When I first entered Congress almost 20 years ago, there was no such thing as e-mail, and if you wanted to get a message out to the public, you had one of four major TV networks to choose from.
Today, e-mail is on the brink of becoming passé, and your choices for communicating with the public range from four TV networks and six cable news channels to a thousand blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and whatever social media outlet is six weeks away from becoming the next new thing.
While this has made life infinitely more complicated for my communications director, it has also made the world a more democratic place. Nowadays you don't need to be a senator or a CEO or a celebrity to have a voice in the media, and if you happen to be a senator, a CEO or a celebrity, you have a thousand people each with their own respective audiences to hold you accountable. And as we all have come to learn only too well, there are plenty of senators and CEOs (maybe not celebrities) that need badly to be held to account.
It is in this new media ecosystem that we wage our national debates over critical issues like health care reform, global warming, the war in Afghanistan and the collapse of the American middle-class. In this complex and exciting landscape, democratic debate isn't just a two-way street, it's five intersecting eight lane highways.
Now more than ever, we need the kind of robust debate that the Internet makes possible. The right wing has monopolized the AM radio airwaves. The top-ranked cable news channel in the country is a surrogate for the Republican National Committee. A handful of huge corporations own almost all of the networks, cable news channels and major newspapers in the country. Even the alternative weekly newspapers, traditionally a bastion of progressive thought and analysis, have been bought by a monopoly franchise and made a predictable shift to the right in their coverage of local news.
In this consolidated media market, as one of the strong progressive voices in the Senate, I have been extremely fortunate to have friends that share my values at The Huffington Post, Think Progress, Buzz Flash, Daily Kos, Open Left, Firedoglake, OpEdNews, Crooks and Liars, Brave New Films and many other blogs and news sites. As the traditional media have become increasingly intent upon marginalizing progressive Americans as a fringe curiosity, I and other progressive thinkers and activists have had an alternative means online to speak our minds to a large and growing audience.
That's why I'm excited to announce that I'll be joining the online media world myself with my own weekly show, called "Senator Sanders Unfiltered." Produced by Brave New Studios and debuting today at sandersunfiltered.com, "Senator Sanders Unfiltered" will allow me to speak directly to you about the major issues facing our country - issues which impact the lives of ordinary Americans but which are often ignored or downplayed by the corporate media. And because this is the Internet, I'll be able to hear from you as well. My show will begin each week with a video question from a viewer, solicited over Twitter (submit here). Follow 'SandersShow' on Twitter or join my Facebook page to get in touch with me.
This is an exciting new step in using the Internet to shorten the distance between the public and its elected officials. I'm proud to be part of getting it underway.