Examination of the WW article by Nick Budnick
Examination of the WW article by Nick Budnick
Reading the WW article this morning, the first thing i personally wish to say is that this indymedia here in portland has an excellent and diverse group of contributors. i encouraged Nick not to focus on me so much because it does a disservice to all the people who contribute. Particularly his approach of speaking only about myself and spArk and leaving everyone else as this shadow group presented as 'our clique' is insulting to the various people who contribute. They are intelligent, creative, have their own minds and make their own decisions. The people who regularly contribute to the functioning of indymedia are diverse in background, viewpoint and age and it has been an honor and a pleasure to work with them.
Nick refused to acknowledge that i am not a spokesperson for indymedia and neither is spArk. He did not mention that i asked not to have my picture taken and would have preferred they not use my picture (again) because it gives the impression that i am a spokesperson for indymedia. WW sicced two photographers on me to take a portrait photo and i refused both times. My views expressed are my own and not representative of the views of other contributors. There is no official indymedia view. All the content on the site, what is in videos and what people say on the street is the expression of an individual person.
Near the end of page 22 Nick writes - "Today however, strains are showing. Born of a utopian quest to combat censorship, pursue consensus and tell the truth, Portland Indymedia is finding that 'real firsthand life' is full of compromises.
Actually, a year ago, there were more strains and in the ensuing year the site has flourished. Portland indymedia has never been better. . .and no, Portland Indymedia is not finding that 'real firsthand life' is full of compromises. Nick may think that, and perhaps he has fundamentally compromised his life, but that is only his own projection and not the perception of the people contributing. Further i would add that indymedia is not born of a utopian quest and that people are more savvy than that and know that life is not perfect and are not expecting it to be.
Pdx indy is a solid and useful resource for the activist community that is growing and evolving. It is growing without taking advertising money. Nobody is taking financial gain. There is no boss. Real firsthand life is the ability to respond to the actual and changing circumstances in an intelligent, confident, open, flexible and self reflecting manner. This characterizes how pdx indy functions.
On page 23, 3rd column, 3rd paragraph Nick writes - "Although there has always been censorship of messages posted by cops and right-wingers..."
This is incorrect. The decision to hide (no post is ever removed from the site) posts termed 'spam' is a relatively new decision. Before that everything was left up there. There was alot of criticism of portland indy for leaving up posts by neo-nazi groups for example. A year ago i was myself critical of SF indymedia for aggressively hiding posts by spammers. Once the portland site reached a certain level of use and usefulness, those same spammers started hitting this site and i learned why SF had to take action. Likewise a year ago the general rough consensus amongst readers to the site was to not hide spam. As the spam increased and started to damage the usefulness of the site, indymedia contributors responded. The decision was taken with much discussion, and with much feedback from the broader community which by then had grown so tired of all the crap that the rough consensus had changed from don't hide to hide.
On page 23 3rd column, 2nd paragraph Nick writes - "The website is increasingly censored and because it embraces a quasi-anarchist credo, there are no standards and no accountability..."
This is false as well. There are standards and there is acountability. The very fact that Nick can go onto the hidden page and see everything that has ever been hidden and then ask questions and write about it shows there is accountability. He does raise a reasonable question about some posts that were hidden during the day of bombing and ensuing couple weeks of protest. However, he draws a distorted conclusion and paints a false picture. These things were already being discussed before Nick brought them up. Over the past month, there were 9000 posts (articles, comments and photos) to the site. Along with writing accounts, putting up features, and being on the streets covering those hectic weeks, people had the task of attending to the increased amount of spam to the site. Decisions were made with less time, with more fatigue and no doubt some posts need not have been hidden. Solutions to deal with these situations are already being implemented.
In a follow-up to the new site launch, new features such as one allowing each hidden post to list which admin user hid it will be implemented. Easier access to hide/unhide posts and an internal comment board to facilitate communication about such decisions will already be there in the intial launch.
Nick made no effort to find out this information, and he assumes the worst, and paints a false picture about the intent and integrity of the people working on the site.
Nick mentions that more moderate progressive voices are being censored, yet on the front page right now is a feature about preserving the reservoirs. Jim Lockhart, who in the article is criticizing pdx indy and suggesting it is no longer open, regularly posts to the site, and his good work is always moved into a center column feature. He is welcome to his critical opinion.
i might also add that there are more people, with a greater diversity, attending meetings now than ever before and that many people have characterized the meetings as welcoming and friendly and effective. Nick mentions nothing of the positive and open group dynamic nor the diversity of people who contribute. Even a small amount of open inquiry would reveal many such testimonials. Pdx indy also has a greater diversity of stories and views appearing in the center column than most other imc centers in the country.
Nick clearly has an axe to grind, which can be seen in his hunting down critical quotes from individuals who used to come to meetings (perfectly legitimate), but did not bother to get any quotes from the many people who currently do. In fact, Nick did not quote a single person besides spArk or myself even though the saturday meetings regularly bring as many as 20+ people to them. Quite a few of them are solid regular contributors who are giving their time and energy without any personal recompense except the satisfaction of doing something good and useful. He completely ignores all those people who deserve alot better from an article about indymedia.
On page 24, Nick writes about the Day X video and says indymedia is being manipulative by not showing the footage from the Steel Bridge in the video. Nick just assumed that and never asked. What he may not realize is that there was no footage from the Steel Bridge available to the editors of the piece. i was not up there, and only videotaped from a distance. Same with other videographers and repeated calls on the website for footage (particularly asking for footage from the Steel bridge exactly because it was an important moment) did not locate any.
Nick of course can post his article to indymedia, but i cannot print my reply in the WW. It is obvious which venue is open and which is not.
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