The Best Online-Only Publications According to Socialists

We’ve got 108 responses to our survey of online-only left-wing publications, and the results are intriguing!

This is the 2nd of a series of surveys by LeftTimes to help improve our news feed; the 3rd will cover left podcasts and the 1st covered left magazines. But stay tuned for an update! The left-magazine survey has another 200+ respondents since our blog post and the results have changed quite a bit!

Thank you to all our respondents. We hope you are having fun!

First, a few qualifiers:

  • Please note this survey is not random. It was distributed to our target audience, and respondents were self selecting. 78% identified as socialist and 76% identified as Marxist (with about 80% overlap between the two).
  • This survey included 66 online-only publications. It did not include online publications with print magazines as those were covered in our previous left-magazine survey.
  • 19 of the publications in this survey didn’t receive more than 15 ratings so we aren’t including them in the results. We are leaving all the surveys open so we can publish updates later.
  • Even with that 15-rating cutoff, interpreting the results is tricky due to some publications getting more ratings than others. In general, the less known a publication is, the more overly-positive the average rating appears to be.

Who’s “winning”? – Labor Notes & The Intercept

There were 6 publications that clearly were a cut above the rest, ranging from 4.2 to 3.8 stars on average. In order, they were:

  1. Labor Notes
  2. The Intercept
  3. People’s Policy Project
  4. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
  5. ProPublica
  6. It’s Going Down

This is a similar ballpark that our top 10 from the magazine survey came in. Rounding out the top 10 in the 3.6-3.7 star rating range, we have:

Other Noteworthy Performers

Coming in around 3.35 to 3.55 stars:

Who’s “losing”? – Daily Kos

The 8 lowest-rated publications, ending with the lowest, were:

  1. Canary
  2. Slate
  3. Salon
  4. Buzzfeed
  5. Huffpost
  6. Quillette
  7. Everyday Feminism
  8. Daily Kos

These ranged from 1.6 stars to 2.2 stars, which is particularly low given that the lowest in the magazine survey range from 2.1 to 2.5 stars (they’ve dropped half a star since we published that post… more about this in the next update).

Daily Kos received a scathing 1.62 stars from 79 respondents. This can be interpreted in two ways: both in terms of the low quality of work produced by DailyKos, as well as, socialists not taking kindly to the positions Daily Kos took on the 2016 primaries.

Anarchist Anomalies

In the first blog post, we discussed the Marxism divide among socialists and the variance in ratings that appeared to be producing. Here, we noticed some interesting patterns with people who self-identified as anarchists.

Overall, anarchists rated a publications much lower than everybody else. There were only two publications where anarchists rated them higher than others, and those were the two anarchist publications: It’s Going Down and CrimethInc. The noteworthy differences:

Publication

Anarchist Rating

Non-Anarchist Rating

It’s Going Down

4.08

3.49

CrimethInc

3.48

2.94

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

3.75

4.11

People’s Policy Project

3.73

4.19

Atlas Obscura

3.33

3.94

Aeon

3.33

3.81

Real News Network

3.24

3.59

Economic Policy Institute

3.08

3.76

Outline

2.92

3.43

Truthdig

2.62

3.12

Institute for New Economic Thinking

2.73

3.46

Ideologies and their Identity Politics

Anarchists in this survey really made a statement in this survey with 89% identifying as anti-racist.

This surprised us so much that we went back to our first survey to see what happened there (especially with all the new responses we received). It turns out that anarchists (and progressives!) have been a bit more likely to identify as anti-racist:

Ideological affiliation

% also picked anti-racism

Anarchism

76%

Progressivism

76%

Communism

70%

Marxism

67%

Liberalism

65%

Socialism

65%

And while ideological affiliations that have to do with racial, gender, and sexual identities show more solidarity for each other, notice the disparity in reciprocity.

Ideological affiliation

% also picked anti-racism

% also picked feminism

% also picked pro-LGBTQ+

Anti-racism

59%

65%

Feminism

84%

71%

Pro-LGBTQ+

83%

69%

For context, of all survey respondents, 61% identified as anti-racist, 46% as feminist, 47% as pro-LGBTQ+. Be careful reading into this though, because the ideological affiliations were listed alphabetically and anti-racism appeared 3rd.

Next up: Podcasts

If you enjoyed this blog post, then please take our next survey on left podcasts, or, add your voice to the left magazine and online-only publication surveys. We’ll be publishing updates to all of these surveys.  

We have already updated the LeftTimes algorithms as well, adding several new publications as a result of this survey. But don’t worry: we won’t let these dictate everything, but we want to know what our readers are thinking!

And if you haven’t yet checked us out, bookmark LeftTimes, or download our iOS or Android app.

Special thanks to William Dawley for helping with this survey and analysis.

The Best Political Magazines – According to Socialists

The results are in! We at LeftTimes ran a survey to improve our article recommendations, asking people to rate 65 left-of-center magazines.

We’ve got 94 responses so far and the results are quite fascinating!

First, a few qualifiers

  • This survey was distributed to some of our target audience, so you might call the respondents to this poll a self-selecting “judgment sample.” LeftTimes focuses on providing left-of-center readers (not liberals or conservatives) with high-quality journalism. As a result, 75% of our respondents identified as socialist.
  • We only included print magazines in the survey (no digital-only magazines). You can take our next survey on online-only left publications here.
  • 25 of the 65 magazines have gotten less than 15 ratings, so we aren’t (yet) including them in the summative results. We’re continuing to collect responses and will publish updates later.
  • We allowed people to identify with as many different political ideologies and interests as they wished.  

Who is winning? – Viewpoint Magazine

Viewpoint Magazine is the standout winner with an average rating of 4.6 stars!

The rest of the 10 all fall between 4 – 3.8 stars. In order, the top 10 are:

  1. Viewpoint Magazine
  2. The London Review of Books
  3. ROAR
  4. Monthly Review
  5. Current Affairs
  6. Boston Review
  7. In These Times
  8. N+1
  9. Jacobin
  10. New Left Review

The next best magazines all got less than 3.7 stars and thus are a bit behind this top tier group, at least on average (since our respondents seemed to disagree on many sources). A special mention goes out to Pacific Standard and Salvage, both of which are just shy of having 15 ratings and appear almost certain to make it into this top tier.

So if you know your political magazines, please take the survey! It’ll only take 3 minutes. With a bit more data we might be able to solidify these rankings. And feel free to share it with your groups (and tag us) to let us see what others think.

 

What surprised us most? – Baffler and Dissent

Baffler and Dissent only got an average of 3.6 and 3.5 stars, respectively. Now these are still quite respectable ratings, putting these mags at the top of the main pack along with the LA Review of Books, The Nation, New Inquiry, Catalyst, Z Magazine, and The Progressive. However, we were expecting them to make it into the top-tier category, and perhaps the top of it. Clearly, on average, the crowd we’ve reached so far disagrees with us.

 

Who is losing? – Ms. Magazine

The 10 lowest rated magazines (2.5 to 3 stars), ending with the lowest, were:

  1. The Atlantic
  2. New Statesman
  3. New York Magazine
  4. Mother Jones
  5. Rolling Stone
  6. New Republic
  7. Advocate
  8. Vice
  9. Jezebel
  10. Ms. Magazine

Note again that there isn’t uniform agreement with these bottom ten, or on most of the magazines. Both liberals and libertarians rate The Atlantic, Mother Jones, New Statesman, New York Magazine, Ms. Magazine and New Republic much higher than socialists.

 

The Best Bellwether: Atlantic Magazine

People’s opinion on The Atlantic appears to be the most predictive of their political affiliations and their ratings of other magazines.

Those that rated the Atlantic favorably were significantly more likely to identify with progressivism, liberalism, or the religious left. Meanwhile, those that rated the Atlantic unfavorably were significantly more likely to identify with Marxism, communism, anarchism or anti-imperialism.

Ratings of the Atlantic appear to be strongly correlated with ratings of the New Yorker, New Republic, Mother Jones, New York Magazine, and Ms. Magazine, and weakly correlated with ratings of Harper’s Magazine, The Nation, New Statesman, and Vice.

On the other hand, how respondents rated Atlantic appears to be strongly inversely correlated with ratings of Z Magazine, ROAR and New Left Review. However, this inverse correlation seemed weaker between ratings of the Atlantic and ratings of other left-wing magazines.

 

The Socialist Divide: Marxism

For socialists, affiliating with Marxism appears to be a significant dividing line. In the survey, 97% of Marxists identified as socialists; however, only 60% of socialists identified as Marxists.

These two groups were only able to agree on the quality of a handful of magazines, including Viewpoint, Baffler, In These Times, London Review of Books, Dissent, and Z Magazine. And while both groups were relatively down on the Atlantic and magazines like it, Marxists gave much lower ratings than non-Marxist socialists on average. Other major/interesting disagreements between these groups included:

Rating comparison 
Magazine Marxist Socialists Non-Marxist Socialists
Salvage 4.6 stars 3.0 stars
New Left Review 4.0 stars 3.6 stars
New Inquiry 3.9 stars 2.7 stars
International Socialist Review 3.3 stars 2.7 stars
Counterpunch 3.3 stars 2.6 stars
Catalyst 3.9 stars 3.7 stars
Jacobin 3.8 stars 4.3 stars
Current Affairs 3.9 stars 4.2 stars
The Nation 3.2 stars 4.1 stars

Note how even though Jacobin and Catalyst are affiliated magazines, non-Marxist socialists really love Jacobin, while Marxist socialists just think it is solid and actually slightly prefer Catalyst.

 

Next up: Survey on Online-Only Left Publications

If you enjoyed this blog post, then please take our next survey on online-only left publications.

We’ll publish the results again, and of course this will help us make LeftTimes even better! We have already updated the LeftTimes algorithms as well, adding several new publications as a result of this survey. But don’t worry: we won’t let these dictate everything, but we want to know what our readers are thinking!

And if you haven’t yet checked us out, bookmark LeftTimes, or download our iOS or Android app.

 

Special thanks to William Dawley for helping with this survey and analysis.

Being Political is a Duty

Like with recycling, people think being political doesn’t makes a difference. So nobody does it, and the world becomes garbage.

There is no meaningful caring about the world that doesn’t involve politics. I’m sorry, there just isn’t.  Yes, politics is unpleasant, it’s frustrating, it’s grueling, it takes immense time and energy –  and no, no you can’t get a free pass and not do it. Who said being good was pleasant or easy?  Yes it would be great if we lived in a world where we didn’t all have to be political, but we don’t get to choose what reality we live in. Most people in the world would happily trade places with someone who had the luxury of thinking that “maybe politics isn’t for me.”

Reading the news is like washing your hands

When I say you should be political, I don’t mean following red vs. blue. I mean that you should be reading the news (global through local), and that you should stand up for what is right. In the total space of global politics (governments, militaries, economies, climates etc.) the donkey vs elephant duel is no more than an act in a circus show. The only reason it matters is because it passes for politics in the most powerful country in the world. And thus, what the clowns say actually ends up defining the planet’s trajectory.

It’s not that you aren’t interested in politics because American politics is a joke. It’s that American politics is a joke because you aren’t interested in politics.

If all Americans started reading the news, then our political system would fix itself. The problem isn’t corruption. The ignorance of the American people is what has allowed our government to corrupt. The problem isn’t evil either. Most Nazi, KKK, and ISIS members think they are doing good. It is their ignorance that makes them misguided. 

Ultimately, good intentions do not have much to do with good beliefs or good actions.

The problem is disinterest and apathy. If you aren’t stopping the spread of bad beliefs, you are aiding their dissemination. When bad beliefs go unchallenged, they are validated. This is how bullying worked in middle school – this is how politics works in adulthood. The best protection against bad beliefs is knowledge. Your good intentions are irrelevant.

If you aren’t informed, you can’t know right from wrong.

If you think doing good is giving gays conversion therapy, think again. If you doing good is donating to the Red Cross to help Haiti earthquake victims, think again. If you think doing good is preaching abstinence for teens, think again. If you think doing good is fighting all GMO’s, think again.

If you think you can do good without being steeped in politics, think again, odds are you are doing more harm than good.

It is extremely difficult to do real good. The world is just too complex. You need to know how the world functions to know how your actions will affect it. Limiting your political knowledge to just the industry that you work in isn’t enough – everything is interconnected. Problems do not exist on their own. All problems have their roots in other problems, and one of the most fundamental problems is widespread ignorance.

To be a real citizen of the world, you have to learn about everything. This is a lifelong process; it never ends. But don’t let that discourage you. The worst thing you could do is not start. It is never too late to immerse yourself in the world and treat everyone else’s problems as though they are your own (which they are).

Just read the news every day. Reading the news is like washing your hands. It’s basic hygiene that helps prevent the spread of diseases. 

I don’t believe that for people to do their political duty they need to change jobs or start protesting in the streets. All you need to do is read the news every day (5-10 minutes is enough) and then participate in discourse. Participating doesn’t even require arguing with people. You could just like and share articles on Facebook. That is enough.

The way to change the world is to change people’s minds. American politics isn’t broken due to corruption or evil; it is broken because of ignorance and apathy. So please, for your sake and for mine – please start reading the news. Start caring about politics. Start caring about what happens to everyone else in the world. Caring isn’t a feeling or belief; it is an action. So act. Make politics a habit in your daily life.