Archives For Penton Independent Pagan Media

Just last week I was on the phone with Rev. Selena Fox, executive director of Lady Liberty League, discussing media strategies to help Kyrja Withers.  During this discussion, we were noting the excellent reporting done by Tampa’s ABC Action News.  In that discussion, Selena mentioned the need to share the news report with the Pagan Media.

At that point I had to pause. She knew what she meant and I knew what she meant.  Regardless, I blurted out the question:

“What is the Pagan Media?”

Photo Courtesy of Flickr's Micky.!

Photo Courtesy of Flickr’s Micky.!

As an off-shoot of my publicity work for Covenant of the Goddess, I have been considering this question for quite some time. Public relations professionals usually maintain a solid database of journalists who could be targeted for press releases and media statements. I’ve started such a database for the Pagan Media but the more that I work on it, the more that I scratch my head.

There are some clear candidates.  These include traditional media outlets such as print magazines (e.g. Circle Magazine, Sage Woman, Witches and Pagans) and community-based print newsletters. In the digital world there is the Pagan Newswire Collective family of blogs, AREN, South Africa’s Penton Independent Pagan Media, Pagans Tonight Radio Network and Pagan Musings Podcast Channel, Patheos Pagan Channel and, of course, The Wild Hunt… (toot toot).. to name just a very few.

Although I consider the above entities to be definitive members of what we now call “The Pagan Media,” they do not mark the boundaries of this emerging “industry” – to borrow Jason Mankey’s descriptor. There are an endless number of information sources that can now perform the job of the Media. Figuring out who or what they are has become more of a challenge than originally anticipated.

“How do you take a cloud and pin it down?”

Why is it so difficult? The digital revolution has broken the traditional modes of operation and uprooted the foundations of journalistic output. The barriers to entry are next to nothing.  What we now experience is media anarchy!

It is true that this new world has been a boon for the Pagan Media.  It is maturing within a brave new world that even the mainstream media has yet to understand. It is a big wild wood of information … a place where every blog, every post, and every tweet could become tomorrow’s big story.


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good

In the traditional system, writers were dependent upon editors for visibility. Those writers or broadcasters whose works commanded the most profit were contracted. Only the popular stories were printed. To fix the famous slogan:  “All the news that [the editors believe] is fit to print.”

In today’s world, more voices are being heard.  More writers are being read.  There are no boundaries of thought. If you can’t get published in The New Yorker, you can open your own Blogger account. This level of freedom has been vitally important to marginalized sub-cultures, like our own, who haven’t necessarily had the funding, time or clout to grow a strong traditional Media presence. Bronwyn Katze, Penton International Media’s Editor, celebrates this change by saying it “helps to keep the stories grounded, real and more relatable to the average community member.”  We can write about ourselves, for ourselves, without limitations or censorship.

The Bad

To quote Eleonor Roosevelt, “With Freedom comes responsibility.”

In the traditional system, there were standards and expectations of the writer.  There were ladders to climb and credentials to earn.  Being a journalist meant something very specific as determined by the industry.  As such readers knew what they were getting and could easily instill their trust in one news source or another based upon those expectations. If you picked up the Green Egg, you knew what to expect and could trust its editor to maintain that standard. The same goes for mainstream media such as The New York Times or CNN.

Now there are no standards or accountability for integrity of the data, of the news agency or of the writer. As Bronwyn Katze observes:

Instead of journalists with degrees and diplomas in the field of journalism, we are now seeing a shift to community members with little-to-no writing experience keeping the community up-to-date on the latest news happening within the community.

How do you know where to put your trust?  By what criteria do you have to judge the writer or the news site? The proscenia, if you will, which defined something as a “credible news source” are non-existent.  How do you know if something is straight news or merely commentary?  What are the credentials of the writer?  Does the site have an agenda?

In this world, it becomes the exhausting responsibility of the reader to sift through all these sites and determine what is valuable.  It becomes the burden of the writer to earn and safeguard the trust of each and every reader in order to build and maintain credibility. Freedom can be liberating but it can be overwhelming and … dangerous.  It’s media anarchy.

The Ugly

In the internet news world, anything can become news and anyone can become a news source.  The Bowdon Lady Liberty League case began with one brother’s blog rant. For my Fox News Story, I was tipped off by a Facebook post.  After the Marathon bombings, the Boston Police Department tweeted updates faster than the news stations could report. It’s media anarchy.  And, if you aren’t careful – as a writer or reader – it could get ugly.

Photo by Flickr's striatic

Photo by Flickr’s striatic

All-in-all, the internet has provided fertile ground for the Pagan Media.  In addition to growth, Pagan Media is more visible which demonstrates that Pagans are a very real presence in greater society. But I’m still left looking for those boundaries… what or who is emerging to become this Pagan Media? Within this anarchy, how do I determine who makes the database?

Perhaps this new world needs a new question. Instead of asking:  “what or who is the Pagan Media?”  I should ask, “How do you get your news?”  Are you a traditionalist who waits on the paperboy and buys print copies of Pagan Dawn? Are you moderately progressive with digital subscriptions to The New York Times and assorted Pagan newsletters?  Are you digitally-deft using readers to aggregate your news from well-respected media sources such as Mashable, Huffington Post and The Wild Hunt?  Or, are you digital surfer who waits for the news to find you through Twitter or Facebook?

With that question answered, I may be able determine the scope of the Pagan Media, how these entities are thriving and how they help the Pagan community?  So I ask:

In which Pagan news sources are you instilling your trust?  Where and how do you get your news? 

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.

Spencer Butte in Eugene, Oregon

Spencer Butte in Eugene, Oregon

  • This just in: walking in the woods is good for you! Quote: “In an effort to benefit the Japanese and find nonextractive ways to use forests, which cover 67 percent of the country’s landmass, the government has funded about $4 million in forest-bathing research since 2004. It intends to designate a total of 100 Forest Therapy sites within 10 years. Visitors here are routinely hauled off to a cabin where rangers measure their blood pressure, part of an effort to provide ever more data to support the project.” Those of us who love to sojourn into nature regularly can most likely attest to the salubrious effects of wooded terrain.
  • Religion Clause reports that the USDA has “released a lengthy report titled USDA Policy and Procedures Review and Recommendations: Indian Sacred Sites.” Quote from the summary: “[The report calls] for USDA and the U.S. Forest Service to work more closely with Tribal governments in the protection, respectful interpretation and appropriate access to American Indian and Alaska Native sacred sites on national forests and grasslands. The report recommends steps the Forest Service should take to strengthen the partnerships between the agency, Tribal governments, and American Indian and Alaska Native communities to help preserve America’s rich native traditions.” This seems a welcome step forward after some recent incidents involving sacred lands.
  • Moral panics often help promote the very thing they (sometimes literally) demonize. Quote: “The most common way for music to blow up from a small scene into global pop is for a controversy to erupt. Music history is littered with examples of “moral panics”: be-bop jazz was blamed for white-on-black race riots in the mid-1940s, just as rap music was blamed when riots erupted in Los Angeles following the Rodney King trial. In both cases, sensationalized news reports and especially a focus on the “dangerous” elements in the music attracted young people in droves. Moral panics, like magnets, repel and attract.” That quote is from Jennifer Lena, whose book “Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music,” looks very interesting. To give this a Pagan spin, one wonders if the “Satanic” panics of the 1980s and 1990s actually drew people into the occult and modern Paganism? Yet another factor to explore in the “teen witch” boom?
  • Remember folks, reality television, all reality television, distorts its subjects.
  • In a final note, Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish is going independent, and will subsist on reader donations. Which makes me wonder, will the future of media not be with massive ever-expanding content hubs, but with smaller, curated, islands that are more responsive to the communities they serve? Or, at the very least, will the new media ecosystem allow for both to thrive?

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed.

Pagan Community Notes is a companion to my usual Pagan News of Note, a series more focused on news originating from within the Pagan community. I want to reinforce the idea that what happens to and within our organizations, groups, and events is news, and news-worthy. My hope is that more individuals, especially those working within Pagan organizations, get into the habit of sharing their news with the world. So lets get started!

Patrick McCollum Travels to Thailand: Pagan chaplain and activist Patrick McCollum will be traveling to Thailand in February at the invitation of Dhammakaya temple in the Pathumtani Province, where he will be honored as a World Inner Peace Ambassador, and share Pagan rituals and practices with Buddhist Lamas. McCollum will then travel to the renowned temple at Borobudur on the Island of Java with Lama Gangchen Rinpoche, of the World Peace Foundation.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to represent my community in such a significant way.  Perhaps in working to create a better world, my efforts may help reduce the prejudice and discrimination many of our community and other minorities face in the mundane world.  In the end, I hope to show that all people, no matter what their beliefs, are both sacred and connected, and that all the people of the world should be honored as brothers and sisters of the Human race!”

Patrick will be sharing more information and insights about his trip with us when he returns. This is a major interfaith event for modern Pagan faiths, one that could have far-reaching effects on Buddhist-Pagan relations for years to come. Congratulations to Patrick on this great honor.

Wisteria Wants to Clear the Air: The Wisteria campground and nature retreat in Ohio, home to several Pagan festivals and events, is participating in the Pepsi Refresh Project in order to win $5000 dollars for the construction of composting toilets for the facility.

“This project will aid Wisteria in building composting toilets on site for the use of its patrons and guests.  It will also act as a demonstration, showing that the use of composting toilets is a legitimate alternative to the traditional Porta-Johns that are typically used in festival and event settings.  Finally, it will go to helping develop legislation that will be instrumental for state acceptance of the composting toilet scenario.”

As press release sent to my by Wisteria workshop coordinator Adam Hoyt says: “No more walk through camp with friends, timing your conversation with the pause required to avoid the early morning “crispness” of the “Od’air” of the blue box.” If this project gets into the top ten (currently at #91), they will receive the funding. Individuals can vote twice per day by a variety of different methods. So take some time out and support a less smelly Wisteria!

Pagan Perspectives on Marriage: Marriage and Family Therapist Charlton Hall, a member of the Universal Order of Druids, is researching Pagan perspectives on marriage, and is conducting a survey.

“I am a Marriage and Family Therapist, researching this topic. If you practice an Earth-centered spiritual path, would you take a few moments to participate in this ten-question survey? Thanks!”

Feel free to pass the survey link along. The more responses, the more accurate the results!

Penton Magazine Changes With the Times: South African Pagan magazine Penton has shifted gears and relaunched as Penton Independent Pagan Media.

“Penton has just launched our new site – a more user friendly option. I’ll be uploading archived articles and interviews published in Penton Magazine (dating back to 2004) over the next few weeks. Penton Magazine’s new release as Penton Independent Pagan Media offers a change in both visual format, functionality and publication frequency. Penton’s readers can now interact online with our contributing authors, regular columnists and new bloggers directly. Instead of quarterly publications, Penton will now publish new articles and blogs more frequently (weekly).”

This is an encouraging step, and I look forward to more perspectives and news from South African Pagans from this relaunched venture. You can contact Penton Independent Pagan Media, here.

Maetreum of Cybele Continues the Fight: The Daily Mail in Greene County, New York, checks in with the Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater’s ongoing tax battle with the Town of Catskill, and finds that the legal stalemate continues.

The Palenville pagan sect fighting for the town’s recognition as a religious entity says it will not stop, even if it needs to go federal. The Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater’s ongoing tax battle with the Town of Catskill has entered its fifth year, with the municipality continuing to deny a religious property tax exemption it once granted for 2006. […] “This isn’t just for us, this is for all minority religions,” [Cathryn] Platine said. “They took on the wrong people this time and I don’t understand why they don’t just cut their losses.” Platine said the Maetreum has spent about $10,000 in legal fees fighting to preserve their property in Palenville with a “very, very reasonably priced attorney.” The town, Platine estimated, has spent over $50,000 on attorney fees to remove an exemption that would net the town less than $750 annually at the current town tax rate.

You can read more about this ongoing battle in the Wild Hunt’s archives.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!