Founder and director of Alternative Radio (AR), David Barsamian joined Rethinking Prosperity on May 19 to discuss capitalism and the environment as well as the role of the media in front of a diverse, intimate, and lively audience of faculty, students, and community members. Arguing that we have not been good stewards of the earth because of the dominance of the profit motive, Barsamian emphasized that we are heading towards an iceberg of environmental crisis and catastrophe—a collision course comparable to that of the Titanic. Thus, radical action is required to change the course. And in this process the media, he noted, is not staining itself with glory. Instead of informing us about serious topics, such as going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can only trust the media to sell us products. By excessively reporting on topics, such as the Patriots’ deflated footballs, the media functions as a weapon of mass distraction from what is really important, Barsamian argued. The range of opinions reported in the media goes from A to B, not A to Z. Due to the lack of debate and opinions in the media, it is the job of alternative media to create alternative narratives and spaces for dialogue. The change that is needed, Barsamian told the audience, has to come from the bottom. It is the media consumers themselves who have to connect the dots because the media will not do it for us. After his presentation, a lively discussion ensued.
Alternative Radio is an independent weekly public affairs series based in Boulder, Colorado. It is broadcast on over 175 radio stations in across North America. On his radio program, Barsamian has interviewed Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali, and Edward Said, among others.