Henry Payne, Kathy Hoekstra, John Fund, Frank Beckmann and Ken Braun
Panelists Henry Payne, Kathy Hoekstra, John Fund, Frank Beckmann and Ken Braun.

For decades, free-market ideas were often ridiculed or ignored by the mainstream media. Now, the same new technologies that are breaking down the influence of traditional media are also allowing these principles to reach a wide audience.

On Oct. 21, the Mackinac Center joined forces with some of the most respected voices in Michigan to discuss this media revolution. The panel discussion, “The Alternatives: How New Media Are Transforming the Political Landscape,” featured some of the biggest names in free-market media: John Fund, Wall Street Journal columnist and Fox News contributor; Henry Payne, Detroit News editorial cartoonist and editor of TheMichiganView.com; Ken Braun, managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential; and Kathy Hoekstra, communications specialist at the Mackinac Center. WJR radio show host Frank Beckmann moderated the event at the Oakland County Commissioners Auditorium. Each brought a unique perspective on how the news media has been transformed by outlets such as talk radio, Fox News, The Drudge Report, state-based think tank reporting and online opinion sites. All agreed that new media have created a novel, freedom-oriented national infrastructure that has fed a starved market, diversified coverage and provided an alternative to the legacy media.

In the days leading up to the panel, Beckmann promoted the event on his radio program, and The Detroit News marketed the event with ads and billboards in the Detroit area.

In the spirit of “new media,” the panel itself was streamed live on the internet and promoted by some of Michigan’s most prolific political bloggers, Michigan Taxes Too Much and Theblogprof. Around 75 people attended the event in person, and more than 500 watched the live video feed online.

Before the event, Hoekstra interviewed Fund, a long-time political observer, on-camera about the elections in Michigan as well as the prospects for Congress. The 10-minute video was posted on YouTube and quickly picked up on Politico.com, one of the nation’s leading political websites.

Through hard-hitting investigative videos, the widely read daily news site Capitol Confidential, regular e-mail updates and other methods, the Mackinac Center is taking advantage of this new-media revolution. Free-market think tanks no longer rely on the atrophying traditional media — they are becoming the media.