal voices at big outlets, but when you are in a news division that is a line item for a multinational corporation, well, let’s just say you might decide against sustained, trenchant critiques of America’s current version of capitalism.
As time goes on there are fewer and fewer sites like Corrente: Ones that feature a wide variety of thoughtful writers and that operate truly on their terms, beholden to no one. It doesn’t run on encouraging words, though. It needs a certain modest amount of money to stay up. If the staying power of the site makes it worth your consideration for a little hamster kibble, the quality of the content makes it worth actually clicking over there and doing the deed.
1. This is not meant to be a definitive history of the netroots, just some background for the Corrente fundraiser. I’m writing from the best of my recollection, so don’t go crazy if some of the details are off. If you think some of the broad contours are wrong let me know, but otherwise I’m not going to spend a lot of time litigating, say, the timeline of Atrios’ rise to influence.