J-School: Educating Independent Journalists

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Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays

Posted by chanders on December 22, 2006


This year, as part of its simultaneous rediscovery and denigration of all things ungodly, the New York Times Week in Review made the remarkable discovery that — *gasp* — atheists sometime put up Christmas trees. One can only assume that this festive decorating occurs in between biting the heads off babies and wallowing in the juices of personal self-loathing.

In true trickle-down-the-elite-media fashion NPR followed up the Times story with that hoariest of Holiday chestnuts, the "mixed faith" holiday celebration. "The Christmas Tree or the Menorah? Or both? For about 2.5 million families of mixed-faith marriages, the holidays are about respecting each other’s traditions and balancing the needs of their faiths." Gee, no one has ever asked that one before.

All of this, of course, begs the question: what happens when you’re part of a mixed "faith" household and that household’s "mixed faith" is  more a cultural mixture than anything religious (I won’t let the "agn" word slip out here, but you’re welcome to infer whatever you like) …  Should we expect ritual child sacrifice under the Hanukkah Bush? Or the molesting of defenseless farm animals?

I could just direct you to the blog of my friend Chris Fleisher for one answer. Or I could tell you that the first time I brought home a Christmas Tree (as a surprise) still probably ranks as one of the most romantic things I think I’ve ever done.

Or, I could leave you with some random best wishes from this solstice-y, globally-warmed Holiday season. May the time spent with your family bring out the best parts of spending time with family, not the worst. May your year ahead be better than the one you’re leaving behind.  Happy Hanukkah. Peace on Earth. And Merry Christmas.


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AMC in Bowling Green: Panel Four, Independent Media in New Orleans

Posted by chanders on June 24, 2006

From the Panel Overview:

Independent Media Responses to Katrina

panelists: Mayaba Liebenthal, Critical Resistance New Orleans; Jordan Flaherty, Left Turn Magazine; Royce Osborn, National Black Programming Consortium. moderator: Nijmie Dzurinko, Philly IMC Media Mobilizing Project

Corporate media coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the government response to the disaster has been much analyzed. But what of independent media’s coverage of the disaster? How has independent media responded to the human rights crisis in the Gulf Coast? Has this response effectively supported demands for justice and accountability? How do we prepare for the next major disaster and for the ongoing Katrina of racism and poverty in the US?

What has not been good with regard to Independent Media Making? Indymedia New Orleans has not worked very well. All in all, much of the independent media making in N.O. has been of the reportorial variet, rather than allowing people in the city to document and tell their own stories.

What has worked? Jordan says that there’s really nothing wrong with people just coming down and doing their stories, but there’s more that can be done. Media makers need to be accountable to the communities there, and what that means is to be accountable to the community groups.

Some discussion of the non-profit industrial complex and its role in New Orelans.

The "pornography of disaster" in some New Orleans media making.

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AMC in Bowling Green: Panel One, Is This What Democracy Looks Like?

Posted by chanders on June 24, 2006

I’m at the Allied Media Conference in Bowling Green for the third year in a row … and somewhat (though not entirely) sadly, the last one to be in Bowling Green  for at least a while (it’s moving to Detroit). Instead of live blogging the entire thing, I figured I’d take some notes in interesting panels and post them more or less verbatim. If anyone from the conference is reading this, please remember that these are my off the top of my head notes … they may not be entirely complete or exact. Feel free to comment or correct me in the comments.

Panel One: Is This What Democracy Looks Like?

From the descrip[tion: We are moving into a new era of participatory communications – cell
phone cameras, blogs, myspace, YouTube – where the line between media
producer and consumer is disappearing. In that sense, part of the
independent media mission has been accomplished. Yet with all of this
access and direct interaction, we seem to be living in an increasingly
undemocratic society with worsening racism and class oppression. This
panel will examine new models for media activism that go beyond
reporting to the integration of media and organizing in the movement
for social justice.

Shivaani Selvaraj, Philly IMC Media Mobilizing Project
Francesca Fiorentini, WRL / Left Turn
Susana Adame, Radical Women of Color Bloggers, INCITE! Network
Betty Yu, MNN

Moderator: Joshua Brietbart

What was the problem with independent media you identified before you began your media work, and how have you tried to fix it through the work you’ve been doing?

Selvaraj: Media mobilizing project, closed collective within the Philly IMC. Still quite new, still trying to figure out how to talk about what we’re doing.

No one who is at the core of this project has a history of doing IMC work; prejudice against Indymedia, have had bias against it: “white, isolated from the people and issues I’ve chosen to care about.”

Doing this project within IMC was both accidental and deliberate. Inheriting an Indymedia history yet trying something new.

Closed collective within an open structure ‡ “energizing tension.”

Adame:  Blogging: Seems to be the perfect place to create safe spaces for women of color … yet, blogging is not a blank medium, there is actually a really strong structure there that women of color have had to fight against and battle against; there are not “no rules” … cultural structures and rules are very much in place.

Fiorentini: Going beyond reporting. Why does the term reporting seem awkward to Left Turn? LT does not consider itself a media outlet that much. Not coming from a journalism background, and the workers at LT are not worried about being journalists so much.

Reporting ‡ Distances the subject and the object. The reporter is not the reported upon … the reporter swoops in and observes. Print media is especially difficult, because there are established print magazines that can be very exclusive.

Left turn creates a space for intra-movement dialog … also very difficult to set up in a print media context.

Yu: MNN / Save Access Coalition. Schism between media justice activists, independent media makers, and social justice organizing. Also, there is no accountability of independent media makers to their community.

Additional problem with the save access campaign ‡ too inside the beltway. Need affected communities to take control of the public access fight.

Breitbart: Themes.

1. How independent media can come from communities and be accountable to them?

Brietbart: Creating space? How do we redefine space?

Adame: How did white male culture create the blogging culture and technology that excludes women of color? Example:
a. Linking. Paradox. No one links to alternate perspectives; either established communities or the communities themselves, and when there is linking there is usually an influx of hate mail, etc.
Create a bloc. More than a “single individual of women of color” (the lone individual  needed to change and challenge these perspectives.

Some discussion about how to balance the need to be inclusive and how to balance the needs of individual communities. “Need to center our experiences.”

Space within the blogosphere.

*** Nubian (find this blog): I’m not going to change what I have to say just because I want to “appease white supremacy.”

Shivaani: Philly IMC Media Mobilizing Coalition is half white and half people of color.

Media is only a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. Media for what? Information for what?

Why do women of color not blog? “I don’t have anything to say.”

Chris’ Comments:

Theme: Retrenchment and re engagement.

Women of color, social justice organizers are facing a system that promises an “unlimited freedom” that can lead to justice; nevertheless, the freedom of the digital internet is not unlimited and may paradoxically be responsible for larger inequalities. Some form of reorganization is needed, whether in “reality” (MMC within Philly) or virtual within the internet. Once some form of internal solidarity has been achieved, there can then occur a process of re-engagement?

Chris: But how and when do the re engagement half of the equation occur? What happens if one occurs and not the other?  Which is more important?

Susana answers: I had a long dialog with someone on my site who called himself “poor white boy” and who portrayed himself as totally opposed to what we were saying. The key in dealing with, dialoging with, and in some productive way coming to terms with him was:

1. Having white allies who constantly engaged this guy and got him to a point where we felt like had something in common with us – ie, poverty.
2. Could then utilize our strong, organized POC community to continue the conversation.

a. this could never have occurred offline
b. this also never could have occurred without being organized in the way that they already were online

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In Orbit

Posted by chanders on October 21, 2005

Random thought after attending  "Re-Reading Personal Influence: Retrospects and Prospects 50 Years Later" conference: I live on accademic planet Mars. Take that for what you will.

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Now would probably be the time…

Posted by chanders on July 13, 2005

…to post something brilliant here to demonstrate to all the visitors from elsewhere that I’m more than just a one trick pony. But I feel like I’ve been in front of laptop all day (oh, wait. I have been.)  Perhaps I can try to sound smart tomorrow.

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Blog Set Up For 2005 NCMR

Posted by chanders on May 10, 2005

There has been a group blog set up for the National Conference on Media Reform 2005, in St. Louis, which I’ll be attending along with dozens of other of my compadres from the NYC Indy-media scene.  Not sure yet if I’ll be participating in the group blog yet, as I am currently sans laptop and may have trouble actually contributing anything. But it looks like it will be a hot spot for people to rant and rave about the conference. So check it out.

Also, the St. Louis Confluence, which is affiliated with the St Louis IMC, is putting out a special collaborative issue for the conference, with a special spread in which independent media makers sound off on their relatonship with the media reform movement. Here’s my entry:

Every progressive organization in the country, so the argument goes, should make national media reform its “second issue.” The success of other liberal reform efforts, it is argued, largely depend on re-democratizing an increasingly corporatized and commercialized media.

This argument is good one, and its resonance has led to the genesis of a nationwide movement for media democracy. That said, though, I would argue that there are other progressive groups who shouldn’t make Federal media reform their first issue, or there second issue …. or maybe not even their third or fourth issue. Ironically enough, those “other groups” include grassroots media activists and local community producers.

This isn’t to say that this burgeoning “independent media movement” should oppose federal efforts. Indeed, they should support them as best they can. But should they devote an excessive amount of organizational time and energy to national media reform efforts? No.

Grassroots media groups are, more often than not, extraordinarily fragile creatures—short on time and money, running largely on the fumes produced by political passion. To argue that these groups must do more on a policy level is to misunderstand both their ideals and the areas where they can be most effective.

Instead of worrying too much about the ins and outs of federal regulatory bodies, grassroots media groups should spend more time reaching out to their own constituencies—that is, downward, to the grassroots. Local community organizations, especially those addressing issues of race and poverty, are still woefully underrepresented in the independent media universe. The way to win these groups over to the cause of independent media production is not to turn our eyes to Capitol Hill; it is, instead, to go where the people are, to facilitate the narratives of the dispossessed. This kind of work isn’t easy. Indeed, it is often a grinding and depressing business. But it is vitally important.
Media reformers and independent media groups should work together when they can, and should always remember that they are allies in a long struggle. But they should also remember that they are, in many ways, quite different animals. And that’s ok

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A New Home

Posted by chanders on February 7, 2005

The academic half of my brain has started feeling more and more homeless recenetly. Its next door neighbor, the activist half, has plenty of places to go and have a great time: NYC Indymedia, The Indypendent Online, Indymedia US … But the part of me that’s a graduate student has noticed that more and more good ideas are starting to slip away into the between-books ether. I suppose thats why people used to keep journals.

Well, as seems appropriate for the brave new digitial era, I’ve started this little weblog so I can quickly post research ideas, thoughts on readings, personal anecdotes, etc. I dont think anyone will probably ever read it, but thats ok. For now, the only important reader is me.

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