portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article questions portland metro

media criticism

I don't understand the new policy

i'm confused about the new no corporate news policy
i understand that indy wants to encourage people to write more original commentary. but it also sounds like indy thinks people shouldn't be reading corporate news, here or elsewhere (how else do you live by 'fuck the corporate media'?) are people being encouraged to only write and read what we can come up with w/o corporate news sources?

and if not (if the policy is 'it's okay to post corporate news stories as long as you preface them with your own spin'), how is this substantially different than allowing folks to repost and let the indy threads that follow do the deconstructing?

no disrespect, i just don't get it.

you ask more than one question 02.Dec.2004 10:20

and here's what i think about some of them

you said: "it also sounds like indy thinks people shouldn't be reading corporate news, here or elsewhere (how else do you live by 'fuck the corporate media'?)"

i don't think "indy" thinks anything, actually. first of all, portland indymedia is not a traditional activist organization with membership, etc., so who is "indy" is an impossible thing to ascertain fully. that being said, of the individuals involved in promoting the portland indymedia tactic/concept, they all have different opinions about stuff, including the usefullness or lack thereof of corporate media. presonally, i rarely read it. sometimes i'll pick up the pdx tribune because they've got a story about some urban development happening in the city regarding zoning, planning, etc. those articles tend to be fairly factual for the most part, and you can at least get a handle on the basics of what's going on. when it comes to other issues, like "terrorism", though, and specifically how local Muslim people might or might not be involved, it's a terrible newspaper, and often has racist under/overtones. so i don't read that stuff, because i don't need the poison in my brain. overall, i'll go months without reading that paper, and i can tell i ain't missin' out.

if you want to write something up about a current event, and cite corporate media articles, that's fine by the new policy. mike ruppert, famed 9/11 investigator, uses that model, for example, and i know his ideas and methods are respected by many who work on indymedia around here.

what's not cool is just posting a corporate media article, all by itself. what the new policy hopes to encourage is more work and creativity. if you're going to post a corporate media article, get into exactly why it's important for you to do so. either it sucks, and if so, why (in some detail), or if it's actually good, why (also in some detail). a good way to summarize: "no" to passive reposting, "yes" to active analysis.

hope that helps.

"no" to passive reposting, "yes" to active analysis! 02.Dec.2004 11:42

Bedposter

"no" to passive reposting, "yes" to active analysis.
Thanks for that. With those few words you've said a lot.

And to the original publisher --
Personally, there have been many times I've come across an article on some corporate site that is really interesting and is one of those stories that just must be heard. But have resisted the temptation to repost here. I suspect that those "important" stories will rise to the surface and the typical IMC reader will hear about it anyway from one source or another.

I don't think IMC was ever meant to be a BLOG site, but to an extent that is what it has become. Largely this is due to the complete freedom to post. But notice that the button in the upper right corner does not say "Post", it says, "Publish". Quite different words.

I'm not speaking for Portland IMC, not a volunteer and have only been to one meeting. But speaking for myself, to "Publish" implies that you really have something to say. It implies a responsibility to say it well and completely.

Have you ever noticed how most local news services simply re-post stories from Associated Press? AP is the publisher and the local station is really just reposting.

So I'm not gonna try to tell others what to do, or how to thing, or give support to this or that initiative. But' I am gonna say that whenever I press that "Publish" button, I do so with a sense reverence and gratitude to those who make it possible. And I try to do my very best to make a solid contribution. I cherish the freedom to publish here and feel tremendous responsibility whenever I do so.

reply 02.Dec.2004 12:58

indy geek

"and if not (if the policy is 'it's okay to post corporate news stories as long as you preface them with your own spin'), how is this substantially different than allowing folks to repost and let the indy threads that follow do the deconstructing?"


One reason is because many corporate news articles go up and are not deconstructed by the ensuing comments if any. While it is great when that happens, all too often it does not and that article is left standing by itself or the comments are off on some tangent and not addressing the lies/misrepresentations.

Also, there is more to critiquing a story than spinning it. Prefacing it with your own spin as a statement needs some deconstructing right there. Many corporate media articles tell lies, or lie by omission. Pointing this out is not adding spin. Rather it is unspinning it from its distorted shape to more clearly reflect reality.

Disturbed water will not be easy to see through. A good critique is like a glass bottom boat, allowing one to look down into the water and see what is there.

Thanks for honest questions -

great questions, great replies 02.Dec.2004 13:59

indy volunteer

Given your questions "not too smart" you sound pretty smart to me. This is not only an issue of policy, but one of history and vision so without that framework it would be hard to understand "policy". That is why this dialog is taking place. In a practical sense, this policy does not mean that no corporate media reposts will be on the newswire. I have not talked to a single volunteer who is interested in "policing" the newswire and composting all corporate media (that is reading every post and making a decision to compost it or not). So, you might wonder why make this change at all. And to answer that I need only point to this article and the others discussing these issues. As the website has grown, and it has grown substantially in the past year, more and more people come to the site without an understanding of what "indymedia" really is, or perhaps what the volunteers are working toward. The newswire had become cluttered in the eyes of many who have been writing emails and talking to volunteers in person by all the straight corporate media reposts, many of which were not of interest to people within the community.

So this has provided the volunteers an opportunity to enter into a dialog about what their vision is. My vision is a site with no reliance on corporate media except in the case of criticism. But we are a ways from that right now. But, in my mind, the site has been moving away from empowering people to write, report, analyze, think critically, be creative, and toward a passive consumer existence. "Here's the corporate media, write your comments" rather than "Write your story and share your perspective". I know it doesn't sound like much, the difference between posting something for comments and writing an equivalent comment to preface a corporate media article, but it really is. It's not just placement on the web page; it's about the approach and the mindset which are radically different. It is different to *think* "I think everyone should read this because..." and post a straight corporate media story and to *write* "I think everyone should read this because..." and post the same story. It changes the roles and it changes the paradigm. For those that don't see that than I would say let's see how people feel. Right now, I think the site looks great. There are predominantly great articles and great comments. There are plenty of people, who despite either disagreeing or at least being unsure of this change are still actively contributing to see if this works.

There have also been a lot of great comments written in agreement and disagreement with the policy that show that people do have the time to write intelligent, passionate, honest commentary so I'd have to say at this point I'm finding this experiment to be a tremendous success. I still don't feel like people always understand where I am coming from. But, like other volunteers I'm using this opportunity to try and put my thoughts and feelings out there so that people can have at least a better idea of what I, as a volunteer, am trying to accomplish and why this work is important to me.

And if this, or the other comments, have only muddied the waters, then ask more good questions. I guarantee you are not the only person who is confused or feels like they "just don't get it". I see indymedia a different paradigm, and that means it's not going to be easy to understand at first glimpse. People know what a blog is (now), what a discussion forums/bulletin board is (now), what a "news" site is (now). In my mind indymedia is not any of those and I recognize my role to keep trying to help people understand what I'm looking to do. It's not just about discussion, it's about empowering people to tell their stories, their thoughts and dispelling the notion that only someone with a degree in journalism is "qualified" to tell people's stories. I don't have a degree in journalism but I've learned that no one can tell my story better than myself. One thing I've learned about journalism is that you cannot report accurately on something you do not understand (hence corporate media stories on protests). My best experience with journalism was from a small paper that had a reporter who interviewed me (unrelated to indymedia) and in the article he overwhelmingly used my quotes to tell my perspective. I continue to have a lot of respect for that reporter because the perspective I was giving him was new to him, but rather than trying to use his words to describe it he let me tell my story (and not just the token quotes you see far too often in corporate media to pretend that they're representing all sides in an "unbiased" way). That's what I want to see more of.

Sounds good, but... 03.Dec.2004 15:22

almost agreeing

As far as local news, there really isn't any reason to get it from corporate media, and I think your policy is correct. The problem is, as far as I know Indymedia doesn't have any reporters in, say, Haiti (if it does, then that is awesome), and most Haitians don't have computers or know how to use one, so I don't see how else we are going to get any news from that area. Sometimes, in world affairs, it seems that the best place to go is really the corporate media, unfortunately. Maybe it's time to send out some Indymedia foreign reporters, or donate some computers to all the third-world countries, or something of that nature.