Ja Lang G. Greene is the editor and founder of the Independent Bias an online journal dedicated to providing its readers with independent, fair and balanced views and opinions. In this interview Rich Bowden talks with Lang about the Independent Bias, the changing face of the media and the effect the information super highway has had on reporting news and opinion.


RB:     With the advent of the Internet, traditional news sources such as newspapers, radio and TV no longer have the monopoly on information. Do you believe people are seeking genuine alternative viewpoints?


JLG:   Yes. However, the media monopoly is alive and well. American news outlets are controlled by big business. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 has permitted the most concentrated ownership of media in American history. Time Warner and TCI by themselves own over 40% of network cable distribution. Some polls show that 50% of Americans cite their only source for news is through the television set.        

RB:   Are there any areas where you believe traditional news and opinion sources have let consumers down?


JLG:   Plenty. Primetime news has gone to Hollywood. Where is the accountability? The media has the power to lay everything out in a clear and concise format to the public.  Instead you are bombarded with damage control spin that further complicates the situation.


RB:   What role do you believe smaller websites such as the Independent Bias and the Cheers play in the dissemination of news and opinion?


JLG:   First and foremost, the Cheers and IB help stimulate meaningful conversation  from the masses. We also give a voice to everyone. No matter your background, PhD, lawyer, athlete, librarian, or unemployed. Every individuals vote counts the same as the next person.  These websites create an awareness of world events and help promote activism in communities globally.


RB:   Are there certain advantages in being a small, independent website?


JLG:  Of course. I like the role of being a smaller outlet. Corporate interests censoring our coverage is not a factor. We are free to cover any subject in a truly objective manner. I also find it easier to connect with people who distrust big media.


RB:   When you first conceived the idea of the Independent Bias, what were your aims and how successful do you believe you have been in achieving these?


JLG:  Glad that you ask. I conceived the idea of IB while listening to a talk radio program hosted by Sean Hannity. All one-sided news with a slant toward the Republican Party. Though I am not affiliated with a political party, I find bashing your opposing view without representation from their end to be a little cheesy.  What does this accomplish? It is very easy to preach your views in front of an audience that agrees with those same values. However, to reach everyone, you one day must step out of the pulpit and try to convince others who may not share the same ideology. The purpose of IB is to take a representative of a view, remove them from their comfort zone, and pair them with the opposite side in a debate called the Main Event. This in my opinion makes the representative back up their points with valid facts and not just verbal bashing. I believe we have been successful with our goal, but the battle has just begun. No one particular person or group can be right all the time, it is silly ignorance and arrogance to believe that, but you would be surprised at how many people feel they are right ALL the time.


RB:   What was your background in the media before you began editing the Independent Bias?


JLG:   I worked as an Auditor for a company that consulted magazines and newspapers all over the world. I have spoken with many different high level figures involved in the publishing business and listened to their advice. Most stated they would love to have an outlet where their coverage wasnt restricted to geography or the aforementioned advertiser censorship. I have also provided freelance writings to different outlets, helped in the startup of various newsletters, and provided spot radio commentary. On a lighter side I am columnist for Boxing Scene (www.boxingscene.com). I am a huge sports fan and a boxing enthusiast.



RB:     What would you consider to be the most difficult task of the editor?


JLG:   (Joking) Dealing with my hardheaded staff. Seriously, it is deciding what issues need full attention from IB. Being the Editor of a site that actively solicits both viewpoints is not hard. Gathering insight is rather easy, as each side doesnt want to concede victory to the other.


RB:   What advice would you offer to any reader contemplating starting up their own website?


JLG: Simple: 1. Do your research. 2. Find your niche. 3. Fill out your staff with dedicated people. Your ideas may be the best, but if you dont have a good team who really believes in your project, good luck. 4. Before you start the venture make sure you have the necessary time needed to run a site.


RB:    On a more general topic, Id be interested in hearing your views on the performance of the Internet as a news source. Do you agree with the statement that the wide variety of news and opinions that are now available to the general public through the Internet are an example of pure freedom of speech?


JLG:  Oh yes it is pure freedom of speech, but it also lacks responsibility. The increasing popularity of blogs and web forums has led to frivolous accusations against political figures with little or no merit. Sadly, a lot people who read these posts do little on separating the false propaganda from the facts that should be discussed.


RB:     Recent on-line footage showing the horrific beheading of Nicholas Berg by extremists in retaliation for the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal prompted widespread criticism of the way the Internet is used by these organizations to further their aims. Do you believe that criticism is justified?


JLG:   No. Mass media covers these events. The footage showing Mr. Berg blindfolded and terrified was displayed all over the world. In fact some of media actually showed tapes up to a second before the actual beheading. It is just common human nature to be curious to see the conclusion after being subjected to all of the media coverage. I personally, did not have any interest in viewing those films. Killing is killing in my book. Violence is violence. Whether it is a beheading or mistakenly dropping a bomb on civilians from 30,000 feet above the ground. In my view the killing of innocents should be equally examined.


RB:    According to Napoleon Bonaparte: Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets. As Napoleon obviously knew the value of controlling the countrys media, do you believe the prevalence of alternative opinions available to consumers has made it harder for todays governments to win the hearts and minds of the people?


JLG:  Tough question. A good question. Napoleon had a point. The prevalence of alternative opinions has made government officials a little more accountable for their actions. But as long as people blindly associate themselves with groups knowing their stance may be wrong, the governments will always win.


RB:   Twenty years ago, few would have foreseen the wide range of information available to the discerning public. Gazing into your crystal ball for a moment, where do you believe people will find the bulk of their news and opinion in 2024?


JLG:   The possibilities of Internet news are endless. Think about how much the scope has changed in the last 10 years alone. However, lets be realistic, I do not see governments allowing the Internet to grow to that potential. Expect some type of legislation to be handed down. So those in power can stay in power.




            For more information, please visit theseindependent websites:


Coffee Shop Times (www.coffeeshoptimes.com), Right wing News (www.rightwingnews.com), Internet News Daily (www.internewsdaily.com), and Lean Left (www.leanleft.com)