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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.
Nick "no nads" Budnick 23.Apr.2003 13:07

John

Dear Nick,

Are you gonna' be like most opinion journalists, or will you instead address Deva's rebuttal? Yeah, that's what I thought. It must be tough dealing with the blow to your honor and dignity that's inflicted by having your innacurate tripe published. Or maybe you aren't capable of seeing yourself as you are?

John

Nick Buttlick Sux 23.Apr.2003 13:15

Right on, Deva

Nick Buttlick does, indeed, have an ax to grind and corporate sponsors to please. What I don't understand, though, is why Deva, did you choose to talk to him at all? We already knew this about Nick. He's a corporate whore, with no personal or journalistic integrity so far as I can see. I love you, Deva, so I'm sure you have a good reason for choosing to talk to him, but I'm perplexed as to what it could be. Please enlighten me if you care to.

Corporate media IS a disease, and trying to deal with it only spreads the germs.

Right On! 23.Apr.2003 13:29

PajamaMama

The tone alone of this post shows the author's highground over the swamp of Budnick's poor-me-prattle. I didn't even know there was some kind of fued going on until I read Budnick's piece in today's Willy, at which point I was disgusted with his childish self-obsession and manipulative use of subtle personal attacks, and as pointed out in Deva's post, melodramtic assumption.

IMC issues 23.Apr.2003 14:10

The Redcoat

I have had the opportunity and pleasure to work with, and sometimes against both Sparks
and Deva. I have attended most of the IMC Portland meetings over the past year and
have seen nothing like the controversy that Nick describes. Any disagreements I have
witnessed have been resolved in a civil manner. (Of course, they never have taken me out
to that secret shed in the back woods....) .
I think Nick was just looking for a controversy to publish, and ended up accepting gossip
and hearsay as fact.

Hide This! 23.Apr.2003 14:11

$

While the tone of my posts is often critcial, my language is never condemning or vulgar and the content has always been relevant to the topic. Yet my posts are often "hidden" simply because they were critical of methods used by some of the people who practice violent direct action. There are people here who remove posts that are rational yet critical, yet leave posts intact that promote violence or are plain hateful and nonsensical. Why don't you all just admit that you do censor people whose ideology is not consistent with "direct action" anarchy?

Oh and .. 23.Apr.2003 14:17

$

The author's point that there was no footage available from the Steel Bridge incident is a bit unbelievable. This event was covered widely, and even if there was no video footage available the producers of the 3/20 video at the very least could have included the critical information in a voiceover or even text. At the very least, you all should have known that the video, as it is, is inaccurate and would be perceived as denying the banner mob's role in provoking the police backlash that day.

thank you 23.Apr.2003 14:20

Hidalgo

deva -

Thanks for following up your earlier post with specifics and clarity. Dealing with Nick "No-nads" "Buttlick" (seriously? c'mon folks, grow up a little and stop playing the jr. high games) in this manner restores integrity a bit.

Roll On PDX Indy Media! 23.Apr.2003 15:00

Lars the Infidel

According to the Willamette Week:

"Even if you've never heard of Portland's Independent Media Center, known as Indymedia, you've seen its influence. Over the past month, anti-war protests in the Rose City have dwarfed those in neighboring Seattle in size, number and intensity.


On March 19, a featured article urged protesters to "block the corporate media" to protect those who might break the law. On the evening of March 20, streets, highways and bridges were blocked."


This, my friends, is what Portland Indy media is all about. Keep your eye on what's important: access and speed and fighting the bastards in PDX, Washington and around the world.

We are our own writers and editors and critical readers -- and we're doing a great fuckin' job!

name calling does not work 23.Apr.2003 16:38

green

I appreciate Deva's considered remarks and would welcome a response from Nick Budnick. If anything, even with or perhaps because of, the criticism of IndyMedia, the WW article will serve to solicit more interest in IndyMedia. What I think doesn't work is name calling. Calling Nick Budnick a corporate whore or worse only serves to make him defensive--anyone would be, and how does that serve the activist community? I read IndyMedia often and enjoy the diversity of views that Deva mentions, but I skip over or scan the ones that use derogatory statements or name calling. It is really hard if not impossible for anyone to respond to criticism when you are being belittled or insulted.

I have my own criticisms of WW but it is pretty much the only widely read and distributed (somewhat) alternative paper we have right now and wouldn't it be better to treat WW reporters with the respect we want them to treat us?

well, $ 23.Apr.2003 16:51

video volunteer

I did extensive work on Day X, the indy video collective's video of the day of bombing, and have spent a very long time talking to a very large number of people about the protests to piece together the video accurately.
I -am- saddened there wasn't footage available of the steel bridge clash.
why?

because some fucking cop hit a high school student with an overhand shot and sent him to the hospital.
and do you see that in the corporate media?
no.

banners being used to break police lines is nothing new, nothing shocking. pushing through police lines is a fairly standard, although confrontational, tactic.
I would have loved to have shown the steel bridge footage in the video, were it available. You didn't see the video shy away from showing the controversial broken mcdonalds windows, and you saw the video expose that someone broke the INS building's window [which, of course, the corporate media never mentioned. why? because people would secretely grin at the broken INS window, whereas the mcdonalds window seems unrelated]

a liberal responds 23.Apr.2003 18:07

Brian

This liberal is still waiting to be censored. I was part of that second consensus that argued that this IMC would either have to start hiding right-wing spam or be over-run by it. However, I appreciated that in Deva's response he admitted that an over-worked staff of volunteers could and probably had made mistakes. And then he talked about a proposal for higher accountability -- linking the person who hides a post to the hidden post.

I'm glad that Deva showed the respect towards Jim Lockhart that he deserves and I trust he and other will continue to reach out to those activists with whom they have had issues in the past or continue to have issues with.

I hope that those who are attending all the meetings are not blinded by their success thus far, to the greater success this site can have if it continues to reach out to the entire progressive community.

Calling it as I see it 23.Apr.2003 18:20

CatWoman

Nick Buttlick is, in fact, a corporate whore. I see no reason to censor that fact for "green" or anyone else. Nick does not tell the truth. He is a parasite who intentionally slants stories for his corporate host organism. He knows it, and I know it, so why not say it out loud.

As for the Day X video, I, too, helped with that. No, $ and Buttlick, there was no footage available of that event other than what you saw on the screen. Repeated requests did, indeed, go out on this site and elsewhere for such footage. But none was forthcoming. You state, "at the very least [you] could have included the critical information in a voiceover or even text." Why? What's to be critical of? (Other than the police crackdown, and there's already plenty of that.) The reason we wanted footage of that event was not to be "critical," it was to show what happened. In fact, what happened as far as I can tell was that some protesters heroically faced down heavily armed police officers. As Video Volunteer notes, a high school student was beaten in the head by cops and required medical care. Yet the corporate news ignored that story and instead concentrated on a police officer who received a similar injury.

The mainstream media first reported that the cop was hit with a baseball bat, wielded by a protester. Only later did they report that he was, in fact, hit with "something," but did not see what. Obviously, he also did not see who hit him, or that person would have been promptly beaten and jailed with the jaywalkers. Since the only people up there with weapons appeared to be cops, it's a pretty good bet he was hit with a standard issue night stick wielded by one of his overzealous colleagues.

Personally, I wasn't on the bridge. I have only eye witness reports, scant video from below, and the corporate helicopter views to go by. Even from the corporate footage, if one filters out the inane commentary, I do not see anything about the actions of protesters worthy of the harsh criticism slogged around in the mainstream press. I belive the cops (with their cheerleaders the PBA and the corporate media) seized on this incident in an attempt to justify police violence. "No wonder the police attacked so many unarmed people! Why, if they HADN'T, these baddies might have actually succeeded in overthrowing the American Way of Life!"

Bullshit. The protesters were out to make a point, and they made one. We were all bleeding that night for the Iraqi people and for the planet earth. And the police made sure the blood was not just figurative. The symbolic shutdown of the city said in no uncertain terms that we will NOT consent to this. We are not a violent people, but we are not sheep either. It's interesting that the only people who actually behaved in a violent manner -- the police -- were portrayed in the corporate media (REPEATEDLY!) as "lenient."

And we have "journalists" like nick buttlick to thank for helping to manufacture consent for more police violence in this city. His previous article was written with all the integrity one might expect from WW. It was full of lies, half truths, and personal grousing. It was a lazy and befuddled attempt to have something to say about the events around town without actually having to find out what was really going on.

I planned never to read Nick or WW again, but of course couldn't resist when I saw the topic this week. As expected, Nick delivered another silly, yellowed version of the world, as skewed in its own way as the other article.

What will be next week, Nick? "How Indymedia is messing with me"? "I'm as cool as indymedia"? "NAh nah on Indymedia"? How about, "Indymedia is not nice to normal people like me."

One more thing 23.Apr.2003 18:40

CatWoman

Oh. And the reason a call went out to block the corporate media was not, as nick said, "to protect those who might break the law." Once again, Nick throws in useless assumptions when facts would work better.

In fact, many people -- I include myself here -- advocate blocking the corporate media because they do not tell the truth. They take a piece of footage and use it out of context to illustrate their particular slant. Flag burnings are a perfect example of the kind of gratuitous, context-less footage they use in this manner. Since Nick saw the A22 video, he has seen how this works. What am I saying! Nick makes his living doing this! Of course he knows how this works!

We don't like to be used like this. The corporate media creates a climate which encourages police violence, and then profits from our pain by shooting lurid photos of victims of pepper spray and night sticks. They don't use these photos to illustrate police violence though. On the contrary, the reports about "protesters clashing with police" always imply that all the violence was provoked. (Just like nick's comment about the police use of chemcial weapons on "innocent bystanders" on the steel bridge -- he blames "black-clad protesters" for that, not the police.)

On another note, nick "reports" that the PDX PD is monitoring the site. Not that we didn't know this, but isn't that a violation of statues that prohibit the police from spying on and/or keeping files on citizens except when an actual criminal investigation is taking place? Why doesn't nick do an "investigative" piece on that? Oh yeh. Telling the truth is not his job.

Finally, I'm with Brian on one thing. I don't care what nick buttlick says, I think jim lockheart rocks. (Though I confess I do hope he was misquoted or taken out of context...but that's not hard to imagine where mr. buttlick is concerned.)

Typical Willy Week 23.Apr.2003 19:50

Biking Jesus

I see this as another typical Willy Week article. Instead of examining an issue - like the role corporations play in the media for example - they go ahead and paint Indymedia as being two men who come from "traditional" backgrounds and now are spearheading anarchy. While this might indeed be entertaining to uninformed readers who suck in their words with little critical thought, it just goes to show that Willy Week is more about personal attacks than it is about journalism.

The fact is that Willy Week always claims to represent the voice of Portland and its "hip" writers are true champions of the little people. In fact, if you look at their staff you will see predominately white, liberal men writing the "hard" news and women covering things like restaurants. In other words, Willy Week is exactly like 95% of the other corporate news sources out there.

Long live Indymedia where even uneducated blokes like me have a voice!

Context 23.Apr.2003 21:30

$

Cat Woman: When I wrote that the missing information in the video about violence against police on the Steel Bridge was "critical", I meant of critical importance to the events that unfolded in response, (the police reaction, the mayor's response, the public's phone calls), not "critical" as in to criticize.

were you there? 24.Apr.2003 00:15

I didn't think so.

I plan on submitting my remarks to WW personally. For now, however, I have this to say:

To "Oh, and...", who said that not having footage of the Steel Bridge incident is "a bit unbelievable": Were you there? I don't think so. Because if you were, you might have seen that I was, in fact, the only "Portland Indymedia Reporter" on the front lines of the Steel Bridge incident. I only have a still digital camera, however, so wasn't able to contribute footage to the video collective. The videographers were well behind me, and the only footage they had was the footage shown in the "Day X" piece.

You also say, "At the very least, you all should have known that the video, as it is, is inaccurate and would be perceived as denying the banner mob's role in provoking the police backlash that day..." as if you were there. Again, you obviously weren't, b/c if you were,you would have seen cops who were ready, willing, and able to deal with the crowd. They were not "a few traffic cops" as Budnick reports. Rather, they were many cops who were well armed with night sticks, and who used them very liberally on the crowd, just as they used their pepper spray to attack a deaf man (who, BTW, was helped to safety by a "radical," not by a cop).


Next time, please comment on something you were actually there to see, not something that you saw reported on the corporate news.

To $ in context 24.Apr.2003 09:30

CatWoman

Yes, I would have assumed that you were referring to the "critical" footage from the bridge, except for one thing. Taken in context with the rest of your comments, you say, "at the very least could have included the critical information in a voiceover or even text."

Since the information was, in fact, presented by at least three different eyewitness reports, as well as VOs and text, I could only assume you were asking, not that the video merely present the "critical" info, but that you wanted the info to be used to criticize.

That assumption was buttressed by your next comment, which was, "At the very least, you all should have known that the video, as it is, is inaccurate and would be perceived as denying the banner mob's role in provoking the police backlash that day."

I have to disagree with you, $. The video is far more accurate than the corporate spin you obviously got. Because it was told from the perspective of the people who were actually there. In fact, no one needs to "provoke" police violence in PDX. To say so is to follow a long tradition of blaming the victim. Shame on you.

Unreasonable 24.Apr.2003 16:45

$

Catwoman: The fact that you can't even comprehend a simple written statement tells me that you are either too irrational or too stupid to engage in a reasonable discussion.

I Didn't Think So: I wasn't on the Steel Bridge but I saw the unedited video on television. No sound. No spin. Just a mob rushing the police with their banner. The words on it said, "All Bets Are Off". No shit the police used night sticks and pepper spray after being rammed by a bunch of thugs. What did you think they would do? If somebody hit you wouldn't you hit back?

false idols 24.Apr.2003 22:01

shalome

deva,

it appears that you do indeed have a need to appear "better then".
do you have false modesty?
you are obviousely in a position of being used as a spokesperson, accept it graciously, or remain behind the scenes.
a leader should not bear false pride.
the truth of indy media will speak for itself.
you speak only for the truth of yourself.
by responding to a taunt as a spokesperson, you pick up that bone, only to deny you hold it.

re shalome 24.Apr.2003 23:15

dfasdfdas


shalome said:
by responding to a taunt as a spokesperson, you pick up that bone, only to deny you hold it.
This picture was taken at the press conference where Deva spoke for indymedia.

http://www.artworldnews.com/oct98/pics/newart/pic10.jpg


To $ 25.Apr.2003 09:02

Observer

You have consistently ignored the points that CatWoman has made, and have attempted to move the focus elsewhere. I think CatWoman has answered you and then some, yet you respond by calling CatWoman "ignorant" and "stupid." I think it is you, $, who is ignorant and possibly stupid. Read CatWoman's words again, and this time, get a clue.

interesting 25.Apr.2003 09:50

yElp

To start out much love to deva for the rebuttal. And LONG LIVE INDYMEDIA!

Ok moving on.

$ heres your last comment.

"I wasn't on the Steel Bridge but I saw the unedited video on television. No sound. No spin. Just a mob rushing the police with their banner. The words on it said, "All Bets Are Off". No shit the police used night sticks and pepper spray after being rammed by a bunch of thugs. What did you think they would do? If somebody hit you wouldn't you hit back?"

How many times have you used your first amendment right to assemble? I have a couple times. At these times i have been rammed by horses,atv's,riot cops, sticks, guns, feet, SUV's, police cars, police motorcycles, pepper spray and rubber bullets. Probably missed something but whatever. This one time in the last say 10 years of protesting in portland, the people do exactly what you say they would.

after being rammed by a bunch of thugs - Police
What did you think they would do? If somebody hit you wouldn't you hit back?

Hmm...You seem to be arguing the wrong side here. People had been rammed and just plain fucked with that entire day and when they FINALLY yes FINALLY fight back like you said they (!)NOT WOULD BUT SHOULD(!) you condemn them? For doing what you think they should have. Think about what your saying.

to yElp 25.Apr.2003 11:11

Right ON

Right on, yElp. I couldn't have said it better myself. The good citizens have such a double standard. When the polie use violence, why it MUST be justified. The protesters must have done SOMETHING to deserve it.

When the protesters use violence -- and I wouldn't even call the steel bridge folks violent -- then they are outrageous criminals and it's a good thing the police can beat them for their sins.

I want to get back to the steel bridge. Despite the hype in the corporate media, I saw no violent protesters there. Instead, the media made much of the fact that protesters came with helmets and gas masks. Again with the double standard! The POLICE came with helmets and gas masks too. Nothing said about that. The people on the bridge were all wise enough to know that the police were gunning for them. For once, they weren't taking it lying down. But an important fact here: Unlike the police, they were all unarmed.

Trust me, $. We had the cops outnumbered at least 100 to one. If we had been in a mood for violence, they would have known about it. The fact is, people were not looking for violence. They were looking to exercise their right to freely assemble and to free speech. And they have been around this city long enough to know that when you do that, you'd better be ready for a police riot.

thanks to yElp and right on 25.Apr.2003 14:58

observer

Thanks, yElp and right on, for pointing out the double standard. I was there at the protest, and (not surprisingly) the media spin on it was unbelieveably different from what I saw at the protest.

People who want to whine about how naughty the protesters were are should at least know what they're talking about first, but they seldom do. Usually, they're just brainwashed peons serving the interests of their master the TV.

Deva's response--more please 25.Apr.2003 16:56

ahimsa

Deva, I appreciate your thorough and thoughtful response to the (entertainment posing as news, as usual) WW article.

However, you have not responded to what I saw as the central charge of the article--that at least two threats to Mr. Budnick were posted (apparently by you and/or spArk) and allowed to remain, while several posts praising non-violence and criticizing the threats were hidden.

If this is true, it would indeed appear to be censorship motiviated by a specific political stance.

I would love to read your response to this specific. Thanks.

On a related note, non-violent protest is not reactionary or even moderate. It can be radical, as Gandhi and King taught us. It does, however, require discipline.

Thanks for the forum.