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The Inner Workings of Alternative Media: Part 1

I interviewed people involved with Free Radio Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz IMC, Eat the State!, Ladyfriend and Free Advice Zines, a prisoner newsletter, Infoshop.org and Adbusters Magazine to see what the alternative press needs and wants regarding its visions for our future...

The Inner Workings of Alternative Media: Part 1
By Kirsten Anderberg (This article is part 1, in a 3-part series online at http://resist.ca/~kirstena/pagealtpress.html)

Ben Franklin said freedom of the press is in owning the press. And these days, with the internet and Xerox machines, owning, or at least renting, your own press, has never been easier. I would argue that freedom of the press is in owning the press *and* understanding marketing, though. I interviewed some people involved in alternative, independent and "parallel" media forms for this article. I wanted to see what motivated people working in alternative media, but I also wanted to see what they needed, and what the public could do to help support their efforts... to ensure a healthy alternative to mainstream media for us all. For this article, I interviewed Bradley Allen (Free Radio Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Independent Media Center ( SC IMC)), Lance Scott (Co-founder of Eat the State! (ETS!)), Christa Donner (Ladyfriend and Free Advice Zines), an editor from a prisoner newsletter that goes out with prisoner book deliveries who wanted to remain anonymous, Chuck Munson (Coordinating webmaster for Infoshop.org and librarian), and via phone, Tim Walker (campaigns manager for Adbusters Magazine).

Tim Walker threw a curve ball into the interview process right away by using the terminology "parallel" media, in addition to independent or alternative media. He said what most people call "independent media" really has many interests to serve, most often those of the funders and advertisers. He said that in many ways the media we refer to as "independent" is not really independent, but rather a "parallel" to mainstream media. He said the main difference between parallel media and corporate media was in distribution, as both can have advertisers or outside funding. What is different is the distribution and marketing conglomerate for corporation media. He said the distinction between "parallel" media and truly "independent" media was meant to protect the integrity of the term "independent" media. He said that truly independent media was not supported by advertisers or outside funding, but rather directly by the readers themselves.

1. I asked what the 3 biggest challenges were to keeping their media projects alive and growing:
Bradley (SC IMC): "Dedicated Volunteers, Community Support, Access to Resources. It can be hard to find people that are willing to work on the critical, yet often tedious, aspects of keeping the station on the air. 'Behind the scenes work' is so important to keeping our media projects going."
Lance (ETS!): "One challenge: Money. Three corollary challenges: 1) Finding people who will help raise money (since interest in fundraising is not usually reason people get involved in alternative journalism). 2) Finding institutional support for progressive media. 3) Finding people willing to do the hard work of creating & distributing alt media month after month, year after year, for little or no pay."
Christa (Ladyfriend): "First and foremost, funding (paying for printing and mailing) -- that's the main one. After that, I guess getting diverse, high-quality contributions for each issue...and keeping on top of distribution to various distros and bookstores. Subscriptions are still too overwhelming to me, though I'd like to do them."
Prison Publication: "Since all our publications, zines and resource guides we do are intended primarily for prisoners, there's unfortunately never a lack of an audience. I'd say funding is our biggest challenge since most of our readers are unable to pay/donate financially."
Tim (Adbusters): Tim said that money was problematic, which is why Adbusters has other funding projects, not just the magazine, including posters, books, etc.
Chuck (Infoshop.org): "I'm not sure I can boil the challenges down to three. There are external challenges such as the magazine market, distribution, and so on. There are internal challenges like finances, organization, fulfillment, editorial, layout headaches, and hard-to-reach co-editors, writers, and artists. The primary challenge is lack of resources. Practical Anarchy zine is now published by a collective, but for over ten years it was an irregular zine put together mostly by myself. I think the zine could have turned into a magazine years ago if I had had more money and resources. You can't publish if you don't have the money. Even if you are scamming your entire print run from Kinkos, you still have to pay postage and other costs.

Time is another challenge. If you have to work a job or several jobs, or have to take care of a family, you aren't going to have much time to work on a zine or magazine, even if you are doing it with other people who have the same time constraints. There is one reason why some magazines stay in print, publish monthly, and have newsstand distribution: because they have a paid staff. The only way to run a magazine that is published frequently (more often than "quarterly") is to have a staff that is compensated so they don't have to work other jobs. This is why so few anarchist and leftist magazines come out more often than quarterly. If you don't mind the fact that your political magazines are published infrequently, then this may not bother you. If you'd like to see more anarchist and radical magazines reach more people--which is one of my goals--there has to be a move towards a more structured situation.

Then there are all of those other challenges which I've mentioned. Finding new and exciting content. Working with writers and artists. Trying to figure out how to set up an effective fulfillment database. Doing data entry. Stuffing envelopes and going to the post office. Trying to figure out where to place that last paragraph from a story in your publication. Pulling hair out over production problems. Dealing with people who disrupt your work or throw temper tantrums when you don't cater to their needs. Staying up all night to finish layout so you can get the files to the printer. Alternative media is obviously a labor of love. There is no money in publishing, which is what everybody discovered in the dot-com crash when people found out that almost all dot-coms were actually publishers."

2. Next, I asked what has been tried to remedy those challenges/problems, as well as what worked and what did not work?:
Bradley (SC IMC): "Better outreach to the community through our radio station, the internet (freakradio.org, santacruz.indymedia.org, radio.indymedia.org, radio4all.net, diymedia.net, etc... ), stickers around town and occasional benefits with either a band, speaker, or film screening. It is hard to say what has worked and what has not worked."
Lance (ETS!): "The key to getting money is to ask for it: from readers, from advertisers, etc. ETS! just finished a fundraising drive that we highlighted on our front page & website for 2 months, similar to public radio pledge drives. When asked, our readers stepped up with donations, helping us pay off most of our debts. We've also been relatively successful getting ads; we just need more people soliciting them. What hasn't worked so well, in my limited experience, was asking progressive foundations for money. Years ago I approached the 2 largest local progressive funders, only to discover that their funding guidelines expressly forbid funding media.(!?) While the right wing has been funding media for years, & building large right-wing media empires, progressive media continues to hold bake sales. Dumb."
Christa (Ladyfriend): "I've tried raising the cover price slightly, which worked somewhat. I try to send personalized e-mails (and extended deadlines) to contributors I'd really like to have material from, which usually works better than mass-mailings. I'm trying to keep better records of my invoices/shipments to bookstores, but I don't have a very good database set up yet. I still need to solve that problem somehow."
Prisoner Publication: "Low risk high return hustles seem to be doing the trick. As for what didn't work, I'd say focusing on working within the system."
Tim (Adbusters): Tim said Adbusters has been diversifying products, such as with their new Black Spot Sneaker (www.blackspotsneaker.org), as well as other culture jammer items which they pretest in concept and through small runs to see if the product is viable. He said they also use a large campaigns dept., running events such as Buy Nothing Day and Turn Off Your TV Week, etc. He said competing with mainstream media is hard due to promotion, so things like using listserves, websites, and the internet is good. He also said that Adbusters was started with a larger concept than to merely be independent media. The concept was to highlight unsustainable consumerism, not to be a newswire magazine, and that editorial vision and steering was important also.
Chuck (Infoshop.org): "Experience is what helps the most here. You gain wisdom from experience. You often fall on your face. Sometimes things go better than planned. I learned much from my experiences working on Alternative Press Review and working for Science magazine.

Remedying problems and addressing challenges depends on what your goals are. Do you just want to publish an irregular zine with a limited circulation? If that's the case, then your main challenge is a creative one. What do I want to say in my zine, or my blog? If you want your project to reach more people, than you have to pay attention to important items like fulfillment, organizing the organization, outreach, fundraising, editorial and accounting. It also depends on the project. A magazine presents different challenges than running a website. Practical Anarchy is a different creature than Infoshop News. Right now with Practical Anarchy we're putting together a new issue and trying to distribute copies of the last issue. At Infoshop News I'm focused right now on creating more original content. At the same time, I'm busy much of the day on the tasks of updating and running the website. I really suspect that most people familiar with Infoshop news don't understand that it is a full time job for me, despite the fact that the project becomes more collaborative every day. So instead of finding articles and posting them, I find myself more and more editing content that is submitted. It would help to have more volunteers, but very few people are interested in volunteering.

What works? The answers to that question are of most interest to the people reading this interview. It's important to enjoy what you are doing. If your project isn't fun or rewarding, than it's just like a suck ass job. One of the most important things is to have those things necessary for motivation, creativity, and dedication. It also helps to learn a few things about how people do alternative media well. Go to workshops such as the ones put on at the Allied Media Conference. Join the Independent Publishers Association and read their white papers. Take a class on editing. Study how other publications do layout and design. Don't be afraid to steal ideas--that's how art always works!"

3. What role do you envision alternative media serving in society?:
Bradley (SC IMC): "Alternative media is a way for people to come together, exchange ideas and information, and work to reclaim autonomy while pushing back corporate domination on our lives. It is also a way for people to learn and develop their skills in media production."
Lance (ETS!): "One role is simply to do what mainstream media should be doing: providing the information needed by citizens in a democracy to govern themselves & lead healthy, fulfilling lives. Another role is to serve all those quirky little interest niches that can never be served adequately by mass media."
Christa (Ladyfriend): "It can operate on so many levels, but the area I'm personally the most interested in is its role as a creative outlet and networking tool for people of all ages, helping them to connect with other people who share their interests, share new information, and feel supported, valued, and motivated by a community that they might not be able to find at school or at work."
Prisoner Publication: "Multiple independent sources of events without wondering what global corporation owns them would be awesome."
Tim (Adbuster): Tim said he felt that mainstream media had little agenda past making money, or making sure lots of people are exposed to it, which is a radical agenda really. He said that large corporations happen to produce the news mainstream presses carry, and so the news that the mainstream media spreads is the corporate agenda, and they get a powerful voice in society due to this. He said he sees parallel media as being able to get the word out, but with news that is written by people other than primarily corporations.
Chuck (Infoshop.org): "Alternative media serve as the conduit for voices that aren't heard in the community. They serve as community gadlfy, muckraker, creative force, troublemaker, idea generator, and social conscience. The problem is that society shouldn't need the alternative media, because the media should be filling all of the needs of the community. Until we can get rid of capitalism and overturn the media monopoly the alternative media will have to play the role of outsider challenging the status quo. While some people like being part of the outsider, I see the main goal of the alternative media as leading and supporting radical social change that will upset the current system."

4. Where do you see alternative media in 20 years?:
Bradley (SC IMC): "That's a tough one! I have a hard time envisioning the future."
Lance (ETS!): "Hopefully, on the racks of the local supermarket check-out line, & otherwise more widely available than today."
Christa (Ladyfriend): "Geez, I don't know. I think that some of it will be more glossy and mainstream-accessible, and some (by choice) will remain low-budget and distributed by hand/word of mouth. Sort of the way it is now...only with more high-production options for those who want to reach larger audiences. I think that's already starting to happen."
Prisoner Publication: "Hopefully more tech savvy. Its still hard to find folks with tech skills that are interested in getting involved in such projects, and of course more accessible and more sources to choose from."
Tim (Adbusters): Tim said he saw alternatives to mainstream media taking over the world. He said it "still has huge growth in it," and that it is a great check for mainstream media at the moment, if nothing else. He said he did not believe that the parallel media movement could be "nearly as powerful as it is or will become, without the internet."
Chuck (Infoshop.org): "I really hope that there is no such thing as alternative media in 20 years. If we haven't defeated the media monopoly and brought down capitalism in 20 years, then we will have failed miserably. I'm optimistic about all the changes we will see by the end of this decade concerning media. The media reform movement has reached critical mass and is actively affecting not just the FCC, but the national debate on media. The American Left has finally gotten their act together and are fighting more effectively against corporate and right wing media. Just see Michael Moore's new movie or "Outfoxed." I agree with what my friend Jason McQuinn (editor of Anarchy magazine) has said about this. I want to be so successful as a media activist and anarchist that I don't have to do this anymore. Once we have achieved a full media revolution, anybody will be able to make media, which means that we won't have a need for media activists. I see my goal as an anarchist and media activist as being so successful that I can stop living out these roles."

homepage: homepage: http://www.kirstenanderberg.com


interesting 07.Aug.2004 10:23

the future

just a completely off-the-cuff observation . . .

isn't it possible to 'market' alternative media the same way in which 'alternative rock' has been marketed and sold?

yeah, a lot of that music and those artists are not really 'alternative' anymore - now that they've reached 'mainstream' levels of distribution - but it seems that the *audience* for alternative media and news sources is potentially much larger than what CNN/CBS/NBC/ABC/NYT etc. would have you believe.

I guess what it all comes down to is distribution.

getting it OUT, by the widest and most diverse (yes, within capitalist structures) network possible.

What happened to global indymedia's newswire? 07.Aug.2004 15:23

Angie

Speaking of alternative media - anyone know what killed indymedia's global newswire? Back in December of last year I thought we were going to lose it and posted the following around the net & we did lose it. Now at indymedia people can only post their own news at local indy sites. Anyone know the story? That could tell us a lot.

Sent: Monday, December 15, 2003 12:13 AM
Subject: We're gonna lose the global indy newswire. It's a matter of time . . . unless?

You can't currently publish to global indymedia www.indymedia.org 's open newswire
( http://www.indymedia.org/index.php3?newswire=open) because, as the site advises
(copied below) they are undergoing technical server changes. Being curious, because the last time they made major changes at this website they hid the open publishing wire, moving it off the first page, etc., I clicked around and found the minutes for a November 2003 indy tech meeting. (The global newswire, if you haven't visited it before is where ANYONE could quickly & easily publish any news they want. Lots of 9/11 independent research has been published there in the past, in addition to other important, globally newsworthy stories that
the mainstream press (& alternative fake left press for that matter) do not cover.

You'll note that eliminating the global newswire comes under consideration at this meeting, with the suggestion that the techies can fabricate a technical excuse to do so. Last year, global indymedia got a $50,000 grant from the Ford Foundation ( and see this article about what that means generally, "Alternative Media Censorship: Sponsored by CIA's Ford Foundation?" at  http://www.questionsquestions.net/gatekeepers.html, and I also
remember reading Michael Albert (fake left opposition and rabid anti-911 skeptic) proudly indicating that indymedia people had taken one of his 'left media' type courses, certainly not good news. Check out these snippets from the techies' November meeting minutes, which I've just copied from  http://docs.indymedia.org/view/Devel/TechMeetingSummary01Nov03

18:38 < Zapata> how about gettind rid of the the newswire completely...

18:39 < Zapata> if we as the techies say it's a lot of wasted effort/bandwidth/space to retain the global newswire, I think chances are good we can get rid of it...

18:51 * stefani has very little to add right now. i do follow the global newswire, but its days are limited.

Angie

(Below is the announcement about global indymedia being currently down, and then excerpts of the the techies' minutes.)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NOTE

The migration process for server and software changes are taking place now, so it is currently not possible to publish on www.indymedia.org


www.indymedia.org migrates to New Servers and New Software

IMC's and Indymedia Activists,
The server which has been hosting many indymedia sites, stallman, is losing its net connection on Monday the 15th of December. Over the last two months we, indymedia techies, have been working to move all the remaining indymedia sites to other servers. In the process every site has been upgraded to new indymedia software including mir, sfactive, and dadaimc depending on the preference of the local indymedia center. The last and biggest site to move is the global or network site, www.indymedia.org.
We are upgrading www.indymedia.org to new software when we move it to a new server, Edna. The server, located in New York, is named after the New York anarchist poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. The site also will have a database hosted on a new server named after Noam Chomsky.
For technical reasons we were unable to upgrade the site while maintaining the old active software which we have been using for 4 years. There was a discussion on the imc-tech, www-features, and www-migration list and it was decided to switch to the mir system. Mir will allow more scaleability, better management of the features publishing process, and multilingual support.
The new site will go live before Monday the 15th of December. It will have all the functionality of the old site, but it will not have the same design and it will not work in exactly the same way. For example, people will now be able to comment directly to features on the site, and publish versions of the features in languages other than english.
Please note that it's an evolution, we are working very hard to keep the site up and working through the transition. Feedback and design help would be appreciated, but right now we need to just make it work.
in solidarity,
the www-migration geeks
-------------------
 http://docs.indymedia.org/view/Devel/TechMeetingSummary01Nov03

18:38 < Zapata> how about gettind rid of the the newswire completely...
18:38 * mtoups TWINKLES to that
18:38 < Zapata> afaik only zapatista monitors it...
18:38 < Zapata> it has no official status
18:38 < Zapata> it has no collective behind it
18:38 < Zapata> such a proposal should be done through imc process...
18:38 * mtoups raises
18:39 < Zapata> if we as the techies say it's a lot of wasted effort/bandwidth/space to retain the global newswire, I think chances are good we can get rid of it...
18:39 < Zapata> <end>
18:39 * mtoups queue: elfo ski mtoups
18:39 < elfo> ok
18:39 < elfo> just say i can help helping with mir <end>
18:39 < ski> ok #1, i disagree strongly with ditching the global newswire
18:40 < ski> a lot of people know us just by the main site
18:40 < ski> and if we didn't have it, they'd have no idea of the power of open publishing
18:40 * patrick twinkles to ski, and idea of imc without open publishing
18:40 < ski> even if it is full of trolls and dupes and other crap
18:40 * jb raises
18:41 < ski> #2, i like the idea of moving www to mir a lot, but i wonder if fsf people would have a problem with it
18:41 < ski> <end>
18:41 * mtoups queue: mtoups jb
18:41 < mtoups> ok, i support zapata's proposal to end the global newswire
18:41 * chrisc raises
18:41 < mtoups> i agree that having that global open publishing forum was once good
18:41 < mtoups> for example, before new orleans had a local IMC people could still post video of demos to that because they wouldn't have had a place to post it at all otherwise
18:42 -!- chris_msp [~ shadoweye@c-24-118-56-109.mn.client2.attbi.com] has quit [Quit: using sirc version 2.211+KSIRC/1.2.4]
18:42 < mtoups> BUT given that there are regional IMCs in so many places now, and topic imc's coming along, i'm not convinced the need is still there, maybe we could have a "publish" function on the global site that redirects people to an appropriate local/topic IMC
18:42 * Zapata notes that his assumption that getting rid of the newswire would be relatively non-controversial is wrong... perhaps we should in this meeting assume the newswire will remain as it is... opposition in imc process will be much bigger than here...
18:43 < mtoups> because as zapata suggested, we can't really effectively maintain a newswire without a coherant collective behind it to maintain it, and global really isn't that
18:43 -!- bame_ [~ bame@rrc-143.riverrock.org] has quit [Read error: Connection reset by peer]
18:43 < mtoups> but true, maybe we aren't *quite* ready to lose that newswire, but i do think it is the direction we are heading in
18:43 < mtoups> so enough of that
18:43 * ski suggests we table that discussion for now
18:43 * chrisc nods
18:43 < mtoups> anyway i'll <end> and see what jb has to say
18:43 * ski kicks himself for talking out of turn
18:43 * mtoups queue: jb chrisc
18:44 < jb> ok just wanted to say i agree w/ mtoups.
18:44 < mtoups> (aside: zapata can you provide a link to clara's mir-global proposal?)
18:44 < jb> want to ask also: what is the last time people had a look to www. newswire.
18:45 < jb> i figured out yesterday that newswire archiving is br0ken.
18:45 < jb> for 4 or 5 months.
18:45 * ski noticed that
18:45 < jb> and i have seen no complains ...
18:45 < jb> <end>
18:45 * Zapata  http://lists.indymedia.org/pipermail/www-features/2003-November/009897.html
18:46 < mtoups> chrisc: go ahead
18:46 < chrisc> i think that the newswire discussion can continue in parallel with the migration
18:46 < chrisc> we do not need to decide if there will be a newswire or not at this stage
18:46 < chrisc> and it is a far bigger decision that one just for techys
18:47 * mtoups raises
18:47 < chrisc> re fsf: i understand that mir is being cleaned up and and should be GPL clean, Zapata knows more on this
18:47 < chrisc> what can we decide here?
18:48 < chrisc> to mail www-features with some process and tech suggestions?
18:48 < chrisc> inc a www-migration list proposal?
18:48 < chrisc> <end>
18:48 * ski sorry to talk out of turn but i want to note that the fsf-nazis are, well, nazis
18:48 < mtoups> so i was hoping that maybe imc-tech could make the proposal to the rest of the network about the newswire, but it doesn't look like we're ready to (yet).
18:48 < mtoups> but i agree with chrisc then, we should compose a message to www-features about what's up
18:49 < mtoups> and empower them to shape the direction of where things go
18:49 < mtoups> also, we're going to create a list to discuss the global migration project right? we can invite both techies and feature-people to that
18:49 * stefani will have to leave very soon.
18:49 < mtoups> so maybe that's where we go from here?
18:49 < mtoups> <end>
18:49 * chrisc nods
18:50 * ski wonders if stefani has anything she wants to add before splitting?
18:51 < mtoups> did zapata have anything to add on mir's gpl-status?
18:51 * stefani has very little to add right now. i do follow the global newswire, but its days are limited.
18:52 < chrisc> Zapata? GPL and Mir?
18:52 * Zapata is kinda tired of the gpl-status discussion...
18:53 < chrisc>  http://mir.indymedia.org/en/2002/09/214.shtml <- Mir goes GPL!
18:53 * patrick raises
18:53 < mtoups> ok so besides the license issue, is mir a good fit for the global site?
18:53 < mtoups> go patrick
18:53 * chrisc raises
18:54 < patrick> are there any other considerations about moving www.indy to mir (sounds like squid issue with sf-active preclueds sf as replacement)
18:54 < patrick> I mean considerations
18:54 < patrick> besides technicalities like gpl? any feature or load or other issues? <end>
18:54 * Zapata raises
18:54 * mtoups queue: chrisc zapata
18:55 < chrisc> some things re mir and www - mir is only utf-8 codebase?
18:55 -!- stefani [irc@localhost] has quit [Quit: Client Exiting]
18:55 * mtoups raises
18:55 < chrisc> it would be v cool to have www in multiple languages
18:55 < chrisc> and to mahe topics
18:55 < chrisc> and to have topics
18:55 < chrisc> <end>
18:55 * matze dada has utf-8 and topics but is very database intensive
18:56 * mtoups queue: zapata mtoups
18:56 -!- micah_ [irc@localhost] has joined #meeting
18:56 < Zapata> ok
18:56 < micah_> arg, got knocked off line
18:56 < Zapata> for mir we would need a seperate prod server
18:57 < Zapata> prod server uses cpu but not much bandwidth
18:57 < Zapata> pub server uses bandwidth but only has to provide for static content serving...
18:57 < micah_> can someone catch me up about where we are at?
18:57 -!- micah_ is now known as micah
18:57 * epsas is back [TE/gone: 95h37m15s]
18:57 < Zapata> <end>
18:57 < chrisc> micah: we are on www migration
18:58 * mtoups queue: mtoups
18:58 < mtoups> so, i think mir is a great system and the split between backend code and content serving/mirroring is great and abig plus
18:59 < mtoups> one concern is that it seems that maybe fewer techs fully know the mir system backend, i know myself for example, i haven't interacted with it enough yet.
18:59 < mtoups> but i know mir folks like zapata are veyr responsive
18:59 < mtoups> so maybe zapata and others could provide a training of sorts to others
18:59 * jb raises
18:59 * micah raises
18:59 < mtoups> so we have a broader base of support to keep this maintainable
18:59 < mtoups> and as an aside, i still think java is a sucky language, but pretend i didn't say that :) <end>
19:00 * mtoups queue: jb micah
19:01 < jb> there where even less tech people to answer to active problems
19:01 < jb> so far i didnt hear alot about mir ones..
19:01 < jb> i agree that java is kindo sucky but i support the mgration to mir
19:01 < jb> end
19:01 < micah> I think it would be good to get more techs coherant in mir, there are a lot who are there for sf-active and it often seems like zapata is doing all the mir stuff, spreading that load around more so zapata isn't stretched so thin would be good I think. <end>
19:02 * chrisc nods
19:02 * chrisc raises
19:02 * mtoups queue: chrisc
19:03 < chrisc> ok, we seem to have agreement of proposing www to migrate to mir and for a new list to sort this on and that this should be sent to www-features?
19:03 < chrisc> if so who wants to write the email?
19:03 < chrisc> <end>
19:03 * micah raises
19:03 * mtoups queue: micah
19:04 < micah> I think it should be stressed in the proposal that there really isn't much room for talking about other ideas, that the tech crew agrees that mir is the best choice and if people want to make proposals for something else they should do so, but
19:04 * jb raises
19:04 < micah> those proposals should be made with the imminant doom of stallman in mind, and maybe should be proposed for after it is moved for sanity sake
19:05 < micah> <end>
19:05 * mtoups queue: jb
19:05 < jb> shall we archive the current newswire, so that even if there's a www newswire, we don't have to move it
19:05 < jb> restart with a fresh one, etc.
19:05 < jb> this has already been done.
19:05 < jb> end
19:06 * mtoups twinkles to that
19:06 * mtoups raises
19:07 < mtoups> so i think all of the proposals so far are pretty good
19:07 < mtoups> so i guess i'd feel better if we got moving on them and refining them
19:07 < mtoups> like maybe we break into breakout groups and get going?
19:07 * micah asks for a recap of the current proposals
19:07 < mtoups> whew, tough one
19:08 < mtoups> i'll try but <end> for now
19:08 < micah> :)
19:08 * chrisc notes clara mailed www-features today already:  http://lists.indymedia.org/pipermail/www-features/2003-November/009897.html
19:09 * chrisc also note only 2 follow ups also support mir :-)
19:09 < micah> I would like to avoid a imc network wide global code-base war that would impede our work
19:10 < micah> if we want to have that war after we are out of our crisis, that is fine with me
19:10 -!- ekes_mobile [irc@localhost] has left #meeting [Client Exiting]
19:10 * micah also points out that he knows about the imc-tech paypal account
19:11 < micah> and we have some money already in there, we've been holding onto for emergencies
19:11 < epsas> Samizdat!!
19:11 * epsas grrrs
19:11 < micah> that doesn't mean we can't and should do fundraising around this
19:11 < epsas> ((j/k, back to b-fast =))
19:11 * micah wonders if we are waiting for mtoups to recap the proposals and/or should we move on?
19:12 < mtoups> i'm struggling with that one
19:12 < mtoups> so basically
19:12 < mtoups> i'm going to paste something incomplete and you guys are going to fix it
19:12 -!- ski [irc@localhost] has quit [Read error: Connection reset by peer]
19:13 < micah> ok by me
19:13 * djbios-sea wants to know if near-term colocation has been addressed
19:13 < mtoups> ok here's an attempt to recap some stuff:
19:13 < mtoups> proposal 1. migrate sites on stallman to sf-active, mir, dada ASAP - PASSED
19:13 < mtoups> proposal 2. set up bame's boxes to host migrated sites - reimburse him, try to get calyx colo - PASSED
19:13 < mtoups> proposal 3. bame's boxes to go debian - PASSED
19:13 < mtoups> proposal 4. kill global newswire -- controversial, tabled
19:13 < mtoups> proposal 5. migrate global to mir -- proposal to www-features, new list created
19:14 * mtoups dreams of a proposal tracking queue managing meeting bot
19:14 < mtoups> please correct this above, it is surely incomplete and erroneous
19:14 * micah raises
19:15 * mtoups queue: micah
19:15 < micah> they look good to me, although there are more details in each one, and I missed 3 and 4 fighting my network, but as an overall overview it looks right
19:15 * Zapata raises
19:15 < micah> <end>
19:16 * mtoups queue: zapata
19:16 < Zapata> on 2: calyx hosts berkman already right
19:16 < Zapata> I missed this item...
19:16 < Zapata> don't really know what it's about..
19:16 < Zapata> but calyx hosts berkman...
19:16 < Zapata> <end>
19:16 * jb notes that we'd need to talk about berkman one day.
19:16 * mtoups raises
19:17 < mtoups> yes, calyx.nl hosts berkman in amsterdam
19:17 < mtoups> we want to get bame's boxes in calyx.net in new york city
19:17 < mtoups> same company different colos
19:17 * Zapata ok, good, never mind my remark...
19:17 < mtoups> maybe different deal, maybe not
19:17 < mtoups> yes berkman needs to be discussed
19:17 < mtoups> though that has flamewar-potential also
19:17 < mtoups> so i dunno i have mixed feelings on it
19:18 * jb hides
19:18 < micah> is everyone clear on their tasks?
19:18 < mtoups> and ski is gone, he has strong feelings on the subject
19:18 < mtoups> so yeah, getting to work on stuff now might be a better idea
19:18 < mtoups> <end.
19:18 * chrisc wonders who is doing mail to www-features, and thinks it might be good as a follow-up to claras mail
19:19 * micah is writing up the modified 2 proposals that passed at the meeting to send out, and modifying the stallman sites migrating letter to send out
19:19 < micah> but not doing the www-features email
19:20 < micah> someone here needs to take that one
19:20 < chrisc> i _could_ do www-features mail, but if i do it will be very short...
19:21 * chrisc is not good at long emails
19:21 * micah goes to look at clara's email
19:22 < micah> it looks like both people who responded in november were for switching to mir
19:22 < chrisc> yep
19:23 < mtoups> micah: where november is today
19:23 < chrisc> :-)
19:23 < mtoups> ok so i have timeline questions:
19:23 < micah> mtoups: heh yeah
19:23 < mtoups> when can de.indymedia.org, bolivia.indymedia.org, and ecuador.indymedia.org be off of stallman?
19:24 < mtoups> and i have no idea how long a global migration would take either
19:24 < micah> chrisc: it seems like all that needs to be sent out is an email saying that the tech group will be moving the site to mir unless a different codebase is decided by the time it is required that we move the site. This is due to necessity of the situation and if people want to change the code-base afterwards that is fine
19:24 < mtoups> what about sites like global.indymedia.org and tech.indymedia.org ? can we just kill those and/or ressurect them into better forms?
19:25 * micah thinks that tech.indy needs to be killed/archived
19:25 * chrisc nods
19:25 < mtoups> ok *I* will write up a proposal to that effect to imc-process then
19:25 < mtoups> also
19:25 < chrisc> mtoups: email abt www?
19:25 < mtoups> micah: do you want me to send out the listwork newsletter? so we can get that off of our minds
19:25 * Zapata quickly: go to  http://windsor.indymedia.org
19:26 < mtoups> chrisc: no, email about killing global.indy and tech.indy, they're outdated and not really used i think
19:26 < chrisc> k
19:26 * Zapata mentioned this before to some people, but perhaps someone here can do something about it
19:26 * Zapata i.e. dns change, archival of the old site
19:26 < micah> mtoups: umm, yeah it was just waiting for that list to be created, your spam results to be filled in, and alster's script to be removed if it wasn't finished, if you want to do that, please go ahead
19:27 * micah notes he had to bike to a public terminal to get back online, so doesn't have much luxury of computer right now
19:27 < mtoups> micah: ok, well if you can help me make sure i send it to the right people, that'd be good
19:27 < micah> mtoups: sure
19:27 < patrick> micah: we proposed to add donation advert bame/me/others will draft to your stallman migration email
19:27 < micah> should we wrap things up here?
19:27 -!- john [~ john@67.94.159.229] has left #meeting [Client Exiting]
19:27 < mtoups> yeah we need to
19:27 < micah> patrick: I dont understand what you said
19:28 < micah> patrick: only because of grammar parsing
19:28 < micah> lets wrap 'er up then, can someone who has them, post the logs to the wiki?
19:29 < patrick> I'll email you
19:29 < micah> mtoups: should we take care of that now?
19:29 < mtoups> micah: sure, you mean the listwork newsletter i assume
19:29 * chrisc has draft email to www, wouders about pasting it here
19:29 < micah> mtoups, chrisc you both said you had logs, can one of you put them up on the wiki?
19:29 < micah> chrisc: sure go for it
19:29 < chrisc> i can do logs
19:29 < micah> mtoups: yeh
19:29 < micah> chrisc: cool, thanks
19:30 < chrisc> draft email:
19:30 < chrisc> The migration of  http://www.indymedia.org/ was discussed
19:30 < chrisc> at a global tech meeting today people want to move the
19:30 < chrisc> site to mir unless a different codebase is decided by the
19:30 < chrisc> time it is required that we move the site. This is due to
19:30 < chrisc> necessity of the situation with stallman and if people
19:30 < chrisc> want to change the code-base afterwards that is fine.
19:30 < chrisc> The meeting also thought that it would be good to set up a
19:30 < chrisc> dedicated email list for this migration, how about:
19:30 < chrisc>  www-migration@lists.indymedia.org
19:30 < micah> patrick: ok, i am intending to send out this letter today, so whatever it is you want to add let me know asap
19:30 < mtoups> ok chrisc, we can create that list now ane make you and other people here list admins for it
19:31 < patrick> we wanted to put an adverstisement asking for donations for hosting, etc. stallman crisis on global site, also wanted to add this to your mirgration email
19:31 < chrisc> ok, so i should change the email to say that a list has been created and people can join it?
19:31 < micah> chrisc: looks good, just change "how about" to be "The list is here:" and maybe also add the wiki page for the migration, and the wiki for this meeting?
19:31 < chrisc> ok, i have 10mins b4 i need to go out...
19:31 < mtoups> quick proposal: when i write to IMC-Process and propose the destruction of tech.indymedia.org, can i say that IMC-tech consented to this decision at the meeting today? any objetoins/concerns?
19:32 < micah> patrick: ok, if you want to draft something up and send it on I can add the paypal info in it
19:32 < chrisc> patrick: do you have some wording to add abt donations etc?
19:32 < micah> mtoups: tech.indy is our site, so we don't really need to propose it to imc-process
19:32 < micah> mtoups: but global, yeah
19:32 -!- djbios-sea [~ jirc@64-40-53-45.nocharge.com] has quit [Quit: Leaving]
19:33 < patrick> tech.indy will be archived?
19:33 < micah> yeah
19:33 < mtoups> ok
19:33 < micah> no perm destruction of data anywhere!
19:33 < micah> terabytes of archives coming out of our ears
19:33 < chrisc> re: tech.indy how about running  http://httrack.com/ against it and replacing the current site with a static version of it with a note saying it's closed now?
19:33 < patrick> :]
19:33 < mtoups> well i'll just write to dns@indy and imc-tech@indy and request that the dns be removed then? and maybe the status changed in the contact db?
19:34 < patrick> chrisc: I'm totally lost, not sure what you're asking
19:34 < jb> chrisc: we may try this, but active resists very well things like this..
19:34 < mtoups> regarding global.indy -- it looks like it actually might be somewhat useful after all, maybe it should just be migrated to something less sucky
19:34 < jb> like: you cant run wget gainst active for some reason.
19:34 < patrick> in any case, I will write the darn advert and post it to the list/wiki to day
19:34 < chrisc> patrick: you said you have some text you wanted adding to the mail to www-features about the migration, text asking for donations?
19:34 < micah> yeah we just put something big on the page that says THIS SITE IS DEPRECATED, GO TO THIS URL <wiki url>
19:35 < micah> chrisc: can you get the logs posted to the wiki before you go? I need them to prepare the revised proposal stuff
19:35 < chrisc> jb: yeah i remember the uk active site had loads of infinite loops that confused httrack...
19:35 < patrick> chisrc: no, only to the migration email to the vast imc masses, not the few www-features folks
19:35 < chrisc> micah: logs, yes
19:35 < chrisc> patrick: ok
19:35 < micah> chrisc: cool, cheers
19:36 < patrick> cool
19:36 < chrisc> can someone set up www-migration list?
19:36 < matze> if the wget/httrack solution doesn't work we can setup a minimal active, just enoug to display the site. i did this for barcelona, it isn't messy
19:36 < micah> chrisc: mtoups and i will take care of it
19:36 < matze> just a couple of files
19:37 < chrisc> micah: ok, i can put this URI in email then?  http://lists.indymedia.org/mailman/listinfo/www-migration
19:38 < micah> chrisc: yeah, it'll be ready in a couple minutes
19:38 < mtoups> who wants to co-admin www-features? chris? me? anyone else?
19:38 < micah> chrisc: mtoups is going to make it now
19:38 < mtoups> more the merrier :)
19:39 -!- pabs [irc@localhost] has quit [Quit: night all]
19:39 < micah> lets call this meeting closed and head over to #tech to work
19:39 < mtoups> yeah
19:39 < mtoups> get yer butts on #tech
19:39 < mtoups> work work work
19:39 < chrisc> clara Zapata and might be interested in list moding?
19:39 < mtoups> yeah
19:39 < chrisc> and as in and@
19:39 < mtoups> ok can you invite them? i hate to make them opt-out
19:40 < chrisc> k

Did you make up your first quote or is it just sloppy research? 08.Aug.2004 23:43

Tired of the screed

"Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one." A.J.Liebling of the New Yorker

I am curious. I don't think Ben Franklin, who had many good quotes in his life, said what K.A. wrote he said. Did she just make up the quote? Or is this just sloppy research?

Beginning an article with a misattributed or fraudulent quote is not the way to endear oneself to readers. It makes us wonder about every quote after that first one. Of course, no news source is free from this stuff any more, witness USA Today and the N.Y.Times. But, despite lots of sloppiness in K.A.'s writings, I guess I expected more.

Someone prove me wrong. Show me a quote from Ben Franklin that comes close to the lead paragraph of K.A.'s article.

Heck, I'll put my money where my mouth is. I'll give a copy of one of A.J.Liebling's books to anyone who can find a Franklin quote that is remotely close. Or a small gift certificate to a meal at a good Seattle or Portland (vegetarian) restaurant.

Hint: it aint in Poor Richard's Almanack.

"Freedom of the press belongs, to those who own the presses." 09.Aug.2004 00:52

~Bradley

hey tired of the screed,

it took less than a minute to come up with several links attributing Ben Franklin to that quote. Of course I have no idea if he said it - i wasn't there, etc... - or if he heard someone else say it, then said it.... but i've definately heard people refer to Ben Franklin and "Freedom of the press belongs, to those who own the presses."

Type this into google: "Franklin" + "Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one"

"As the media critic AJ Liebling once observed (paraphrasing Ben Franklin), freedom of the press belongs to those who own the presses. ..." from GreenvilleOnline.com A liberal media? The facts just don't support the charge

You can keep the book and veggie meal.

There's research, then there's Internet research 09.Aug.2004 11:34

Tired of the screed

Dear Bradley,

Thanks for the comments. I had already done that.

Does it matter if someone says something or if it is attributed to them on the Internet (or via Google or other search engines)?


That was my point about USA Today and the N.Y.Times. They ran fraudulent stories by writers who made up facts that were convenient,bolstered their stories or gave them incredible credibility. You can still read those stories if you type in the names of the writers on Google. Does that make them true? In the case of USA Today, the stories just happened to be harshly critical of Cuba and supportive of the current campaign against "terrorism". Wonder why they slipped by?

I don't think Benjamin Franklin wrote or said what K.A. attributed to him. I think she just did sloppy research (if it's on Google, it's gotta be right) and moved on.

My offer still stands. If Ben Franklin said it or wrote it, then why doesn't it appear in the numerous indexed quotations from various Benjamin Franklin sites. The Google search only yields a bunch of writers who are throwing in a quote cause they like it and haven't a clue where it came from. 'A.J.Liebling? Who's he? It must have been Ben Franklin.'

If A.J.Liebling had wanted to say, "As Ben Franklin once said, freedom of the press belongs to those who own one." he would have done so. Not to deify him, but the guy actually researched his articles and was writing for people (the readers of the New Yorker) who would have caught him had he lifted the quote.

By the way, I am aware that the New Yorker is a journal written for rich people. It also published the first well-documented stories on the torture conducted by the U.S.military in prisons in Iraq. They also have fact-checkers. And if you're wondering why fact-checkers are important, can I suggest the movie "Shattered Glass"? Or the recent apologies from the editors of USA Today and the N.Y.Times.

to "Tired": Good point 09.Aug.2004 13:22

ne 1

Kirsten, I'm sure you'll agree, is not being remunerated the way Seymour Hersh, or AJ Liebling, or any other writer who writes for the New Yorker has been. So, this raises a good question: what level of fact checking, journalistic research, peer review, etc, should we expect from people who do "alternative," especially unpaid, work? Should we consider it beyond the pale that someone like Kirsten doesn't see fit to spend some time in a library researching Ben Franklin before reeling out a quote to set the context for the beginning of her article here? Or should we consider ourselves lucky that she took the time to write an article like this at all, and to call or email and interview all these people who are doing interesting work in the alternative media --work for which she hasn't gotten paid a dime? Surely, whether Franklin or Liebling made the observation in the beginning of the article is not crucial to the entire article. It is not the lynchpin of any kind of factual dispute or investigation, so I think we can make the argument for cutting her some slack on this one.

Also, one of the virtues of a format like indymedia is that it does have the capacity for a sort of "instant peer review," as we have just witnessed, with you chiming in to correct a misattributed quote. This, I would argue, is potentially a much more responsive way to correct errors, willful or otherwise, than is usually available with the unidirectional corporate media most people are more familiar with. So, rather than berating Kirsten, why not celebrate the fact that we are developing a form of many-to-many, democratic media that has allowed all of us, you included, these additional freedoms?

thoughts on this article 09.Aug.2004 14:01

ne 1

I enjoyed these interviews, but I find the format somewhat awkward. There is an ambiguity for me about where to post my comments, since it is in three distinct parts, and my remarks might range over several of the points you raised. So, I'm just going to add this comment to part 1.

I think the questions about what alternative media could be doing better, what people could be doing to support alternative media more, and what things have been successful, all get back to a single point, for me, which I don't think was addressed enough by the interviewees: Alternative media needs an audience! As one of the interviewees said, it is not enough to preach to the same choir all the time.

The other day, I got very excited, because my father, a man who is totally apolitical, and whose idea of "independent media" is watching The Discovery Channel occasionally, happened to be flipping channels on the TV, and had paused for a long time to watch channel 23, which was then showing Democracy Now!'s coverage of the Democratic National Convention, and Amy Goodman was playing lengthy excerpts from the audiorecordings of John Kerry's remarkable testimony to Congress during the Winter Soldier campaign in 1971, out of which testimony came his now famous line, "how do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

This, for me, was a perfect illustration of what alternative media needs to be doing. Every time someone like my father -- who would NEVER get exposed to the alternative media otherwise -- happens to just pick up on something like Democracy Now!, an important blow has been struck for diversity in media. The problem with alternative media is that its profile is way too low -- the odds of someone who isn't already seeking it out ever coming into contact with it is close to zero. In this respect, I would agree with Tim, in that the format of alternative media has to be visually appealing and professional enough to facilitate this. But, even more importantly, we need an army of activists getting this stuff out there as widely as possible. We need to exponentially increase the odds of someone like my father, who isn't already seeking this stuff out, to be able to just bump into it.

That is the secret of the corporate media's success -- it is the Starbucks strategy: total saturation. They don't have to have the best coffee, Fox News doesn't have to have the best reporters, the most credible or professional journalism, not when Rupert Murdoch can simply buy up tv stations and cable channels and newspapers one after another after another. So, to counter them, we need guerrilla tactics. We need to get as much stuff onto things like cable access as possible. We need more billboard liberations. We need to stuff magazines at the checkout counter with subversive literature. We need subversive detournements inside newspaper vending machines. Etc, etc. We need to use any and all means at our disposal to raise our profile, to break through the Starbucks strategy of corporate cultural saturation bombing. Probably, in order to do this, we need both more foot soldiers, and more boldness our own part among those of us already in the lists.

Once more people start to get these messages, the audience of people who seek them out will grow spontaneously, as will the resources and contributions from the public to keep operations going and help them grow. We are in a period in which the major establishment social institutions are threatened with an unprecedented crisis of legitimacy. This offers unprecedented opportunities for alternative media to thrive and contribute to social change. We need to grasp these opportunities like never before.

thanks evry 1 09.Aug.2004 23:10

~Bradley

Ok, thanks tired of the screed for your reply.

i thought i was pretty clever for a second ( ;

Google is very different from FOX, of course, but Google is a corporation and it is 'main stream'
...that's kinda funny. But, it's a different kind of "Don't believe everything you hear...."

ne 1, you've made some really excellent points! Thanks.

You mentioned people not getting paid a dime. Well, I think some people have.

I noticed on Infoshop.org that there was a fund raising effort and part of the fundraising mentioned a small stipend for some frequent contributors such as Kirsten. I was curious who has been paid and who hasn't. For some reason, it kind of matters, at least it some ways, right???

If someone works as a campaigns manager for Adbusters or as the webmaster of Infoshop.org, i would guess they did did receive a 'stipend' I use the '' around stipend because stipend seems like a funny word for small payment or payment. Money and alternative media... who's gonna write that article? Money and Indymedia....

...i volunteer my time for indymedia and free radio santa cruz. at free radio santa cruz, we programmers pay monthly dues to keep the station on the air. And, our monthly dues all added up do not even cover our rent...
FRSC relies also needs donations to stay on the air, and we organize benefit shows once in a while.

I think there are differences between:
A) Getting paid to work on Alternative Media >> Free Speech Radio News
B) No money exchanged to work on Alternative Media >> Portland Indymedia
C) Paying to work on Alternative Media >> Free Radio Santa Cruz

Ok, that was a rough break down! Much more needs to be discussed. The lines are indeed quite blurry!

Free Speech Radio News pays a small stipend if they play your news report... but, for the all time and other overhead that is put into the news report, the journalist is not making much money at all.

Portland Indymedia has no formal dues payment required like Free Radio Santa Cruz does, but I would assume that people are putting some of their own money into Portland Indymedia in the sense that Mini DVs need to get purchased for video, a space needs to be rented or donated for the Radio collective, etc... so, people are putting money into it, similar to Free Radio Santa Cruz. Plus people usually have to pay some money for their transportation when covering events.

Well, I don't want to run off on a tangent here, but those are just some of things that cross(ed) my mind.

I agree the format somewhat awkward. I'm not sure why it was done in three parts like that. I was also a bit surprised that everything I said was simply quoted... I thought it be summarized.
I can't complain about being mis-quoted ( ;

This is sound advice:

We need more billboard liberations. We need to stuff magazines at the checkout counter with subversive literature. We need subversive detournements inside newspaper vending machines.

Ok, one more thing... I'm not sure why somebody posted all that stuff from 'What happened to global indymedia's newswire?'

All that person had to do was ask, since they apparently did not see it...

Indymedia.org has a syndication newswire and an open-publishing newswire.
 http://indymedia.org/en/index.shtml#featureswire
 http://indymedia.org/en/index_open.shtml#openwire

thanks to all the people supporting "parallel" media, alternative media, and ((i))ndymedia.

And I should mention... If you want to listen to Free Radio Santa Cruz, you can!
 http://www.freakradio.org/listen.html
and, if you can send FRSC a donation of music, money, alternative media, fan mail or anything creative, please do!
 http://www.freakradio.org/donate.html

cascadia inspires me, thanks.

i am not perfect 10.Aug.2004 09:35

kirsten anderberg kirstena@resist.ca

Look, everyone, I am not perfect, nor do I claim to be. I turn out a huge amount of material, you can nit pick at it, but I do not just throw out a bunch of sloppy crap as is inferred here. I work really hard at making sure I do fact finding, organizing, etc. I spend hours and hours of time a day and per article, often, doing research, and no, not all on google. I have huge hard copy files of things I have saved for writing articles over a 30 year period. I did not even think about that Ben Franklin quote, quite honestly. I remember reading his autobiography and I could swear that is where I heard it, never thought of it again. You never know what will raise a hair on someone. I wrote about the underground railroad and received a long series of letters from a guy saying that never happened. You cannot win going public as a writer in ways.

I made this article into 3 parts because I wanted to include everyone's views and I thought they all were worthy of reading. I started to paraphrase it, then it got really bulky, and I began to realize that it was just as easy to do it as a straight interview. I even consulted with other writers re the format as it was awkward. But a 15 page article seemed unfathomable, and to cut things out seemed not good too. So this is the format it came in! Even with this format, it took me hours of organizing. FOR FREE. Out of love. Not to piss people off. Not to lead some conspiracy misquoting Ben Franklin...I cannot please everyone.

I do not claim to be perfect. Being perfect is not part of the job decription for "writer." I try my best to be a good writer and offer unique material to the public for free, most often, and I can live with that. Sometimes I make mistakes, but I can live with that too.