portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article global

alternative media

Policy at Ireland Indymedia: Censorship or Not?

account of the deletion of my article at Ireland Indymedia
I posted an essay, 'The Labor Theory of Female Value', ( http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2003/05/265550.shtml) on a number of Indymedia sites today, around six sites in total, including Ireland Independent Media Center.

The essay was soon deleted from the Ireland site.

I searched around the Ireland site looking for a link to a compost bin, and found nothing.

I also read their policy statement, and found nothing there that would indicate why my article had been deleted. So I reposted the article, with a note informing people that it had been deleted earlier. This led to a discussion of sorts taking place through the comments section.

Someone named 'Ray', and editor at Ireland Indymedia, responded like this:

"I deleted this article earlier
by Ray Thu, May 29 2003, 1:47pm
And I will be deleting it again soon.

This article was spammed across a bunch of different indymedia newswires - here, South Africa, Melbourne, Sydney, and probably many more. Articles that are crossposted across a bunch of indymedia wires are always deleted. (I deleted the 'Iraqis Riot, Shoot Down US Helicopter' story at the same time, and for the exact same reason.) "

"The link below takes you to the deleted list, where everything deleted from the newswire is automatically sent. In most cases, the deleting editor will have added a short explanation for the deletion to the story. Its always worth checking there for an explanation before asking here.
(In half an hour or so the deleted list will also contain this copy of the article...)
related link: www.topica.com/lists/imc-ireland-hidden/read"


When I asked about the guidelines, Ray responded with this:


"Guidelines
by Ray Thu, May 29 2003, 1:56pm
Unfortunately, the editorial guidelines page hasn't been updated in ages. There have always been too many other things to do (and some of the proposed changes are controversial, so discussion on those delays any update)

But the practice of indymedia Ireland, for at least a year now, has been to delete crossposted articles. This has been stated again and again by editors on the newswire. I'm sorry you couldn't find this out before your article was deleted, but its not going to stop me deleting your article if its crossposted.

Indymedia Ireland's users are perfectly capable of going to other sites themselves to find news of interest. And if your essays are as good as we all like to hope our writings are, then they'll be picked up in emails, fanzines, and lots of other forums. In the meantime, its more than a little arrogant to decide _yourself_ that your writings are so important that they deserve to be posted in four continents (US, Africa, Europe, and Australia). And no matter how good or bad these writings are, if all indymedias all around the world carry the same stuff then that destroys their function as an outlet for local news, or analysis by local writers.
The policy stands, and it will continue to be enforced."


How do other indymedia posters, and editors, feel about this policy? Is this a common policy of all indymedia sites? Should it not be stated clearly? Should not the compost bin be clearly marked, and readable?

I realize that imc is volunteer, and i have expressed my appreciation numerous times, so I'm just wondering how other people feel about the unstated (on the website) policy at Ireland IMC?
policy not uncommon at imc 29.May.2003 09:05

deva

The policy to hide crossposted articles is in place at a number of imc's

It is understandable because lots of people post the same reposted articles to dozens of imc's, some to nearly every site. In general I would prefer to see some weighting based on whether it is original writing or itself a repost, and some thought given to it being posted on a few imc's as different than on dozens or almost all. I have had my own articles hidden on other imc's because they were not local to their site. Santa Cruz had (still?) the policy of hiding anything that was not local. So it goes. Each local imc can set a policy of their own choosing. It is annoying to have ones article hidden, but that is their choice and it is not a stupid rationale for doing so.

It is a problem when there are tons of reposts filling a small local imc which does not have much local coverage. Even with an active site like Portland, sometimes reposts overwhelm the newswire. The portland site does at times hide reposted and crossposted articles when it looks like one person has posted a bunch of them. There is also work being done to add an 'article type' category in addition to the topics and regions. There are 4 proposed article types: Coverage, Commentary, Announcements, and Reposts. This will allow people reading the site more flexibility in filter for what they are interested in.

Cross-posting 29.May.2003 09:34

James

Cross-posting is evil. It was evil on USENET and it's evil on IMCs.

The nice thing about the web, however, is how extensible it is. If a number of IMC's published RDF-like descriptors of the various Open Newswire stories on their IMC, including the number of comments attached to the story, other IMCs could create a 'Hot Box' containing all the active discussions from some select group of other IMCs. i.e., Portland might have a Hot Box with active discussions in Seattle, San Francisco, DC, etc.

not cool 29.May.2003 09:59

pdx indy editor drone #6082

while i understand and even appreciate imc ireland's policy about hiding cross-posts, i don't agree with its application in this case. hiding stories that are reposts from other media publications, especially corporate ones, is one thing. emma's work, however, is original to the indymedia network, and is not published elsewhere. in my opinion, the very reason indymedia exists is to publish and highlight work by people like emma. considering the global nature of the problems emma is describing, it makes sense for it to be published at more than one indymedia site. you can't say, "emma's topic belongs only at such-and-such indymedia because that's where the problem is centered." the persistent scourge of male domination and oppression is global. fresh voices like emma's are essential to describing and tackling it.

i would ask imc ireland to consider honing their policy to take into account the source; if the article is a repost from corp. media or even well-known alternative media, hide away; after all, the article has already had its day in the sun elsewhere. but in the case of articles like those by emma, make an exception. otherwise it starts to feel like independent voices like hers have no place in indymedia. i don't believe that's what imc ireland intends, but that could be the result.

Chime In 29.May.2003 10:02

Foo connectedpdx@yahoo.com

Ray is right, but vague.

I come to Portland Indymedia because I am interested in Portland. What's interesting to Ireland I may also be interested in, but I would like to select when to see this info. I can point and click pretty well on my own. On the Portland Indymedia site text like this becomes clutter. Like "disruptive" posts (and I am not sure what this exactly means) clutter is a form of spam. It's discouraging and confusing - especially to people coming to the site for the first time.

My suggestion: rewrite your text to connect Portland to the subject.

I also appreciate not setting imc guidelines in stone. It's continuing to make good decisions which proves us human, something which needs doing daily.


correction for foo 29.May.2003 11:39

indy activist

emma is talking about imc ireland removing the story, not imc portland. imc portland featured emma's story in the center column, which is quite the opposite!

More complex 29.May.2003 11:51

Aidan -IMC Ireland gabriel_syme@yahoo.com

IMC's are supposed to be a grassroots media. As in a local resource.

There is little point of having 90 plus Indymedias around the globe if the all carry the same stories. It's about providing a diverse alternative for many voices.

For starts many african IMCs have collasped under the weight of global spam, their newswire unreadable and unmonitored this is because some people see the IMC network as a cheap and easy way to spread their voice and their message around the world at the expense of others.

The argument that Emma's work is more valid, and therefore deserves a voice on IMC is a murky area. You guys get David Arthur Johnson right? Posts his gibberish on every IMC. If Emma has the right to have her articles on every newswire then so does he. I mean they're unqiue.

But Emmas work is more valid and more important you say? Well yes "You say". Thats your opinion. You're now asking editors (who are over stretched as it) to make judgement calls. Leading to accusations of bias, just because you think your article is better or more deserving of a wider audience, doesn't necessarily mean the editor thinks so. (and now an editor is bogged down listening to your moral outrage over how your deserving piece has been censored).

Sorry tough, exceptions lead to bias, leads to this stopping being a democratic media, and into an authoratian clique (which we're usually called anyway, by people boo hooing about "censorship").

Your article can be read on other indymedias, and .org, we're not censoring your piece, just saying it hasn't got a home on IMC Ireland, if people want to read about it they can look elsewhere.

IMC Ireland stand by our policy. We think it makes a stronger IMC Ireland, which we're proud of, it's a unique voice in ireland, and we really want to ensure it stays that way.

Deal with it.


whew! 29.May.2003 11:55

pdx indy activist

wow, Aidan! dem's is strong words!

so tell us, how does having no room for nuance make Ireland IMC a more democratic media source?

principles are great, and are needed as starting points, but when they have no exceptions they become dogma, which is very undemocratic.

Response 29.May.2003 12:07

Daithi Mac Sithigh, IMC Ireland

The author of the "not cool" comment above was kind enough to email it to the IMC Ireland mailing list, and I responded directly and to the list; for information, here is the part of the email that directly responded to him!

The subject of the article may have been global, but I do not accept that this standard (which is of course open to manipulation, relevance is certainly different in the eye of the author...I think all the crossposted articles would be of huge worldwide importance, if you asked the person that sent it to all the sites) as a valid one. There is no point whatsoever in having over a hundred Indymedia sites if the same articles are posted on all the sites - and indeed, it creates a preference for those with better access to Internet time to crosspost their work, and this is certainly undesirable.

Furthermore I disagree with editors entering into discussion on the nature of the problems of patriarchy and male violence, or indeed any issue, as this is not consistent with the idea of open publishing. If we are to decide that Emma Goldwoman's original multiple-posted journalism is of global importance, but someone else's isn't, then surely we as editors are substituting our judgment for that of the reader? I agree that nuance and flexibility are useful tools but if we allow some 'worthwhile' crossposts, then we face the criticism of those authors of 'less worthwhile' or 'irrelevant' crossposts for viewpoint censorship. There is definately no hierarchy of regulars and strangers to Indymedia that would assist either. For small sites this would be an unconscionable waste of time. It is also distressing to look at new sites, especially those where the local language is not English, and see the parade of familiar crossposters swooping in on fresh meat.

As has been referred to in the discussion on Portland, IMC sites go their own way on issues like this. For me, this is one of the benefits of a decentralised network like ours. I would imagine that many people involved in Indymedia here have nothing but respect for the amazing site that is Portland (I certainly do). Indeed, we followed your lead on using single newswire stories as the basis for features. Hopefully we will both be informed as a result of this debate, and continue on doing our very best to produce a good site.

Daithi Mac Sithigh

Aidan 29.May.2003 12:10

Nuance

Who said we didn't have nuance.

Take a gander through our site. (btw we're big portland IMC fans, love the rapid turnover of features)

We've developed from a group documenting protest, to engaging in human interest journalism, investigative reporting, critical disection of both the right and left (take a look a shitstorm about this anti war demo)

 http://www.indymedia.ie/archives/arch1.html

We became the center point of the irish antiwar movement for a while getting over 3,500 hits a day (not bad for a country with next to no home broadband and 3.5 million people).

We do this by insisting that posts crossposted across the IMC network weren't suitable for us, and developing IMC Ireland as a unique individual voice which all IMCs should be.

We're not being dogmatic about this we're being fair, and we're treating everyone equally. I'm sorry Emma feels hard done by, but this isn't some bizarre attempt to keep women down like she alluded to, it's trying to presevre Indymedia as a grassroots forum for local activists, not just as a way for lazy person to distribute their article easily to the largest audience, to the expense of local stories which are pushed down the wire. Thats not why indymedia was set up, to me anyway. and the rest of IMC Ireland editorial agree

thank IMC Ireland 29.May.2003 12:33

another pdx activist

I appreciate you taking the time to respond and voice you ropinions. Your editorial group obviosuly has to do what you think is right for your group. Obviously our policy is somewhat different but that's how evolution works, through diversity and observation of what works. Our policy covers issues like gibberish posting and and disruption but I would say it does take more time to make those decisions than a policy that was imply all cross-postings should be removed. Still, if we're willing to take that time that is our decision because it's what we feel is in the best interest of our readers. All IMC's have to remmeber to accept critiques of their policies and adjust them to fit whatever changes occues. In any case, keep up the good work and we'll do the same.

does Portland IMC require a local connection? 29.May.2003 12:52

let anyone be a local, but only in one locality

A great deal was made of the recent apologies from the Chemtrail poster and a few people have questioned whether or not they should have been made into features for so many months. However, although many people thought the Chemtrail posts out of touch with reality they were undeniably reports about events in the Southern Cascadia biosphere. In the previous incarnation of Portland Indymedia there was a link at the top right hand side of the page that explained that (as I remember it) all of the newswire but especially the features based on the newswire were to be reporting about local events or at least the impact locally of national or global events. I didn't think Emma Goldwoman posts ever met this criteria. However, they were well written and every bit as entertaining as the Chemtrail posts. When it became clear that their author was posting them it seemed reasonable to conclude that they were written by a local author. That always seemed enough of a local connection to me.

Now before any gets upset please note that I DON'T THINK IT MAKES ANY DIFFERENCE WHETHER OR NOT EMMA GOLDWOMAN ACTUALLY LIVES IN THE SOUTHERN CASCADIA BIOSPHERE. Perhaps she lives where there is no local IMC or perhaps she just wishes to adopt Portland Indymedia as her "home" IMC. It doesn't matter to me. However, I do ask this question: IF she continues to SPAM the IMC network with her posts then should those posts that lack any connection to Portland, either by virtue of their content or their authorship, be made into features on Portland Indymedia?

OR, am I missing something here? Has Portland Indymedia ceased to require any kind of local connection for features?

The point is this, in my opinion 29.May.2003 13:19

emma goldwoman

The reason for raising this question is not because I feel 'hard done by', it is because I wanted to hear more about editorial positions at indymedia.

My main beef with the Ireland IMC is 1) that they do not state their policy on their website, 2) their compost pile is not linked 3) when the link is given the stories are impossible to read and the comments are gone 4) the general tone of the editors there is snide and authoritarian ('deal with it', 'The policy stands, and it will continue to be enforced', 'more than a little arrogant to decide _yourself_ that your writings are so important that they deserve to be posted in four continents', 'This article was spammed across a bunch of different indymedia newswires').

Are my articles spam? In what way? Everyday I see reposts of the same article from the guardian or yellowtimes, and nobody calls that spam.

I understand the technical difficulties of changing the site, to an extent. And I realize that I cannot do it myself, so why should I criticise other volunteers? But it seems to me that the editorial policy should be stated clearly in terms of reposting of articles. That would resolve the whole situation, it seems to me. Without a stated policy, who knows when arbitrary censorship takes place?

Thanks to all those above who responded, this has been a good education for me.

pdx indymedia features have no "local" requirement 29.May.2003 15:31

pdx indy activist

there's a link on the left sidebar, under "about", labelled "features". on the older version of the site, this link was at the top of the center column and it was labelled, "what are features?". the text of the page has not changed since the older version. it says, in part:

article selection
for an article to become a feature, it should have the following characteristics:

1. original writing—not a re-post from another publication.
2. enough information—who, what, where, when. these specifics don't have to be included in the post itself if it is obvious what event is being covered; for example, when people write about something that's been mentioned on the site already. linking to another article with more info is sufficient to provide context.
3. local issue/story—"local"=cascadia not covered by other IMCs, i.e., seattle or sf bay. this characteristic is optional since some under/misreported global/national issues also deserve to be featured (i.e., war, racism, sexism, etc.).
4. content is consistent with culture of indymedia and those people working for for positive change in the world—nazi posts, etc., are not considered.

note that #3 makes exceptions for topics such as those that emma goldwoman tackles. also, there is some analysis of national or global events that is featured, especially when the author is local.

there are exceptions made to #1 sometimes, when the original publication is small or fringe, and the article would not have gotten around much in its original publication, and the topic seems of interest to pdx indymedia readers. some "9/11 investigation" features, for example, have been exceptions to this requirement too.

generally, most features on the site are about local issues or have a local tie-in. all in all, the guidelines and their subjective (that's right, not objective) exceptions have seemed to produced a mix of features that is pleasing to most readers. that is, while features might go up that some people think are stupid/irrelevant, there's always other features that those same people probably find compelling and important. the mix of issues on the portland indymedia site is, btw, broader than the mix on most other imcs in the global network. the flexibility of the criteria have allowed this mix to flourish.

Response to Emma 29.May.2003 15:41

Foo connectedpdx@yahoo.com

I read everything Emma Goldwoman posts because I have learned she's smarter than the average bear and brings the issues on. I like her thinking and writing. It is her reputation which make me stop shuffling and read. I read her last post - "The point is this, in my opinion" and agree with all her three points on IMC Ireland. They should impliment the tweeks she mentioned.

This is a growing medium. This is good dialogue.


suppose 31.May.2003 02:11

mE

Suppose someone posted a comment on ten IMCs. The editors of each IMC realize that the article is cross-posted and, as is their policy, delete it. So now, instead of ten copies of the article, there are no copies of the article. What does the author do then? If he or she reposts the article on one of the ten sites, then it's just going to get deleted. On the other hand, if it's posted on a different IMC site, presumably the omniscient editors of that site will delete it as a cross-post. So, a perfectly good article gets canned because someone was a bit too industrious in posting it. That sucks.

Final response 31.May.2003 04:51

Aidan

Well simply put we're really busy, we've got a new codebase active at the moment, which is being beta tested and is taking longedr to impliment than planned, those changes are part of the new codebases editorial guidelines, page, and we assumed we'd be up earlier than now.

It's just every time someone has their post removed from imc ireland they scream "censorship" "censorship" Emma implied that her articles content was the reason that it was being removed and "That women had a right to post to Indymedia". Instead of engaging us in dialogue and e-mailing IMC Ireland she frankly had a fit.

Hmm 31.May.2003 13:01

James

mE - Well, quite obviously, that person would not post the article on ten IMCs the next time. Or if they did, they would make sure to connect it locally.