Once in a while a great opportunity comes along when you are actually in a place to appreciate it. I'm lucky enough to be in such a place right now. In January, The Independent Film Channel (IFC) asked me to create a TV show that would reveal the true influences on news in this country. So along with my producing partner Nick McKinney, we set out to create "IFC Media Project," which takes an in-depth look at the influences shaping today's media coverage including journalistic integrity, biases, corporate influence, profits, ratings, propaganda, agendas, obsessions and more.
The past year has been a wild road. In February, I got all dolled up and fabulous and went to the 81st Academy Awards as a nominee for producing SICKO. And this past June, as we wrapped up the pilot episode, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. So in the midst of these incredible highs and lows, some really wonderful things happened, clarity and focus set in upon me immediately.
It's been an intense journey but the toughest parts are behind me, and all of the hard work of these past months is coming to fruition. Next week, "The IFC Media Project," will premiere (IFC, November 18th at 8:00pm). The week after that, I will undergo my final round of chemotherapy.
Over the past dozen months, I have watched the most important political race of my lifetime through the increasing roar of our news media. While glued to every bit of coverage, I have been frustrated by the superficiality of it all. Yet I couldn't help feeling confident that what we were working on was the perfect wake up call to the white noise posing as 'news.'
Right now our country is entangled in two bloody wars, faced with an economic collapse on par with The Great Depression, and represented by a fourth estate with a reputation as shaky as its bottom line. Too often, the decisions of our news media are dictated by ratings and the profit margins of their corporate parent companies. We got into this mess partly because the media censored itself and too many of us were complacent with the answers we were given. It is time that we, the people, take a more active role in this national conversation.
To be fully engaged with what's going on, we must get behind the headlines and past the spin. If the media won't do it voluntarily, then yes, we must do it for them. In the first season of "The IFC Media Project," this is exactly what we try to do.
We expose the business press who cheered the nation to economic collapse, and we celebrate the unheralded journalists who go to the frontlines of journalism to bring us the stories that are often lost amid the screaming pundits. Combining the immediacy of television and the in-depth nature of documentary film - "The IFC Media Project" is a mix of stories that are absurd, shocking, hopeful and outrageously funny.
One of the most important lessons I learned from working on three films with Michael Moore is that you can be entertaining and informative. It's a trick many in the cable news world seem to have only understood the first half of, but we have tried to strike this balance. And balance is one of the new words that I am seeking on my journey, but I think it applies to the country as a whole post election. Let's get off the crazy train that has been the last eight years. Let's roll up our sleeves, and clean up the mess that has been made of America, and let's please CALL OUR MEDIA to join this task.
We need them and we need to trust them again. So for our part - our show is doing just that - praising journalists when they take risks, calling them out when they are blinded by ratings, and spanking them when they are too lazy to dig beyond what is spoon-fed to them.
The Six-Part Series THE IFC MEDIA PROJECT launches Tuesday, November 18
@ 8:00 PM ET on IFC.
For further information please log on to: http://www.ifc.com/on-ifc/mediaproject.