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actions & protests | alternative media | media criticism a22: bush protest

The Oregonian and Mass Media seek out and Interview PDX Indymedia about A-22

On Friday 8.23.02 Janie Her from the Oregonian attempted to contact the Portland IMC to discuss our coverage of and involvement in the protest. She was unable to contact anyone at the number and so called the global people. The message made its way to me and I was on it.
"You guys were the source for the protest!" says the Oregonian

I spoke with Janie Her from the Oregonian on Friday (8/23). This is my recalling of the question and answer period, but if you ask me questions below I can further elaborate and remember specifics, we spoke for a while. Her questions fell into a few camps

1. Who's running the show
2. Who set up the protest?
3. Who made trouble?
4. What the heck are you people?


The woman was very nice and kind, which got me on my guard. The whole time I stressed the fact that there isn't any official organ or voices of PDX Indy Media and I am speaking only as a contributor and volunteer.

She really pushed the first question. She asked me who we are, who are the leaders, who keeps it going, how do we make our money. I stressed that we the people are the media and though we have some volunteers, the vast majority of the posts are by participants rather than journalists in the true sense. The volunteers are those who mess with html, servers, and other various basic functions that maintain the site [sort of sexy activist janitors or something].

She really wanted me to say that a bunch of militant anarchist activists who organized the protest and set the mood of the event. The actual question was as follows, I told her that we presented a community forum whereby activists could have a place for organizing, planning, and meeting. She said "But you didn't just provide a medium for the community, you actually shaped the protest didn't you?" However, I would not yield. I said something like, no that's not correct. We provided web space where protest organizers could freely post but we didn't mastermind the thing. Though some of us took part in the planning meetings, it was solely as individuals and not as anything official. Moreover organizations often do their own press work via our site, and they are media in the pluralistic sense but not the official sense [namely because there isn't an official sense]. I then added that we take part in various external events as people do and since the open publishing policy holds it isn't media posting but rather regular people, witnesses, commentators, and anyone who comes in contact with or wishes to express the various experiences they had at whatever place they are. I said that depending on the flux of people involved we could be a right wing vanguard press, it is all up to the posters. We are the media, etc.

With the protest organization questions [which there were many of, maybe 3-5 questions coming up again and again, I wasn't saying what she wanted] I think she had the impression that we did it all. So I informed her that Indy Media was the medium for public discussion, and that the public utilized the space as the public. I said that various community members and activists spearheaded the groups. I added that we did participate, just like we do at all the events we attend, but not as "official" Indy Media organs, because there aren't any, but as individual citizens.

She asked me if we thought that people came to make trouble or were mostly peaceful. I gave a hard-line response to this. I told her that I haven't yet witnessed an altercation, which is true in my limited experience, where the protesters instigated violent action. I have only seen police attacking people to intimidate and abuse protesters. I said that as humans, sections of the population are prone to poor anger management tactics when they are attacked violently. Nevertheless the police know this and use it as a tactic to justify more repressive measures to crush opposition. This is a repeat offence by the police, and we see it again and again. Some recent posts have complicated my view and I think that we all have thinking to do about the subject, both on the level of practice and theory.

She asked where are money comes from. I told her that we don't receive money and hence aren't an active NGO-tax collecting body. She asked me, for god knows what reason, whether there is a central server. I explained that I wasn't qualified to answer that and she should ask tech.

I also brought up that this is a global movement of autonomous local Indy-medias located in cities around the world, with a little help from our global provider.

There is a lot we spoke about, prod me and I will spit it out.

More notes on the corporate media: On the CNN report of A-22 and the AP coverage there are latent references to Portland media and other vague references to us. The Oregonian was amazed at our coverage and called it the source. Given the explicit attacks via porn, spam, and viruses the day of [also the loss of connection for 12 hours or so] it is clear that some other forces think we are worthy target of attack. It could be CoIntelPro, Intelligence, or hard core right wing/hate radio listeners. Who knows? It doesn't matter much anyway.

The lesson to be learned is that we are on the verge of a great movement! The massive support of alternative media and distrust of corporate media [globally, locally, and at the protest] indicates the perfect time to persuade Portlanders, and set the stage for the rest for the rest of the country and world, to support and convert to independent non-corporate media. It is a long road but now is the time to act. I am starting to work for a coalition of independent press, radio, television, and web resources for Portland. We discussed it at the editorial meeting and others urged that it is a good idea that has surfaced but never acted upon. If you are a local press source, or are interested feel free to contact me or get started on bringing us together in a coalition to take back the media!

Also look forward to the NAB [national association of broadcasters, an evil massive media group, see the global Indy Media site] meeting when Portland alternative media groups unite to fight the corporate oligarchy's grip on the nation. It is in Seattle from sometime around the 15-17ish.
Letter to the Oregonian 25.Aug.2002 02:26

bush was not elected

I wrote a letter (email, actually) to the Oregonian and received what I consider to be a fairly thoughtful response.



Here is my original letter:

"I am writing to protest the wording of your recent article regarding the peaceful demonstrators downtown. You arrogantly belittled the demonstrators by saying that they had gathered to "taunt" our president. In fact, they were there to try to draw attention to a wide range of issues being completely ignored not only by the Bush administration, but by profit-driven "news" institutions like yourselves.

You also stated that rubber bullets had not been used in "recent memory" against demonstrators, but if you had simply searched your own database you would have found that rubber bullets were fired at peaceful demonstrators here on May 1, 2000.

Why do you in the mainstream media of our country continue to arrogantly dismiss the concerns of millions of our citizens who would simply like to express their views to our "elected" representative? Mr. Bush is wrong about the environment, logging, war, tax cuts for the ruling class and a host of other issues. He is a shameful product of corrupt corporate politics, and no person or media organization with any integrity should ever misrepresent the facts for his benefit.

The demonstrators were there to express their views, not to "taunt." Your bad phraseology exposes your implicit approval of [t]his illegitimate regime."




Here's the response from public editor Dan Hortsch:


"Thank you for writing. i am gathering the various comments on the reporting on the Bush visit, protests, police actions, etc., to get a better view of the whole. I do think that your explanation as to why demonstrators were there is overly broad, just as implying that all demonstrators were there to taunt the president is overly broad. The range of demonstrators and causes and their actions was a great one (a story the day of the visit, as I recall, did a good job of describing who planned to be demonstrating and why, something harder to do in describing the actual events).

I do thank you for your comments. I am reading and considering all of them and plan to report to editors on them."




Here is my reply to his response (sorry this is getting so long!):


"Mr. Hortsch -

I thank you for your thoughtful reply to my little rant, although I disagree with your assessment that I was "overly broad" in describing the demonstrator's intentions. Saying, as I did, that they were there to draw attention to a wide range of issues is a broad statement, yes, but not "overly" broad, especially as you say the very same thing - 'The range of demonstrators and causes and their actions was a great one.' With some people, there were concerns about the environment, or labor rights - others were simply expressing their dissatisfaction with Mr. Bush. But, whatever the issue, the underlying commonality of the day was those demonstrator's wishes to express their opinions. That is not, in my opinion, an overly broad assessment of the situation.

In terms of the reporting on the actual day, what you say is correct, that it was more difficult that day - when the Portland police were indiscriminately pepper-spraying and shooting (with rubber bullets) demonstrators, passers-by and the media - to thoughtfully report on people's concerns. You in the media should be particularly outraged when the police, in full riot gear, treat as criminals people who are doing nothing wrong, even members of the press! The camera personnel from the local broadcast station who were pepper-sprayed DIRECTLY IN THE FACE (not simply caught up in the crowd) can attest to how hard it is to cover a peaceful protest representing a broad range of issues when they are being assaulted by taxpayer-funded thugs! I hope that The Oregonian helps to shed some light on why people cannot peacefully demonstrate in this city without being harassed by the police, because if the police were not inciting violence at these events, the media could attend and not have any problems giving our community and the world a complete overview of all sides of the story (I suspect you'll think I'm being too broad in that assessment as well!).

Again, thanks for reading and responding. It's nice to know that there are still some thoughtful human beings left out there!"



I hope all of you out there have also written a letter to the Oregonian (and to pretty much anyone else you can). I posted this because, although Mr. Hortsch clearly disagrees with me, he did respond in a thoughtful way, admitting that their use of the word "taunt" was wrong. Hopefully he will bring this up when reports to the higher-ups.

If any of you have any good letters you've written I'm sure we'd all like to see them...

how to write to the oregonian ? 25.Aug.2002 02:47

Yoyo yawnootz@yahoo.com

Thank you to the person who shared their correspondence with the Oregonian editor.
Did you write an actual letter or did you just send an email?
Would you post the email address? I would like to write to share my experiences of the protest too.

You should be Careful Answering Questions! 25.Aug.2002 03:06

Cointelpro Fool

To Todd:

You should always be very careful in giving out information to the mainstream media. Some of the questions asked by "Janie Her" from the Oregonian sound like questions a cop of an FBI agent would ask, not a reporter.

For example, why would someone from the Oregonian give a damn whether you had a "central server" or not? What business is that of theirs--unless of course they are planning a cyber attack on Portland Indymedia.

Another issue is her question about where you get your money from. Again this question seems like something a cop would ask in order gather intelligence on Portland Indymedia.

It seems to me that Janie Her and the Oregonian became interested in Portland Indymedia not only because of the coverage you offered on the protest but also because they believe that you are somehow a key protest leader or movement organizer--and hence, deserve greater scrutiny from the powers that be, if you know what I mean.

Indeed, as you yourself wrote, Janie Her "really pushed the first question. She asked me who we are, who are the leaders, who keeps it going, how do we make our moneyShe asked me who we are, who are the leaders, who keeps it going, how do we make our money." Was Janie Her interested in interviewing you for a newspaper article--or engaged in intelligence gathering activities?

By the way, did you verify that Janie Her is who she says she is? Did you verify that Janie Her in fact does work for the Oregonian--as opposed to say the Portland Police department, or some Right Wing political group?

>There is a lot we spoke about, prod me and I will spit it >out.

Umm... I am not saying that Janie Her is a cop. But I would suggest that Portland Indymedia be more careful in giving out information in the future. By the way, Todd, can I ask you what is your credit card number? ;)

IndyMedia shines During Portland Protests 25.Aug.2002 07:00

Anonymous

I really believe that the important news story is how well IndyMedia performed over the last few days. It is the only source of good information about what happened. It highlights how morally bankrupt are the major news outlets.
It inspires me to get more politically active.

Thanks to IndyMedia, I am about to cancel my subscription to the local Newspaper, which so misrepresented the Portland news, and yesterday I declined to sign up for a cheap subscription to the San Jose Mercury News. From now on I get all my news from the Web.

Bush's policies simply will not work when the internet allows information to move freely. I believe that I read yesterday that the White House has opened a position for a person to curtail freedoms on the internet. We should expect yesterday's phone call to IndyMedia to be the first attack on Portland's IndyMedia. Expect the IRS to come calling to audit someone's books. Expect to have your ports scanned and other security attacks to happen on this web site. Expect various recent (Patriot Act) or obscure laws to be invoked to try to shut down this organization.
Be very careful not to violate copyright rules.

Paranoia is a great idea. Work as cells. Do not give out information as to who is in each cell. Have one person be your spokesman, much like Peta, have it be a person who does not even know how to contact the other members. Have a back up plan. Know that all your emails to each other are being tracked by the government. Same for phone calls.
If portland.indymedia.org is taken down by a government attack, then have a second cell, preferably offshore, ready to fire up a backup portland.indymedia.org.

Divide up responsibilities. Have backups on all resources, so that no single point of failure will disable this service. Plan for the worst. Hope for the best.

And remember that the Constitution protects your freedom of speech, and your freedom of association, and the courts are liable to support you in this matter. In this case it is the government which is way out of line.

One last question. Why did the service go down for 12 hours the other day?

Thanks Todd 25.Aug.2002 10:31

heck

It sounds to me like you did an great job reflecting indymedia's role in the event. I really respect that you didn't blame or scapegoat the more confrontational folks as the corperate media has. I've heard from friends that these "confrontational" protesters in some cases stood in the way of violent cops. I've personaly been attacked by cops for un-arresting people and have seen other black blockers do this on occasion. So thanks.

reply 25.Aug.2002 11:40

deva

re:cointelpro fool

Janie Har does work for the oregonian, at least her name is on the oregonian article from yesterday.

re:anonymous

the site was down for 12 hours through the night, and then again for a couple hours the next day. there is currently no concern from the tech people that this is the result of outside attack, but rather internal problem due to heavy use of the site.

re:in general

portland indymedia has nothing to hide as such, however, it is important to answer questions clearly, because those questions, whether from U.S. intelligence, or a media person, reflect an understanding of human social structure that is seen everywhere in society, but not applicable to indymedia.

indymedia did not help organize the A22 protest. . .indymedia editorial contributors simply collected together info that the people posted to the site. it is the community as a whole, which helped organize the protest.

likewise, there is no spokesperson for indymedia. any individual is free to speak their views and opinions regarding indymedia (as i am doing here). how can anyone speak for indymedia, when indymedia itself is hard to define? who is indymedia? the tech folks who keep the website up and running, but generally have little to do with content? the wide range of people who post? all the many thousands of readers?

indymedia is a community response to the dominating control and propaganda lies of the corporate media.

Dangerous Messages 25.Aug.2002 13:39

hatetheoregonian

We should all be very cautious of speaking to the mainstream press. No matter how eloquent, how detailed, how specific we make our comments, no matter how much we emphasize that we're only speaking for ourselves, that reporter (or that reporter's editor--they don't really have much control in the end) will take a few sound bites and form them to construct whatever message fits the article. Usually, this results in our movement looking violent and divisive, perpetuates the anarchy=chaos mythology, and takes us totally off-topic. Far better that, if talking to the press at all, we stay firmly on "why we hate George Bush," for example, and far away from who/what creates our tactics.

reply (my third attempt) 25.Aug.2002 18:44

todd

It won't let me post today.

Deva answered the questions well for me. One thing I would like to say is that we need not be too worried, though we should of course be careful. Even if they arrested or murdered every volunteer here, the majority of the posters would be unphased and with a nod from Global or on their own accord and with a little webspace it would be back again. It isn't the name or the site that is important, rather the idea of independent media. They can't stop that and its strength will increase with our own strength. This is why it is important to stres the lack of hierarchy and formal positions. All indymedia is is readers, posters, html people, tech people, more volunteers, and a vision of reclaiming the media.

That isn't to say that I am not paranoid about the feds. I am, but I won't let it control me, harm me, or inhibit me. For the sake of honesty and for the reasons above I believe in openness. It would be different if the FBI showed up on my doorstep, then I would say nothing what so ever. That is of course a different situation though.

Who is Janie Her? 25.Feb.2006 01:59

Sixpack wabc@mutualaid.org

I worked at the Oregonian Publishing Co. on Broadway, starting when they tore out the old presses in that building,around 1979, opening the way for more innovative printing in the "new" building. I was familiar with the editors and staff, assorted photographers and copy-kids who ran errands, for both the Oregonian and the Journal (now defunct)

For the life of me, I can not recall this person you speak of.

I recall several women, Kathleen Blythe, Margie Boule, Joanie Carlin,Anna Griffin, Mary Kitch, Ann Portal, Gail Hulden, Karen Black, Katy Muldoon...Just NO Janie Anybody!

You night be right, it was a "poser", fishing for info. Nice job!

Sixpack