Everyone complains about the news media. Hell, I did that very thing with my very first article on this site. There’s an understanding, especially among the young, that the official news media has been bought and paid for and isn’t giving us news so much as propaganda meant to serve whichever person is footing the bill. This Gallups Poll shows that the number of people that trust such news sources are shrinking, and the news media is doing nothing to combat the perception that they are now engaged in yellow journalism. With the mainstream media seemingly bought and paid for, there did not seem to be any place for those of us seeking actual news to turn to in order to get the information we need.
Enter a man named Cenk Uygur. He worked as a radio talk show host on WWRC in Washington DC, and later on WKRO in Boston. He was also a key producer for WAMI-TV in Florida, and then did some work for MSNBC as a political commentator. In December 2005, he and one of his co-workers, Ben Mankiewicz, created a self-produced local access news show called the Young Turks and had the good sense to take it online.
The term “Young Turk” is an expression used to describe a rebel who chooses to work within the system that they are rebelling against, often in an effort to fix perceived problems with that system. It comes from the former Ottoman Empire, where a group of young revolutionaries demanded liberalism, progression, and political reform.
Cenk and Ben, along with Dave Koller and Jill Pike, used the Young Turks as a vehicle to take a deeper look at news and politics, approaching both subjects with an honest and often satirical eye. Telling the truth has always been a risky business, and is one of the reasons that court jesters were so powerful in medieval times, and why Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert (the Daily Show and Colbert Report, respectively) have become as influential as they are.
But those two, as potent as their parody newscasts have been, were still comedy. While the Young Turks are willing to use satire they are most assuredly a serious place to become informed as to what’s going on in the world today, and how we have gotten to this point.
The Turks have expanded their cast since their early days and have now moved primarily online, where they point out the logical fallacies, cognitive biases, causal hypocrisies, and casual lies found in all sides of modern mainstream media coverage, using humor as a means to report news on a more balanced manner than what’s presented on television, radio, or other news sites.
For example, they have called out the Obama administration’s refusal to pursue legal action against HSBC for laundering money for drug cartels and terrorist organizations worldwide, that same administration’s support for drone strikes within the United States, as well as the mad rants of Rush Limbaugh against, well, everyone who is not Rush Limbaugh and the Young Turks themselves, the insanity of the GOP, and the out-and-out fabrications purported as fact by Fox News.
As seen above, the willingness of the Young Turks to explain every possible side of an argument and to call bullshit on the bias of more proper informational services has made them wildly popular… so popular, in fact, that they’ve averaged two-hundred and fifty thousand hits per day at the height of their popularity, and have, in total, more than nine hundred million views since their start at the end of 2005.
They’ve won several awards, including Best Political Podcast in 2009 and the People’s Voice in News and Politics Award in 2011, and they’ve won these awards because they are everything news should be: honest, unbiased, and informative. They hold themselves and the stories they cover to the highest possible standard, and are a living journalistic ideal because of it.
And while that doesn’t sound like such a big deal, in this world it is. It is a serious handicap to be fed a heavily biased “news service”. Since the mainstream news services have been bought and paid for by sponsors, they only report on stories that serve their own agendas. Actively denigrating the views, narratives, or purposes of others. The Young Turks are giving us straight and unbiased facts, removing themselves from the political and corporate spectrum to keep us informed of what’s going on in the world. This is a rare deed and it is for this service that we are calling them Everyday Heroes.
You can – and should – follow them at either their official site, www.tvtnetwork.com, or their youtube channel over at www.youtube.com/users/TheYoungTurks/