Free Speech: 10 Most Influential Independent News Outlets

When it comes to finding a reliable source for news, it can be quite a challenging endeavor.  There are so many variables involved that could spin a news outlet in one direction or another; whether it’s a political affiliation, corporate sponsorship, or keeping ratings up, sometimes finding a dependable source for news can seem impossible.  Luckily, some enterprising journalists with a passion for freedom of speech have taken advantage of the opportunities created by online platforms by creating their own news outlets so that the people can be provided with impartial, independent news.

But with the possibility of nearly anyone creating an unregulated news outlet, there's the attendant risk of being misled by news outlets that have their own personal agenda or may lean too far left or right to provide an accurate story. Some of these independent news outlets can be come a soapbox for extreme radicals  so again, it can be difficult to differentiate between what's e a reliable news source and what isn’t.  It takes a considerable amount of searching, checking sources, and comparing to other news outlets in order to find that perfect news source. So, while independent news has proved an incredibly positive aspect of new media, it's certainly got its pitfalls.

Whether accurate or not, though, independent news outlets have the power to be hugely influential.  In the last decade, impartial and independent news outlets have inspires change, encouraging readers, listeners or viewers  to participate proactively in dialogue with the news anchors and the greater online community via social media.

Just how influential are these large-scale independent news outlets which have become a defining feature of new media? Read on to find out more about the ten most influential independent news outlets and decide for yourself whether you'd prefer to stay with the status quo, or be influenced to swim against the current along with these reformative journalists.

10 Democracy Now! – 673,400 Monthly Users

Democracy Now is an independent global news hour run by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales.  It's a non-profit syndicated program that includes news and opinions and has received several awards since it began in 1996.  Democracy Now made headlines during the 2008 Republican National Convention, as police in full riot gear arrested the team members of the news outlet while they were reporting on the convention.  The reason?  Even after the case was settled, it wasn’t very clear.  But Democracy Now won their case and received a $100,000 settlement with the promise of additional police training for the local law enforcement.

9 The Raw Story – 4 Million Monthly Users

The Raw Story is an independent online news publication with a liberal and progressive slant on their news.  It was started around 2004 by John Byrne and, since then, has generated a monthly visitor number of over 4 million visitors.  The Raw Story team has recently been celebrating their 10 years anniversary as a completely independent news source, and they continue to be an influential news source for those who have tired of the overt political leanings of news sources such as Fox News. The original reports from the Raw Story have been featured on mainstream news like MSNBC and the Daily Show.

8 The Real News Network – 5 Million Monthly Users

The Real News Network is a non-profit television news outlet and documentary network.  If you go to their website, you won’t even find any advertisements as they're adamant about no government or corporate funding - RNN are entirely funded by donations.  The Real News Network has become well known for their mission statement, which states their dedication to independent news on the really critical issues of the day.  Of course we know that bias is a part of human nature, and The Real News Network has often been criticized for leaning too far over on the left - although, unlike most mainstream news outlets, they acknowledge the possibility that personal bias will spill over into their reporting.

7 The Independent – 14.5 Million Monthly Users

The Independent is a British daily newspaper, as well as a thriving news website.  From politics, to world and local news, to opinion pieces, The Independent has been slated as an outlet free from censorship.  Primarily funded from private donations, The Independent made waves by covering stories that other news outlets may very well avoid, making it a good place for news that you may not often find on the mainstream news sites. Launched in 1986, it's one of the most recent publications on the competitive newspaper circuit in the UK, but 'The Indy' has fast become one of the most influential publications in Britain with over 14 million readers over the print and online platforms. The newspaper was sold to Russian businessman Alexander Lebedev in 2010, though, and has since removed its front-page banner stating that it's free from proprietorial influence. However, the leftist publication remains free of political leanings.

6 TheBlaze – 21.1 Million Monthly Users

Headquartered in Texas, U.S., TheBlaze is an independent television network known for its markedly conservative and libertarian spin. Founded by Glenn Beck in 2010 TheBlaze has played a very influential role on listeners who both agree and disagree with their views.  Starting with a website, evolving into a radio show and then an online and cable television channel, Beck has created one of the leading independent news outlets in the world - and, notably, one of only a very few large conservative independent news outlets.

5 The Young Turks - 20 Million Monthly Viewers

TYT, the 'largest online news show in the world', is a news commentary show - driven by a generally liberal attitude - almost entirely funded by website subscribers and YouTube revenue. Founded in 2002 by Turkish-American journalist and political commentator, Cenk Uygur, The Young Turks started as a cable television show and went on to become a radio show before becoming a weekly fixture of Current TV's programming. In 2013 when the channel was bought over by Al Jazeera, The Young Turks was cancelled: At that point, the team of news commentators began to focus exclusively on their online programming via their website - TYT Network - and their YouTube channel. The channel became one of the few on Youtube to reach 1 billion views, and it averages over 20 million unique views monthly. With daily reports on - and debates about - news from America and internationally, the panel of commentators led by Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian claim that they 'don't give a damn' about the mainstream media code on what can and can't be said. Their sometimes irreverent style of reporting has attracted fans from across the world who contribute to the $3 million yearly revenue generated by this independent news channel.

4 AlterNet – 22 Million Monthly Users

Often criticized for leaning extremely to the left, AlterNet was founded in 1998 and pits itself against any news outlets with corporate involvement.  AlterNet, funded through donations and ad revenue, won a Webby award twice - in 2003 and 2005.  Inspiring action is actually a part of AlterNet’s mission statement, which makes them without a doubt a knowingly influential independent news source.

3 Independent Media Center – 30 Million Monthly Users

The IMC, 'Indy Media Centre', has truly become a source for people looking for the gritty news from war torn countries around the world.  Their global network of journalists are independent freelancers who use IMC as an outlet to share their stories,  adhering to IMC's policy of providing "radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of truth".  In a time where corporate involvement and politics play a huge role in the coverage on war-torn areas, the IMC is very much appreciated by many readers wanting to know more than what is allowed on mainstream media. It has had a number of run-ins with the law though, with servers having been seized by the FBI in the past; an attach, said IndyMedia, on independent news outlets.

2 Reddit – 100 Million Monthly Users

Although Reddit isn’t technically or expressly news outlet, it has recently become a popular news source around the world. Reddit has often been the first to post about the latest happenings around the world - how many times have you seen, “According to Reddit...” on numerous news outlets recently?  - and it's a site truly run by the people and for the people, without any direct bias. In the great tradition of internet democracy, once a story becomes popular on Reddit it's almost guaranteed to become viral - cropping up everywhere from Facebook, to Twitter and beyond.  Not only can people post the latest news, but there's also a forum for debate, and for readers to legitimise or deny information.

1 Huffington Post – 105 Million Monthly Users

Arianna Huffington, Andrew Breitbart, Kenneth Lerer, and Jonah Peretti founded the Huffington Post in 2005.  Since its inception, it has become a resource for original content, blogs, news, and opinions covering a wide range of topics from politics to the paranormal.  With so many varieties of information on the Huffington Post, it is no surprise as to how many monthly users are on the website.  There is really something out there for everyone to read and enjoy.  The Huffington Post can sometimes post information that can be considered inaccurate or scaled to lean a certain direction when it comes to politics, but overall this independent news outlets share news as people see them and influence many in their decisions in politics, opinions, and everyday life.

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