The following is a work in progress.
Being independent can mean many things, but independence of thought may be most important. Creators of media, not just consumers, need to venture beyond their personal comfort zones.
Professional journalists claim independence. They are typically forbidden to have direct or indirect financial conflicts of interest. But conflicts of interest are not always so easy to define. Many prominent Washington journalists, for example, are so blatantly beholden to their sources, and to access to those sources, that they are not independent in any real way, and their journalism reflects it.
Independent thinking has many facets. Listening, of course, is the best way to start. But you can and should relentlessly question your own conclusions based on that listening. It’s not enough to incorporate the views of opponents into what you write; if what they tell you is persuasive you have to consider shifting your conclusion, too.