The idea that eventually became The Global Report, a nonprofit multimedia news content provider, was hatched in January 1999 in Asheville, NC when three citizens became dismayed by the lack of timely, critical and freely available information about pertinent social, environmental and public health issues in their local news media. They recognized the emergence of a public information crisis with serious implications for the future of our local citizenry as well as for the collective future of humanity and the planet as a whole. What happened to journalism—the institutional gatekeeper of democracy and civil society, guardian of the public trust? Up-to-date knowledge essential to the commonwealth of all people and the environment (also known as "news") had become at best, a commodity; at worst, a byproduct of commerce.
Nearly two decades of bipartisan government media deregulation resulted in a dramatic increase in private media consolidation, which, by the 1990s saw a mere four corporate entities own and control what most people see and hear on the airwaves, billboards, and printed pages of the world. Independently owned, traditional news outlets were being bought up en masse as each new succeeding piece of deregulatory legislation was whipped through congress. News content became increasingly homogenous and limited in scope, and, more often than not, designed to satisfy the profit margins of corporate media shareholders and their partners in business and politics, rather than serve the public as a civic-minded watchdog, holding power accountable.
We found it disconcerting that citizens, at both the local and national levels, now had to consult foreign news media just to find out what their government was doing not only abroad, but also within our own backyards. It seemed that the foundation of our government—informed consent—was vanishing seamlessly into the encroaching corporate atmosphere of a market-driven takeover of the public commons.
Although this process had begun very gradually when deregulation was first instituted across many government sectors in the early 1980s, by the mid- to late-1990s, deregulation was the norm on Capitol Hill. As a result, the once relatively independent free press had become so corporately owned/managed that it could no longer live up to its traditional role as a vigilant public watchdog, checking abuses of power and holding elected officials and business leaders to account. This unfortunate process of attenuation has continued to this very day, leaving millions of people around the world ignorant of vital information about government policies and world events that effect our collective societies and our natural environment.
To address this problem, a free, public newspaper named the Asheville Global Report was conceived as a form of citizen-driven outreach through the education that journalism at its best is designed to promote. As an antidote, the Asheville Global Report began providing a reliable weekly digest of crucial, under-reported news to compensate for and fill this growing void. Within a very short time, despite envisioning our organization simply as a free press resource for those within our local community, we were doing such exceptional work that others outside of our fair city began to take notice. In just a few years, the Asheville Global Report would win ten Project Censored awards. Utne Reader would nominate our newspaper for Best International Coverage in the country. Along the way, our organization also became a new model for independent newspapers, inspiring others to follow our example such as Chapel Hill, NC's Triangle Free Press and Berkley, CA's North Bay Progressive.
In a sense, The Global Report's greater vision was thrust upon us by the appreciation of others. What began as a free weekly newsletter designed to disclose underreported information from around the world to the local citizenry of Asheville, NC, was soon beginning to provide this same global digest to citizens far and wide via the internet and satellite television, beginning with an electronic newsletter and website, then a podcast radio program and eventually culminating in a full production video broadcast. Our vision to serve our fellow citizens of Asheville was enlarged to serve our fellow citizens of The Globe.
In mid-2007, due to several factors affecting the small newsprint industry as a whole, we had to lie to rest our regional flagship newspaper, the Asheville Global Report. However, that same year in which our organization saw the newspaper's demise, our video edition, The Global Report, was picked up for national broadcasting via Free Speech TV on the Dish and DIRECTTV satellite networks. Remarkably, our weekly video digest was not only being served to the world via the internet as web video, it was now being transmitted into up to 26 million homes across the United States.
Today, through various web, radio and TV outlets, our video edition of The Global Report retains an impressive presence on the alternative news media landscape. Our half hour program enjoys heavy rotation (10 weekly broadcasts) alongside acclaimed shows such as Democracy Now!, The Thom Hartmann Program, and Laura Flanders' Grit TV. The Global Report is further simulcast into several local public access stations in many major metropolitan markets. To name just one example, our news can be seen prime time, twice daily in San Francisco, CA. Other markets range from Olympia, WA to Scranton, PA to Princeton, NJ and beyond. Having expanded into the arena of social networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Current TV and Twitter, The Global Report also now commands an international audience worthy of our name via the internet.