NICK BUDNICK'S RESPONSE
WW reporter responds to criticisms.
Some people posting to this site said they'd like to hear my response to the criticisms of my article. The criticisms were numerous; here is my attempt to correct factual inaccuracies:
•Deva in his "examination" post, says he "encouraged Nick not to focus on me so much ...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. "
To me this complaint is a red herring: Is Deva suggesting that story subjects should dictate how the story is written? Is he saying they should have the power to tell people they cannot run photos taken in public places? I have heard Deva make arguments to the contrary, so I doubt he really believes that. The fact is that Deva and spArk have been the key figures in making Indymedia what it is today. Focusing on them is not unfair regardless of their wishes,. That's why Rearguard ran a three-part series on Deva and Indymedia last fall: he is a key figure. Indeed, in his e-mail to me he seemed to accept the role of spokesperson, saying: "I do end up, with resistance on my part, acting as a spokesperson of sorts."
•Also, in making his argument, there is an inaccuracy: he claims I disregarded his request to not run the photo we had of him; in reality, he specifically said it was OK. On, April 17, while responding to a request to get a photo of him and spArk together, he wrote: "I do not object to you using the individual photo you have of me, but having a photo of both spArk and I together presents a different picture and does feel to me like it is excluding other contributors and not recognizing their valuable contributions."
•Later in Deva's posting, he denies that Indymedia has made compromises, but then, paradoxically, he admits that there has been more censorship than in the past. He blames that on increasing volume of posts and a need to remove "spam." But then he admits that some posts were taken off that did not need to -- in other words, because they were not "spam." Is this not a compromise aggravated by volume of posts?
He wrote: "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."
The fact is, the people who decide what material is removed from the site and which becomes central features are employing the same filtering role and bias that editors do at newspapers. This is a necessary part of making sense of the world given the constant stream of information in this world; however, if it is not a compromise of Indymedia's stated ethos I don't know what is.
•As far as censorship, and my statement that there are no standards or accountability, Deva writes "This is false as well. There are standards and there is acountability."
In at least one response that he has posted to people complaining about their posts being removed, he has stated that he doesn't know who took them down or why, but it should not have happened. It is undisputed that there is no record of who took down which posts and why. If that is his definition of accountability, then that surprises me. As he wrote on April 20 in an e-mail to me: "It has been agreed upon that people can hide posts at their discretion according to the policy. Often a person doing so bounces it off of someone else, but that is not required."
There is indeed a standard — the anti-censorship policy of Indymedia — but it is clear that this is now being violated routinely. When asked about what policy explained how anti-violence posts were removed in the wake of my March 26 article, both m2 and Deva responded, and neither made the claim that 1) they were removed in accordance to the specific policy, or 2) that it was the result of a mysterious technical glitch.
To the contrary, Deva wrote to me in tacit defense of the move, saying that it may not have been proper, but at least those with "less bile" were left up. Meanwhile, the threats themselves were left up, which is why Sheri Herndon of global Indymedia was surprised. Threats of violence are not "bile?"
•Deva also writes that the Day X video is not manipulative, saying "What he may not realize is that there was no footage from the Steel Bridge available to the editors of the piece."
Actually, there was plenty of footage played on all the TV stations, and there were also descriptions of it posted on Indymedia by people responding to various attempts to claim it did not happen. So to instead run an alleged first-hand account that is diametrically opposed to what actually happened — the reality that was reflected in the TV footage, Indymedia posts, and a published account — strikes me as selective, to say the least.
•Deva writes that: "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."
Like all traditional media, WW is not as open as Indymedia. However, in an earlier e-mail exchange, when Deva accused me of misquoting him (I quoted from a tape-recorded interview), and, later, of misparaphrasing it (he said "should not be allowed;" the paraphrase said "banned), I encouraged him to write a letter to the editor and we would run it. That offer remains open.
•Deva and others have suggested that there is no issue concerning democracy at Indymedia.
As recently as six months ago, there was enough of an issue that global indymedia urged Portland to undergo a "recertification" process to ensure PDX still complied with the guiding Indymedia principles.
In the e-mail, from global's Jay, he cites questions others raised as to whether the vote dissolving the collective sparked by Deva and spArk was truly representative, and also says, "Especially disconcerting is the idea that several people feel as if they have been forced out of the collective." This recertification process never happened.
In other words, I did not fabricate this issue.
•Later in Catwoman's first post, she apparently asks me to not report what I myself saw on the Steel Bridge in person from 12 to 15 feet away: "And we have "journalists" like nick buttlick to thank for helping to manufacture consent for more police violence in this city."
In reality, the police crackdown began the very next day after the Steel Bridge-- well before my article came out. We have since written two articles on the backlash, and one of them resulted in Alan Graf getting a key plaintiff (the red-haired woman sprayed by Hanousek and Kruger) for his lawsuit, after she saw herself in WW.
•In her second post, Catwoman writes that "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."
Contrary to Catwoman's claim, this was not my "useless assumption." This in fact was was reason #1 cited in the Indymedia feature article entitled "Block the Corporate Media." Instead of using the words "break the law," it says "illegal activity," "arrestable situations," and "compromising situations."
Specifically, the #1 reason given to block the media was:
"1.They cannot be trusted not to work with the cops
In arrestable situations like we will be facing, the corporate media have no problem with broadcasting or otherwise reporting on illegal activity in a way that will put us at risk. As activists, we should know better than to film or photograph people in compromising situations, or to not make the footage public if we do. (At least, we all oughta know this by now.) The people who are taking risks to actively resist the imperialist power of the U.S. need our support and one vital way of doing that is to protect their identities. The corporate media doesn't care about this concept. Thus, they are dangerous to us."
•Catwoman also writes that "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."
According to longtime Portland activists, the charge on cops violated Portland's unwritten but longstanding protest rules of etiquette, because they specifically endangered innocent bystanders who had no forewarning of their intentions, and the police response was totally predictable.
Since the charge was clearly premeditated, and the backlash entirely predictable, I am confused by Catwoman's argument that those who did this bear no responsibility for what happened in response to their actions.
•She also writes that "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?"
Actually, no: websurfing a public site is as legal for police as it is you or I. They just can't keep files of non-criminal postings. If they find evidence of proposed criminal activity in postings then they can in fact keep a file of that criminal proposal. This is not illegal in the slightest.
•Later, in the posting "were you there?" someone calling themself "I didn't think so" writes: "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."
To double-check that my notes and recollections were accurate, before printing my March 26 article I reviewed video from the event and still photos. It is a fact that there were only three traffic cops there when the charge occurred. The ones who came soon thereafter -- after the charge-- were reinforcements. I reported that correctly. I also reported as clearcut misconduct the spraying of the apparent deaf man, as well as the name of the cop who sprayed him. If Indymedia wanted to be constructive, it would ask people who witnessed this to call the Independent Police Review board, which appears to have opened an investigation based on my article.
•Later logos writes,
"The article brought up the discussion that occured regarding Andy Rice and the feelings of some members that there was a power grab. Since you went through the time to find these articles, how is it that you missed the personal threats from Mr. Rice, the attempt of members to proclaim themselves into power positions that did not exist, and other methods of coercion, intimidation, and conflict. If you check the archives it is all there."
In reality, there was never any evidence posted of Rice making threats that I could see. Furthermore, his posting was representative of several people's complaints. The ad hominem attack on him evades this issue.
•Logos also writes: "You left out that nearly all mistakes in hidden and missing articles are due to technical errors cause by the old software pdx imc is using. If someone finds that there is hidden posts that shouldn't be & can't
otherwise explain it, the password is changed and a search is on to find
who it is that is violating the site."
In their responses to me about the removal of the posts, both m2 and Deva said nothing about a technical glitch. Rather, they attributed it to a discretionary power to remove posts by those who have passwords.
•Later, in "The Good Things the Papers Do," CatWoman writes "Yes. Let's not forget. Let's remember how Nick and others at WW, not to mention the much less subtle corporate sycophants at the wOregonian, work day and night to manufacture consent for the status quo that's grinding us down.....Because WW is no "alternative." It's as bought by corporate interests as the bOregonian, it's just more devious about it."
Indeed, to outsmart those who read Noam Chomsky, we've been devious in our attempts to manufacture consent, including with Indymedia's favorite whipping boy, the Portland Business Alliance:
and its predecessor the Association for Portland Progress:
and the police:
and our coverage of CFA type issues
This is just a small sampling.
•Later, Gringo Stars critiques our chart of news stories as covered in the mainstream news, saying:
"Next time, Nick; concentrate on news CONTENT when comparing different news outlets. What, precisely, does a story say about what is happening? In whose terms and with whose words are the events being described? Who benefits the most from each different perspective?"
This is a valid point: a more detailed examination would be appropriate if the article intended to repeat the focus of our two or three earlier articles in recent weeks concerning the slant of the media we've been subjected to. Instead, we ran a chart showing that concern over the media is justified. The chart, in showing the Oregonian made no mention of three out of six important issues relevant to the invasion of Iraq, achieved that aim.
•Later on, an anonymous poster claimed that his words, "See you on the streets. And I'll see you long before you ever see me." were not intended as a threat. He may not have meant to carry it out, but several posters interpreted it as a threat and it was discussed as such.
As the thread shows, it was perceived as a threat by many people aside from myself. A second, later posting, about breaking reporters' fingers and such, was unmistakable.
•I think Deva has correctly noted a significant advantage the Indymedia concept has over traditional media: many people can post, thereby providing different points of view in an attempt to get at the truth.
It seems to me that advantage is diluted when people make false claims and are not challenged on them. It also is diluted when people who disagree with the editors' view but have legitimate points to raise are deleted.
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