BUILDING INDEPENDENT MEDIA 2
A Call to Converge on October 10-11, 2003 In Burlington, Vermont
Next Organizing Committee Meeting: Thursday, June 26
Burlington Area (Location TBA)
Business elites and unresponsive leaders have been building an international corporate establishment for decades. Since 2001, however, the door has been opened for something even more dangerous -- a repressive "superpower" that borders on the fascist. The new freedom of intelligence agencies and police to tap phones, seize records, detain innocent people, and disrupt legitimate opposition is just part of a vast and disturbing new development -- a sophisticated apparatus of state repression that poses a clear and present danger to basic rights.
Meanwhile, weapons of mass distraction, including most of the mainstream news media, are being used to spread false information and destructive myths. Against all obvious evidence, for example, they continue to tell us that capitalism promotes competitive free enterprise rather than monopoly power, and that mega-corporations are a constructive force for development rather than engines of exploitation.
And since September 11, 2001, these standard approaches to mismanagement of public perceptions have been reinforced by an epidemic of self-censorship and convenient reality distortion. Disinformation, which spreads across the planet, has especially taken hold in the US. The recent decision of the FCC to remove monopoly restrictions on media ownership will only make matters worse.
In short, corporate media's role as instrument of propaganda is clearer than ever. From distorting the message of protests and disguising the true impacts of "free market" capitalism to "dis-informing" the public about the loss of basic rights and US imperial ambitions, many outlets have become even more sensational and biased in the last few years.
TIME TO CONVERGE
The need for independent media able bring out suppressed information and stimulate informed debate on critical issues facing the world is more urgent than ever. Powerful and effective ways must be found to counteract the extremist junta that is attempting to remake the world for the benefit of its corporate cronies.
Where to start? Computers, the Internet, video, community radio, independent newspapers, and related new technologies offer opportunities for resistance and empowerment. Activists opposing war and corporate globalization across borders already use independent radio, online, and print outlets to help advance a movement for global justice and democracy. But with so many issues, challenges, and potential strategies -- and yet limited resources -- we need better coordination and clearer priorities.
That's why it's time to converge, to break down barriers and provide mutual support. To that end, plans are underway to hold Building Independent Media 2 in October, 2003, a follow up to the successful 2000 gathering. The idea is to have progressive media workers gather over a weekend to share experiences, examine the current media environment, discuss alternatives, and continue building a movement for media democracy. Burlington City Hall has already been reserved, but many other important decisions lie ahead.
First, consider a few hopeful signs:
* Independent Media Centers now operate in communities around the world
* A new generation of "alternative" newspapers is building an economic base while recapturing the commitment of an earlier era.
* Defying FCC inaction and congressional sell outs, micro radio stations continue to pop up.
* Platform web sites help to create networks of independent publications and other media
* A progressive information distribution infrastructure, with projects that link the local to the global, is taking shape.
In other words, there are alternatives to corporate globalization, political repression, and media monopoly. Some exist already, and more can be created. Independent and community-based media -- newspapers, radio stations, films and videos, public access channels, newsletters, and magazines -- are where we explore public problems and discover solutions, discussing the issues that affect our lives. Using new tools, we can work more cooperatively to open up the debate. We can also mirror the values of the society we want to create --- participatory, democratic, sustainable, and open.
The October conference is part of the ongoing Independent Media Convergence Project (IMCP), which brings together activists, advocates, and progressive media workers. The goals of the project are to provide opportunities to share experiences and develop alternatives; to connect issues like globalization, war, civil liberties, and the current media environment; to develop a common agenda; and to further a sustainable movement for media democracy.
Since its launch in 2000, IMCP sponsors have included Toward Freedom, Project Censored, Vermont's IMC (launched after the 2000 conference), Burlington (VT) Mayor's Office, Champlain Valley Labor Council, American Friends Service Committee, the Vermont chapter of the National Writers Union, Peace and Justice Center, the Media Channel, Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting, Between the Lines (radio), Green Mountain Veterans for Peace, Old North End Rag, The Watchman, New Hampshire Peace Action, Real Democracy Project, Peacework, Mass. Earth First!, the New Hampshire Social Justice Monthly, and others. More sponsors and endorsers are urged to step up.
In order for this conference to succeed, however, we need your active help. And we need it now. Important decisions about themes, workshops, keynote speakers, outreach, and logistics must be made in the next two months. To do that, we must have an engaged organizing committee. Making the basic decisions will probably require about three face-to-face meetings. Those unable to attend can be kept involved through e-mail, phone calls, and possibly a listserv.
Please consider joining the organizing committee now to help plan this year's event. Unfortunately, the first meeting was not well attended. Without sufficient involvement, an important opportunity could be lost.
The next meeting will be held in the Burlington area on Thursday, June 26. If that date is possible for you (and even if it isn't), please respond to the five questions below, and e-mail them to Info@TowardFreedom.com.
1. What is your name, phone number, e-mail address, and organizational affiliation(s)?
2. Can you participate in local organizing by attending a few planning meetings in Vermont this summer? ___
3. a.If yes, please select your preferred time for a June 26 meeting:
___4 p.m. ___ 7 p.m. (Other meeting dates will be set at that time.)
b. If no, but you do want to be involved, what method would work for you?
c. What would be the best weekday and time for you to attend meetings?
4. What topics or themes should be emphasized at the conference?
5. How can you help over the coming months?
___develop a workshop
___be a speaker
___do outreach and promotion
___join the Vermont organizing committee
___volunteering at the event
___make a donation.
Please respond now. And thanks for wanting to make Building Indy Media 2 a reality.