NewsfailWhenever people describe the mainstream media as being liberal I just want to scratch my eyes out. How can our mainstream media, whether it’s Fox News, CNN, our morning news shows on network television, AM radio and the Sunday morning political chat shows be considered liberal when six corporations own them? Corporations are hardly liberal (and they’re not people either). Heck, even PBS gets funding from big business corporate juggernaut Wal-Mart and the extremely right wing Koch Brothers.

So thank the gods and goddesses above for Citizen Radio, one of the few media outlets fully-funded by individuals, not corporations, and because of this Citizen Radio is truly free to “tell it like it is.”

Citizen Radio is helmed by husband and wife team Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny. I first learned of Citizen Radio when Bitch Magazine had the good sense to interview Allison Kilkenny about Citizen Radio (and the sorry state of modern media and journalism) instead of wasting its precious pages on the likes of one of the Kardashians where they talk about selfies and “stuff.”

Kilkenny’s take on modern day journalism and media mirrors my own disgust so I decided to check out Citizen Radio and listen to Kilstein and Kilkenny’s well-informed, thought-provoking and yes, funny (Kilstein is also a stand-up comic) whenever possible. So when I came across #Newfail: Climate Change, Feminism, Gun Control, and Other Fun Stuff We Talk About Because Nobody Else Will I just knew I had to add this wonderful tome to my reading list.

Kilstein and Kilkenny’s are true progressive liberals and don’t try to hide it. They met while working at a book store and bonded over the Superman t-shirts they both sported on a particular day. Realizing they both had a nose for news (and both despising current day journalism) and wanting a media outlet that was a little more forthcoming with the truth and was more progressive, they both decided to go all Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland “let’s put on a show, kids!” Thus, Citizen Radio was born.

Now Kilstein and Kilkenny are hardly trust fund hipsters being set up by mommy and daddy and working with a huge budget. To say they were working with a shoestring budget would be a lie. Kilstein and Kilkenny barely had shoes, let alone shoestrings. Can you imagine Matt Lauer or George Stephanopoulos interviewing Ralph Nader from a bathtub? Well, me neither. I can’t imagine either Lauer or Stephanopoulos interviewing anyone from anywhere but a nice, shiny soundstage. I can’t even imagine them interviewing Ralph Nader! During Citizen Radios (vegan) salad days, Kilstein and Kilkenny did just that and from those humble beginnings Citizen Radio continues to grow and reach like-minded people fed-up with corporate-owned media.

#Newsfail is divided into several informative, concise and funny chapters focusing on various topics, including our class war and the mocking of the Occupy movement, climate change (focusing a lot on having a mostly plant-based diet), being pro-choice, the gay agenda, gun control and the NRA, the bogus War on Drugs, the USA’s involvement in foreign countries and finally the importance of truly independent media.

For the most part #Newsfail showcases the status of stories that our mainstream media simply ignores or fails to recognize. In fact, today most mainstream media seems to be more PR and marketing than actual solid journalism these days.

#Newsfail isn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers and sacrifice a few cows in a manner of speaking. Kilstein and Kilkenny are pretty bad ass in speaking of both Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show,” both beloved by most liberals (including this one). Though Kilstein and Kilkenny for the most part, have a fondness for both Stewart and his former Comedy Central gig, they aren’t afraid to expose both them for their less than stellar moments. I must admit, I often cringed while reading this chapter, but I found #Newsfail’s criticism to be fair and constructive. Kilstein and Kilkenny weren’t just being contrary to be jerks.

Undoubtedly, the chapter that might make the reading audience the most uncomfortable is “Al Gore is Fat and we’re All Going to Die: Or, You Can’t Blame Climate Change on Vegans.” Both Kilstein and Kilkenny are truly committed to a vegan lifestyle. Not all liberals are vegans, plenty of them love their burgers and bacon, and this particular liberal loves her butter and cheese (I am from America’s Dairyland after all). In this chapter, Kilstein and Kilkenny do come across a bit preachy and I often squirmed in my seat while reading their arguments. Still, they bring up how eating a more plant-based diet makes for a healthier planet and healthier life. Plus, this chapter even has a recipe for “Jamie’s Vegan Better-Than-Stupid-Pad-Thai Pad Thai.*

Other chapters tell dudes just because you are pro-choice that doesn’t give you an excuse to be a douchebag, the War on Drugs is a massive failure and has destroyed people and communities, how the NRA is a big pile of crap and the need to focus on both gun control and mental health issues (something that seems the mainstream media is finally focusing on a little bit), the “Gay Agenda,” which for some stupid reason is making those on the extreme right think same sex marriage will destroy opposite sex marriage, and the massive failure of our foreign policy in the Middle East.

Finally Kilstein and Kilkenny prove the importance of autonomous journalism in #Newsfail’s epilogue, “Save the Tote Bags!: Why Independent Media is Essential to Saving Democracy and the World.” If it was up to me, this epilogue should be read by every journalism student, everyone involved in media whether mainstream or alternative, and everyone concerned with today’s sorry state of journalism, whether delivered via television, printed publications or digitally via the Internet. Like Kilstein and Kilkenny, our society, our country and our sense of democracy needs this.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how #Newsfail made me proud of my own wee corner of the Internet. As a huge reader and a writer, I’m always on the hunt for good reads, whether fiction or non-fiction, and it is truly a blessing when I find a book that the mainstream media ignores focusing more on a book written by a Real Housewife, a Kardashian, or some other D-list celebrity, reality show cretin or detestable pundit (oh hi there, Ann Coulter). #Newsfail made me think, but it also made me proud. Thank you Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny.

*Speaking of veganism, here is a great vegan dish courtesy of Lisa Jervis’ book Cook Food. FYI, I usually buy my corn and tomatoes from my local farmer’s market and I grow basil at home.

Corn, Tomato and Basil Salad

Ingredients:

3 ears of corn

1 large tomato or two medium, three small, or one basket of cherry tomatoes

1 small handful of torn or chopped basil

1 lemon for both zest and juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Husk the corn. Steam the corn for five minutes in an inch or two of boiling water. Turn once or twice. You can also fully boil the ears of corn. Both methods work.

Place the cobs of corn in the fridge until cool. Cut the kernels off the cobs.

Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks and place in a bowl with the kernels and the basil.

Zest half of the lemon into the bowl. Then juice the lemon into the bowl.

Add the olive oil and toss. Adjust the lemon zest and juice if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

There are a lot of variations to this salad. If you’re not a basil fan, you can always another herb. Mint and cilantro are good. You can also add other veggies. I’ve made this salad with cut-up cucumbers and red onions. Though this is considered a side dish, I’ve often made this salad into a meal with toasted pita bread and hummus.

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