The case for ad-free anything isn’t hard to make these days. Unless you think annoying banners, pop-up ads, and sponsored content are good for the public discourse, it’s easy to see why an environment without third-party sellers can be beneficial for our attention and political organizing.

When it comes to progressive content, however, independent ad-free platforms are few and far in-between. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to engage with the work of lefty commentators online without being tracked and shown targeted ads by Wall Street, the military, meal kit delivery services, and other psychologically manipulative materials the Almighty Algorithms spit back at us based on our digital habits.

While platforms like Patreon have created opportunities to follow and financially support commentators on the Left, mass reliance on social media to receive our news has given tech executives the freedom to intertwine our collective attention with the profit motives of companies like Google and Facebook. This is not to say lefty commentators shouldn’t use social media platforms to reach a wider audience. Many (The Young Turks, Secular Talk, and ContraPoints come to mind) have done so against the odds, essentially carving out platforms for progressives inside the manipulation and surveillance machines of the ruling class.

The point is that we can’t put all of our eggs in the social media basket and expect Silicon Valley executives to provide a leveled playing field in which the best ideas win. The question then becomes: should we cling to YouTube for dear life, or imagine platforms where progressives are not dependent on technocratic elites?

With that said, it’s not too difficult to imagine a place where people in the U.S. are able to discover progressive commentators without the commercialization and toxicity that comes with “social” media. After a writer I admire shared with me the idea of a lefty speaker organization, I became interested in creating a prototype of such a platform—a place where people can view notable work of leading progressives and contact them for public speaking engagements.

I shared the idea with my brother who heads a web design agency, and we built the first iteration of Progressive Speaker (PS).

ProggressiveSpeaker.com: A directory dedicated to progressive public speakers and their work.

What exactly does PS do? It helps leading and up-and-coming progressive speakers generate more speaking engagements by:

  • Creating and updating their profile on Progressive Speaker
  • Facilitating speaking engagement opportunities
  • Offering promotional services to amplify and record speaking events
  • Distributing the latest news from our speakers to current and potential followers

My vision for Progressive Speaker is to include commentators from all over the U.S.— displaying the diversity of ideas inside the growing progressive movement and providing a neutral space for progressives to share their work. The site will feature lefty economists, media makers, writers, journalists, activists, and other public speakers in one place, which will make it easy for interested groups to engage with progressives without getting caught in Mark and Jack’s feeds.

I believe that Progressive Speaker should be accessible to all and fully independent. This is why 100% of all booking fees will go directly to speakers and the site won’t charge speakers to have a profile. Progressive Speaker will not accept corporate and government funding. This means that any support given to PS (through supporters, progressive activists, foundations, etc.) will go directly toward facilitating more speaking engagements and generating more funds for progressive public speakers in the U.S.

Like any bottom-up effort, the success of Progressive Speaker will depend on forming partnerships with those who are already fighting to end inequality, exploitation, discrimination, and environmental devastation. This is why we are currently contacting progressive speakers and organizations who would like to be featured and/or partner with PS.

If you work for a progressive organization and are interested in the mission of Progressive Speaker, you can contact us at info@progressivespeaker.com.

Find out more about Progressive Speaker here: https://progressivespeaker.com/about

You can apply to be a featured speaker here:
https://progressivespeaker.com/speaker-profile

Author

I am a Bulgarian American writer and media maker interested in progressive politics, technology, and culture. The Melt Age is a place to share thoughts outside of paywalls and trackers. You can reach me at: info@themeltage.com.

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