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Don't Give Me No Lip, "What's wrong with Mimicking Corporate Media"

-- A response to Jennifer Whitney's article on indymedia, which can be found here

The spirit of critique and wanting to help move indymedia forward is something I really appreciate. However, Jennifer Whitney's article, "The Good, The Bad, & (sic) The Ugly: "What's the Matter with Indymedia?" is one part critique, and two parts personal axe grinding, three parts "Ra! Ra! UC, NYC, 501-c(3) IMC" . Beyond the fact that the article is so deliberately misleading in many ways, it should be critiqued on the facts and arguments that it proposes about editorial policy and the mission of indymedia. To its credit, this article raises some of the right types of questions about indymedia's effectiveness and methods, but to its detriment, gives all the wrong answers. Rather, it gives short sighted answers or all the same 'ol answers.

Let me be transparent about the fact that I disagree with taking indymedia in the direction of corporate media and that I am using the indymedia tactic in Portland and work collectively with others here. Yes, I take the deliberate singling out of Portland personally and, Yes, she is coming from a place of personal dissatisfaction and grinding her axe using non-independent media (read "you pay for it or get paid") to broadcast her upset. I find her attitude self-congratulatory and self-important in almost every place in this article. Because the article and her comments to responses to the article put themselves in a position of being critical of people exhibiting these attitudes and so hypocritically does just the same, it deserves a good dose of its own medicine. The article, when being critical of people who use the indymedia tactic, is so much the pot calling the kettle black and the stone thrower in the glass house. At times my article may sound self-congratulatory or self-important, but it will come from a place of defense instead of offense and most importantly is not trying to deny that it feels important or wishes to congratulate itself where warranted. Lastly, I would say it to her face.

My method of rebuttal here will be to take apart the article primarily in the order in which is was written, but expanding on other issues where relevant. The structure of her article is roughly: (1) History of IMC (particularly Seattle); 2 paragraphs, (2) Introduce critique of editorial policies; 1 paragraph, (2) Give personal credentials; 1 paragraph, (3) Frustrations with indymedia; 2 paragraphs, (4) Discuss indymedia in the framework of communication and social change; 3 paragraphs, (5) Editorial Policies; 2 paragraphs, (6) Grind Axe on Portland Indymedia; 3 paragraphs, (7) Problems with communication modalities in Indymedia and NYC/UC quote; 2 paragraphs, (8) Example of Mexico City IMC; 2 paragraphs, (9) Access and Money; 3 paragraphs, (10) Indymedia as "Journalism" and rationalization of taking money including quotes from two more different NYC/UC IMCistas; 6 paragraphs, (11) Conclusion and quote from NYC/UC IMCistas; 2 paragraphs, (12) Exemplary IMCs. I will refer to quotes in the article using these rough section numbers as a guide.

Quoting from section 1:

The newborn IMC (Seattle) provided the most in-depth and broad-spectrum coverage of the historic direct actions against the World Trade Organization that fall. Despite (emphasis mine) having no advertising budget, no brand recognition, no corporate sponsorship, and no celebrity reporters, it received 1.5 million hits in its first week.
I think it is precisely because of the choice of a different path to making media that Seattle IMC had, at that time, 1.5 million hits in its first week and not "Despite". It is also most likely because of their movement down a path of dependency on corporate sponsorship for rent and internet connectivity that they are barely functional today. Moving down a path toward dependence on money to do indymedia work moves away from what makes it so successful. Whitney's analysis here and later belies a different set of values.

Quoting from section 1 in the same paragraph as above:

The site embraced the do-it-yourself ethic completely, meaning that there were no restrictive site managers, editors, or word-count limits. At the time, such restrictions seemed dictatorial, oppressive--counterrevolutionary, even. Now, I find them rather appealing.
Those things are still counter-revolutionary. Of course, the author of the article finds them appealing. The article itself is counter revolutionary. The article is not really pro imperialist or anything like that, but simply comes from a reformist or status quo point of view. The point of view of the article and arguments leading from it can be best be summed up by saying, "indymedia should be a reform of the way corporate media does things, writing in the same style with the similar editorial criteria." This is not to say that some editorial policing of an indymedia site are not necessary for pragmatic reasons. At Portland, for example, if many duplicate, corporate reposts, and hate speech posts were not monitored, the newswire would be flooded due to the sheer number of postings from the community and users from around the world. Still, let's not kid ourselves and say that doing these pragmatic things are not short of revolutionary, because they are short of revolutionary, but they can be necessary to make the site usable with so many posts.

Quoting from section 3:

On the anniversary of the Iraq invasion earlier this year, I was in Mexico, trying to get information about antiwar protests around the United States. I looked at IMC sites based in cities where I knew there were actions, and found nothing. Eventually, I found what I was looking for--on the BBC. The experience, unfortunately, is not uncommon. Each time I try and find news among the Indymedia drivel, I ask myself the same question: What happens when--in our attempts not to hate the media but to be it--we end up hating the media we've become?
Section 10 of the article critiques the laziness of indymedia "journalists" and other sections attack the lack of fact finding and research of articles posted to indymedia. Here, in this same article is a glaring example of laziness and lack of fact checking. If, in fact, laziness and not deliberate omission is what is at work. As an example, good old Portland Indymedia Web Radio, of which I am a part, was broadcasting coverage of the J20 events in Portland all day, with several phone calls from other US IMCs, who were also covering the events all day, as well as calls from Germany and the Netherlands and coverage read off of other indymedia websites. Here is a link to the entire radio coverage on indytorrents.org from J20 which was broadcast live and made available for download soon after. This begs the question as to which indymedia websites Jennifer Whitney was watching on the anniversary of the Iraq invasion. Anyone can guess which they were and which they weren't. As to the question of hating the media we've become, some of us are not self-loathing indymedia practitioners. I love the media that indymedia is enabling. It is done in a more just and more enabling way than the media models of old. It is coming from different people, about different things, for the benefit of different people. If it doesn't look like "journalism" of old to you, that's because it isn't. That is its strength. That's what makes me love it and what makes others hate it.

In section 3, Whitney is commenting about her frustrations with indymedia sites. She says, "The few original articles are frequently riddled with unsubstantiated claims, rumors, dubious anonymous sources, bad writing, and/or plagiarism." Firstly, the sites that do not have a lot of original articles are typically those that are run by people who are themselves the writers and have not built a community of writers beyond the collective or 501(c)3 as the case may be. Secondly, modern "journalism", corporate or otherwise money involved, even Whitney's precious BBC, are riddled with these same things. The real riddle is whether or not indymedia posters mimicking these "journalistic" practices would do things differently and for the same reasons as those journalists. Those reasons, to name a few, being; unsubstantiated claims, plagiarism, and dubious anonymous claims due to deadline pressures; rumors due to trying to stir up sales; and bad writing due to lack of passion. I worked on a school newspaper for four years and have writers and newspaper editors in my family, so I can attest to those problems as they stand in even non-corporate "journalism". We all know down what road the extension of the practice of these holds in the form of truly corporate media.

Later in section 3 Whitney says, 'If the goal of Indymedia is, as its mission statement says, "the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of the truth," we are clearly falling short.' I disagree. Most sites are certainly radical, certainly passionate, and from the standpoint that what one experiences in the world is truth, it is true. If indymedia as whole was to go down the dark path, as some are doing, towards something reformist, aligned with status quo vision of the world, and dispassionate in the "journalistic" sense it would clearly be falling short of its mission. The mission of indymedia is to enable individuals to become their own media, to give voice to the voiceless, and to create a new media community around those people. Using this as a yard stick, some measure up, some don't. Whitney's point of view barely registers on this scale.

In section 4 Whitney says, "(But) the burden to communicate effectively belongs to the active party--the teller--not the audience." Isn't the listener or audience actively engaged in any dialogue of any value? Certainly. They should be just as active in the process as the writer. This is what indymedia should, in contrast to "journalistic" practices, do. The world that Whitney apparently wants to see is one very much like the corporate/money media of today. That is, where the reader of the paper, the listener of the radio, or watcher of the TV is supposed to just sit there and have things pushed at them. On the contrary, real communication involves push and pull. Indymedia should seek to pull information from the community it serves and not push things at them.

Later in section 4 Whitney says, "And (sic) if we have so little respect or concern for our audience, what on earth are we doing working in a medium based entirely in communication?" My thoughts exactly. To have respect for our audience means to appreciate their intelligence and ability to sort out fact from fiction, truth from lies, passion from rhetoric. They do not need to be spoonfed, told how to spell, or otherwise led like a horse to water as to what is the truth.

She later says, "Simply put, an unread article changes nothing." It also holds that an article that is widely read containing ideas from status quo changes nothing. Those seeds that Whitney speaks of in this article are all those passionate articles, full of spelling mistakes, that tell the writer's story in an unorganized fashion, but true to their experience, that are only read by a few. Those seeds land in the mind of someone who thought that journalism was something that you passively absorbed, done by people who get paid, who write dispassionately, and grammatically. Then that someone sees things differently and realizes that they can tell their truth also. The seeds of little status quo independent journalists are sterile, they will not grow.

Speaking about the effectiveness of writing styles Whitney says,"People don't read sloppy, unedited, or disorganized stories; they don't look at bad photographs or videos." That is certainly not the truth. Getting out my red pencil on the subject of sloppy editing and perfectionism in spelling and grammar, one should never begin a sentence with the word "and". Certainly, they shouldn't do it repeatedly throughout their article. The correct placement of semi-colons is also important for clarity. A poor use of the semi-colon is exhibited in the quote above. I also believe it's "counter-revolutionary" and not "counterrevolutionary". I would suppose that most word processing programs have grammar, as well as spelling checkers, for those interested in the finer points. I am going to give Whitney's article a 'B-' for grammar.

Section 6 is essentially an axe grinding against Portland Indymedia. I would like to respond to its claims about Portland with respect to editorial policy surrounding hate speech, but the content is so irrelevant because of its untimeliness that it's barely possible to talk about, as is obvious from the comments to the article on UC-IMC from pdximcista. I have been doing indymedia in Portland since 2002, which is after the dissolution of the previous collective structure and process with which Whitney was interacting. The attacks that Whitney mounts are against things that I have never experienced once in (3) three years running. It amounts to the kind of testimony that Colin Powell gave to the UN about weapons in the middle east. Way out of date, from a disreputable source, and deliberately used to mislead the reader. It's either that or pure laziness.

The other thing Whitney attacks Portland for in section 6 is the redistribution of IMCs on the cities list into regions that reflect non-imperialist demarcations of land. She dares not directly state whether she agrees with the intent of Portland to erase the imperialist drawn boundaries, but rather attacks the precision with which the cities where put into the correct regions. Does Whitney like the borders and names the way they are? We are not certain. But we are certain that the 15 hours that someone put into making a starting point for a non-imperialist list where not appreciated. It seems that Whitney doesn't appreciate any of the hard work of people at Portland, except in respect to technical issues.

The truth is that Portland does things well in many areas, other than just technical things. It is one of the most used sites in the indymedia network on many scales along with Italy, NYC, and Indybay, despite what Whitney may have thought about the usability of the site. Portland stands out from IMCs like NYC and UC in Portland's commitment to making indymedia about enabling posters, promoting autonomy, and not going down the dark road of mixing money with media. But, Portland doesn't stand out in this respect from most of the other IMCs. Most IMCs are coming from the same place as Portland in general, even though internal processes may be somewhat different.

Principles are very important to most Portland IMCistas and they generally find it hard to compromise on these. But, they are, at the same time, willing to work with anyone, even those that we disagree with on some issues or are reformists because we have more in common with them than we do with corpo media. Portland has well reputed video and audio groups as well. Groups that have helped to make convergences and social justice events and coverage from them possible in Sacramento WTO, Miami FTAA, San Francisco BIODEV, Cancun FTAA, New York RNC, Scotland G8, Washington DC, and other places. Portland's commitment to the indymedia network is to provide mutual aid of any kind, to create an environment where trust is more important than process, and share/learn experiences with other IMCs that will create nothing short of a revolutionary shift in media. This is how I experience myself and others in Portland IMC. I experience that with many of my comrades that I have met at other IMCs. I speak for myself only.

In section 9 about access to media Whitney says, "Certain local groups have breached the digital divide, even if only for a brief spell. Seattle set a strong precedent during the week of the WTO protests by printing 2,000 copies of the daily paper The Blind Spot and distributing them on the streets during the actions." It is clear from this quote and others later about indymedia print projects that Whitney places a lot of value on the older printer model of media. This is not in itself a bad thing. But, it is also clear that Whitney does not seem to fully "get it" as far as what the indymedia revolution is really all about with respect to its new models, including digital technology.

Whitney seems to accept that printing is dependent on money and access to a printing press based on her comments about funding and use of comments from NYC about their print projects. Since the advent of modern written language, access to publication of ones writing has been very limited. There has always been a publisher that controls this access. Copies of books where at first handwritten. What books were copied and how much they cost limited access. Since the advent of the printing press more could be done. However, still access to a printing press required significant capital or significant approval from a publisher who had that capital to widely distribute ones writing. Till the advent of the digital domain and the internet, that's there things were, so far as print are concerned. Those whose voices we have heard in history, politics and culture (before tv and radio) were those that could access a printing press. Ben Franklin was a printer. His buddies Jefferson and Adams got some cheap printing deals on there writings, including the Federalist Papers and others. Marx and Engels are another example. Communist Manifesto or Das Kapital without free printing? Nope. This was closed publishing. There was, of course, open publishing in the form of community bulletin boards, word of mouth, or whatever you copy out by hand.

The use of digital media and the ability for open publishing to eclipse closed publishing (like printing) is a major part of the revolution of indymedia at this stage in the game. The critique that only those with internet access can get access to the website to post their writings is accurate. But, when compared with the lack of access, costs, burdens, and environmental waste of the printing process it looks real good. The fact that a poster to an indymedia can have their ideas accessible to others all over the world is really a total shift. Not only are these ideas widely available, but they are available along with the writings others who are concerned about social justice and the ability to have a dialogue is there.

The bottom line is that, in the scheme of things, getting something in print comes with a wide area of access problems. To print a paper costs money. The more you print the more money you need. So you have be selective about which articles and what lengths of articles you choose. Then you might have to edit even those articles for length based on layout issues. If you need enough money, you might not be able to be independent and have to get money from advertising. Then, if you want to survive you need to stay in line with your advertisers. If you piss them off you are in trouble. So, you should better not print anything they won't like. We all know where this leads. The digital era erases these access problems for the written word. Having to get access to the internet is by far less burdensome and yields more voice. This doesn't mean we have no work to do in terms of access. We just need to focus it on the right things.

In section 10 Whitney is discussing what it means to be a "journalist" and what she feels is the laziness of posters to indymedia as well as a rationalization of taking money for indymedia work. This section reminds me of the talk that Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! gave at the US indymedia conference in Austin, TX earlier this year. It just doesn't understand the audience to which it is speaking. Amy Goodman thought she was talking to bunch of people who are writing articles to websites. When, in fact, she was talking to a group of people who were hopefully trying to encourage others in their community to write articles. Same here in this section. Whitney just doesn't get the soul of indymedia. She's coming from a point of view that is just a re-hash of old models or things with which she is already comfortable. Indymedia is not, "..lacking good journalists". If anything, it is lacking enough enablers of journalism. Again, indymedia should not be about pushing content to passive readers, but pulling content from active posters. If one wants to use the old model and tactics, just start your own independent newspaper or website and write or edit the damn articles.

She also cites, "(It's) the lack of journalistic principles, and the laziness." I think what's most at issue is what our principles are and our courage to see them through. Whitney and others that share her viewpoint are frustrated with the "quality" of articles that they are seeing. But, they are mostly scared of going into uncharted territory. The process of revolutionary change requires commitment to principles, stick-to-it-tiveness, patience and courage. What we are seeing from posters to our websites today is the revolutionary shift in the way in which media is made in transition, in process. We are young yet in this more free and open expression. We should not stunt our own growth or break our own spirit because what we see now offends our sense of good writing or causes us to fear ineffectiveness. Essentially, I see Whitney's viewpoint as short-sighted, fearful, impatient, and desirous of a return to the old.

Later in the section on laziness she says:

People seem to forget that writing and photography are skills that people develop over many years. They are not unattainable, they are not rocket science--but it's the worst sort of arrogance to think that your very first article, unedited, should make it to the front page.
I believe on the contrary that is the worst sort of arrogance to think that someone else's very first article, unedited, should not make it to the front page. So much of Whitney's article is really an argument against itself. She quotes Tarleton as saying, "We're not doing the paper (Indypendent) to boost the ego of our writers. It's for our readers-- to give them the best possible information within our limited ability and resources." This seems like bizzaro speak to me. If it was not to boost the ego of the writers than why not purely use submissions from outside the Indypendent collective in general? Is there anything wrong with the people in an indymedia project enabling each other as writers and putting out a paper? No. But let's drop the pretense.

Whitney then focuses on taking money for media work.

Some (often anonymous) folks tend to accuse independent journalists of having "sold out" if we publish in corporate outlets, make money as journalists, take ads in our publications, or demand high quality or even rewrites of submissions. But that means media in which talent and skill are punished, mediocrity rules, and we all hold hands and congratulate each other for "telling it like it is," even when few can understand the telling. Is that really the kind of media we want?
Talent and skill aren't being punished. Sacrificing integrity for what must be done to the article to get the money and falling down the slippery slope are being punished. A media where privilege, money, control, and column inches rule is not the media we want either. We want a media where people have the courage to stick to some principles and learn from the mistakes of others. Does Whitney deny that such a thing exists as selling out? It exists all around us in the media. It is, in fact, in a large way exactly what we are fighting against. Are people doing indymedia work some how immune to selling out? Did a good percentage of NPR reporters not start their careers thinking they were fighting the good fight? This is doubtful. People do sell out. But, the way is clear. Take no money for your indymedia work and you sacrifice nothing. The question is not laziness, but fear of conviction to principles and opportunism. I think it is fine to do media work for money, just not indymedia work. Keep those two separate for me, thank you. We want people to be able to trust us.

Particularly chilling in this article is a quote from Joshua Breitbart:

Indymedia's biggest problem is that it is unique. People want it to solve every problem, to be all things to all people, and it just can't do everything. Some of the practices and tools that we've developed can be taken out and put into other struggles and communities where they can gain new relevance--be experimented on in new ways. We should be thinking about how to make it no longer unique, so it's not so valuable, because we have other independent media available.
I believe that indymedia shouldn't solve every problem. But, did I understand the rest correctly? What can I say? Jesus fucking Christ! Et tu Joshua?

Whitney's closes the article with, "The best journalists are the ones who provoke, who pose a real threat to the status quo." I couldn't agree more. Whitney's article is just a restatement of that status quo, and as such, poses no real threat, except in its ability to divide us. One of the very last lines of the article on UC-IMC is my favorite and sums it up for me, "This article is copyrighted material, the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner." Nuff said.


the key is not to become cynical 30.Jul.2005 14:26

evolution

Let me start by pointing out one thing that I disagree with concerning salaud's response. He writes "Take no money for your indymedia work and you sacrifice nothing." I think his response makes a larger point than this, a point which I agree with, but which is betrayed by that sentence. Make no mistake (as "W" would say), money is a huge issue, probably the biggest cause of people selling out and then justifying it after the fact (as people do when they have to support families and et cetera ... it really is a slippery slope). But money is not the only thing that causes complacency. Fear is a huge component. In some ways it is a natural response to try and achieve some level of comfort, to maintain the status quo, on a psychological level. So to say that to take no money is to sacrifice nothing slightly misses the point. Taking money out of the equation solves a lot of things, but it doesn't solve everything.

On that note I want to say that I largely agree with salaud's assessment of the current situation. I especially agree with his statement that "trust is more important than process". One of the major problems that I see in activist media (inside and outside of indymedia) is an almost blind faith in process to get us to our goals. Process is important, it is something that is developed over time and contains a good degree of wisdom, but in no way is it an absolute. It is a guideline, and it is also true that there is not one correct way to do things. There are many templates that can be equally successful in any number of given circumstances. So having pride and blind faith in process and adhering to it strictly without thinking is very self serving and in many ways impedes progress.

I have been involved with indymedia here in portland for several years, although mainly on a peripheral level. I can understand where the writer of the original article is coming from. I often find myself being extremely critical of the effectiveness of indymedia in general. Indymedia is not only a news source, but also an organizing tool, and sometimes these two purposes conflict. The stories contained on a given indymedia site are very subjective, but I see that as a strength. It is misleading to claim objectivity when reporting on an issue, and the important thing, like salaud says, is not necessarily pushing a supposedly objective story at an audience, but creating a meaningful dialogue. However, dialogues on indymedia sites often spiral into a mess of name calling and other non productive tactics. I also think that (following somewhat in the theories of people like DeBord) indymedia to some extent has become co opted and become part of a larger "spectacle". My point is that although I am very critical of indymedia, and I agree that various indymedias are flawed in a plethora of ways, it is when people like myself reach the point of cynicism that positive change begins to die.

Indymedias often claim to be hardcore enablers of independent journalism. While this is true to a degree, there is much progress to be made in this area. Skill sharing is an important aspect in this whole process that is often overlooked. I also often have trouble trusting a political movement that fails to fully embrace art, because in the end it is the politicians who sell out and the artists who are left as the voice of the people.

Another short point that I want to make is that precluding someone from having a front and center article just because they are inexperienced or new sets up a detrimental hierarchy that is not based at all on the quality or content of that person's story.

My final comments are going to be about Portland Indymedia in particular. My experience with PDX IMC has been largely with the audio collective, which I have seen grow and become somewhat successful over the past few years. We have (thanks largely to salaud and Arturo Commando) reached out to many other audio groups around the country who are attempting similar feats, and the feeling now is that there is some momentum behind this, where before there was very little. We have had very effective coverage of events, one of the shining examples being the coordinated coverage of the RNC in NYC. We have had people calling in from all over the country and world reporting on events that corporate news didn't pick up until far later, if at all. We have many radio shows which cater to art as well as politics, and offer both serious discussion and comic relief. We also take part in Critical Mass Radio on the last week of every month, which has produced a lot of surprising and important content that is not available anywhere else.

The video collective is very energetic and has done some amazing work, putting in a lot of their own time and money to get content that the corporate news isn't willing to risk getting. The tech people have held this all together in what I think is a revolutionary way. They definitely are at odds with the status quo. It may be true that there are a lot of hard headed people involved with indymedia here in Portland, but we are hard headed out of love and purpose. We are trying to get things right.

Cynicism is the real enemy here, and I think that if indymedia started to lose that glimmer of hope that it gives us now, many of us would evolve and create other revolutionary alternatives. So I may have gotten a little off point here, and this may not be a front page comment, but this is my contribution to this discussion, which may well turn out to be very productive and important.

yeah, so what? 30.Jul.2005 23:46

.

"Another short point that I want to make is that precluding someone from having a front and center article just because they are inexperienced or new sets up a detrimental hierarchy that is not based at all on the quality or content of that person's story."

I don't know what this means. If anything.

There is a tautology in there, if we ignore "detrimental hierarchy". If we ignore the tautology, we are told the "precluding someone [...] sets up a detrimental hierarchy", whilst our experience is that an existing hierarchy makes preclusion possible and likely.

If we imagine for a moment that it means something, why do you say it where you say it?

Does ImcPortlend exclude new or inexperienced people? Is ImcPortland controlled by a detrimental hierarchy?

The features column certainly puts the lie to the first. If the second is true, they a very clever cabal.

So... what does that paragraph mean? And what is your intent?

comments 31.Jul.2005 01:12

PDX Dragon

For folks like Jennifer Whitney, the desire for making money as a journalist, forces them to condemn a true peoples media, overtly, or covertly. There is a conflict of interest in empowering people to tell their stories because that would reduce the chance to retain a paid position.

Newsflash - indymedia is about the business of putting the journalist out of business. People can tell their own stories just fine when they have a chance and can find their own voice.

Beware the person who tells you that you need them as a go between and who profits from it! The priest and the journalist are similar in this respect. Journalism is an ingrown institution. Concerned about their own self image and standing. That is one reason for the dogma of objectivity, because it fosters the pattern of content provider and consumer which is necessary for the paycheck. It subtly keeps people in the passive role.

paid v. unpaid 31.Jul.2005 02:13

Jehosophat

The same objection to journalists being paid could be raised about any of the professions. They all in some sense mediate in ways that can breed dependence and passivity (e.g., the doctor breeds dependence on others for health, rather than learning how to sustain their own health, the lawyer maintains dependence on legal professionals to protect their rights, rather than being able to represent themselves, etc). OTOH, there is something to be said for the skills of an excellent journalist, an excellent doctor, an excellent lawyer, etc. It would be pretty hard to acquire and practice such skills in our society without getting paid, unless you were born into a life of wealth and leisure.

It would be best if we could have the best of both worlds (ie, a system that respected the individual and his or her need for autonomy and self actualization, but that also made available and accessible to them the skills of these professionals when they needed them, and that made it possible for these professionals, in turn, to practice their skills without THEMSELVES becoming dependent on and servile to big business interests, like HMOs, media corporations, etc). I think the best of both worlds is possible. It will require something markedly different from the kind of capitalism we live under now, of course. In the meantime, notwithstanding the existence of Indymedia and other independent sources, the question still remains very much open: how to make real, independent, top-notch journalism, and how to make sure the journalists doing it can feed themselves and their families in the process, without having to prostitute themselves to commercial interests.

You're Proving Jennifer's Point 31.Jul.2005 10:09

Matt

This post is an example of exactly the kind of thinking Whitney critiques. Instead of engaging with her article, you set up a strawman of "corporate media", opposed to the "revolutionary" media apparently embodied by pdx imc, and then argue that by doing things differently from portland, nyc and uc imcs are inevitably becoming reformist or corporate media. What you ignore, along with pretty much the entire point she's trying to make, is that A) most people outside of activist subculture either find indymedia useless, due to the reasons Whitney cites, or more often aren't aware of it at all and B) the most opressed people in this society generally don't have regular or easy access to the internet even if they are aware of things like indymedia. The reason why nyc (where I am a volunteer) publishes 15,000 or so copies of an old-fashioned newspaper twice a month instead of just a website is that we want to bring passionate tellings of the truth to those people who are most ignored by coporate media and most fucked over by the system and not just primarily white (middle-class) dropouts from society. Open-publishing is nifty but it is not revolutionary; people rising up and taking control of their own lives back from corporations, the states and the other holders of power is. A revolutionary indymedia would be one that helps serve that end.
Maybe by taking money from left-wing advertisers like anarchist publishing houses and community-owned banks and employing one imcista at sub-subsistence wages--everyone else is volunteer--in order to reach as many people as possible with a genuinely radical "free paper for free people", nyc imc is compromising the goals of indymedia or selling out. We don't think so but we could be wrong. But making independent media in a different fashion than Portland is not inherently counter-revolutionary; our options are not limited to emulating pdx imc or the corporate media. As Josh Breitbart says at the end of Whitney's article, we need a lot of different independent medias to serve different purposes and different communities. Portland imc does a really good job of serving and involving a strata of activists on the west coast but that in itself is not revolutionary and that is not what all indymedia or independent media should be doing.

And another thing...mimicking bad blogs 31.Jul.2005 12:24

Not interested

Sometimes it's good to make wagers with oneself. My wager was whether Portland Indymedia would attempt to totally ignore Jennifer Whitney's article and criticisms. Instead, it's done more to prove her points by pasting a response to her on the front page, rather than putting the original article there and featuring a main response alongside.
I don't know who makes the decisions to feature some article while trying to ignore others, just as I don't know who Salaud is. Point #2. Whitney usually signs her work, whether it is criticism of Indymedia, reporting from Central America, or the book We Are Everywhere. So at least we know who we are arguing with.
Point #3. Salaud, if you decide to criticize another writer for their spelling, grammar and other such matters, it is generally recommended that you have someone proof your own comments first. That is indeed one reason why some of us use other media: they have editors for us folks who don't know not to use double negatives and otherwise write funny.
Point #4. Anyone arguing that neo-nazis have been driven away from the Portland newswire, as several folks have been doing in debate with Whitney on other Indymedia sites, knows very little about neo-nazis. In Portland or in the world. They continue to post articles here with little fear of censorship. Anyone want to argue whether Lyndon LaRouche and his cult are neo-nazis? Volksfront has merely chosen not to post items here, but that doesn't mean that other nazi scum don't.
"Portland has well reputed video and audio groups as well. Groups that have helped to make convergences and social justice events and coverage from them possible in Sacramento WTO, Miami FTAA, San Francisco BIODEV, Cancun FTAA, New York RNC, Scotland G8, Washington DC, and other places".
Salaud, the NYC RNC and Cancun and G8 organizers would be rolling on the floor to hear that Portland Indymedia helped make those "convergences...possible". Yeah, when I looked around and saw the 500,000 people in the streets in NYC last year, I was thinking, 'All credit to Portland.' Hope you understand why editors sometimes edit copy to prevent whoopers or bloopers like that from creeping in your writing.
And hey, then it wouldn't be Indymedia.

Still the Status Quo 31.Jul.2005 12:54

salaud

This generally in response to Matt

I think your response to the rebuttal article was too hand waving. Too dismissive. I didn't setup a strawman called "corporate media" or "journalism". Those things are real. What are we fighting against then, shadows? What are we trying to create?

My article is about not using the same methods as the, all too real, corporate media and all too real set of rules, expectations and power dynamics called journalism. For more on this go the "Clarifying Comment" <a href=" http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/07/320035.html"> Here </a>. I'm not ignoring the points she is trying to make at all. I'm just shifting the entire framework of the discussion. Which is what I think needs to be done. I'm putting those points in a different context. She is coming from what seems to me the status quo perspective. Show me something in her article that asks us to do things differently from what other corporate or "independent" media outlets do? I don't see it. She, in fact, states quite early that things about the radical change in editorial policies were something she at first embraced and that now she dislikes. The article cries, "go back, go back!". We have to use different methods, not just push media at a different audience and present our perspective. We have to use radically different methods, deal with the state of transition, wait for the groundswell to build, and stay our course. We can't retreat back into our hierarchies and safe known rules when things don't look right. When we create a place of freedom in open publishing where there was once media monarchy, the transition of people seizing their new freedoms and the new society it creates takes time. Try to see things in this framework.

Let me address your points A and B directly, because I think it's respectful to address people's points directly.

A) Most people outside of activist subculture either find indymedia useless, due to the reasons Whitney cites, or more often aren't aware of it at all.

Answer: I think that, first of all, the word "most" is way overstated. Corporate media, right wingers, NGO (non-activist), and cops find indymedia very useful, for better or worse. But, the point remains that right now indymedia serves a specific audience. A big part of what I am arguing is how we serve. Are we media pushers or media enablers?

But, moving on, there a couple of ways to look at the WHY "most" as in say the "most" people in the US aren't aware of indymedia.

Part 1 grows from the root that indymedia does not need to be everything to everybody. It is a specific tactic. It should be a media done differently, by different people, for different people. So if it only serves, by enabling more WRITERS of their own news, the community that it is creating around itself, perhaps this is ok. The assumption that the goal of indymedia is to serve the EXISTING community (embedded in capitalism and history of slaveries) and not to build a new one from new principles, is just that, an assumption. This assumption is based on past assumptions on the way media should operate. That is, It should operate by pushing media at the existing community that reflects there existing state of life. We must break that assumption and start from a new place in order to end up in a new place. Living by the old bloddy sword, we shall add our own blood to it in the end. Indymedia can be truly revolutionary by breaking the old assumptions or it can be reformist by using the same ones.

Part 2 moves from the point of view that even though we might all be pulling in the same direction to enable media makers and not pushing media at them we still have a problem getting our message out widely enough. I believe that's just a matter of time, but also a matter of energy. The world is a big place, it takes a lot of work to get the message that we exist, that a different media world is possible, out there. We have a lot of work to do. That work though, should not be to use corporate media or corporate like media to distribute that message (except by subversion) or by pushing newspapers or FM stations at people. We should be advertising just the existence of indymedia and show people an opportunity to use and become their own media. Simply put, make a poster that says, "Hey indymedia is here and this is how you can make your media" and bring that to the underserved (by indymedia) communities. This is not to say that we shouldn't advertise by showing the PRODUCTs of indymedia and their success, but this comes second. So trying to get people involved in being their own media coupled with showing them back the results of their own writings is how we proceed. From this perspective, we cannot expect overnight success, especially in the US. We must be patient, work hard, and be steadfast to our principles. Our duty, if anything is to be an example of what is possible. This is what motivates me when I see people bicycling instead of driving, using biodiesel instead of fossil fuels, making their own food instead of buying it, building cobb structures instead of concrete. They do things with different methods and different intent and get to the same place, if not farther and healthier. We need to be this with respect to media. This is the manifesto.

B) the most opressed people in this society generally don't have regular or easy access to the internet even if they are aware of things like indymedia.

Answer: This is not one of Whitney's main points based on the amount of time she allocates to it. But, it is a really good point. In my article I do address this point directly. I spend 4 paragraphs on it actually. I'm not going to re-paste it all in here. But, here is the beginning and ending of my concluding paragraph:

"The bottom line is that, in the scheme of things, getting something in print comes with a wide area of access problems......The digital era erases these access problems for the written word. Having to get access to the internet is by far less burdensome and yields more voice. This doesn't mean we have no work to do in terms of access. We just need to focus it on the right things."

I should have said: Having to get access to the internet is by far less burdensome than print, or specifically getting a printing press into the hands of poor neighboorhoods, and yields more voice. I mean that we need to focus on getting people internet access. There are SO many reasons for this outside of indymedia. The digital divide between rich and poor grows sooo quickly and may be one of the most dangerous imbalances of power we have seen yet. The information haves and have nots. The information haves will be circling for the kill soon. Pushing a newspaper at people will not help overcome this. Indymedia is so amazing because it is located at a nexus of so many overlapping problem areas in our culture. You help people by helping them to help themselves, pushing something at them that they cannot control or do themselves is short-sighted. Nothing wrong with printing a good paper that has social justice as its mission and serves the underprivileged, it's noble, been done a million times, well understood, but short-sighted compared to possibilities of indymedia.

Matt says: "Open-publishing is nifty but it is not revolutionary; people rising up and taking control of their own lives back from corporations, the states and the other holders of power is. A revolutionary indymedia would be one that helps serve that end." I disagree, open publishing isn't revolutionary. It is one of the main things that makes indymedia what it is. How will indymedia help people take back their lives by handing them a newspaper that they didn't write? It won't. Letting them publish their own news, themselves is how they take control and rise up. I don't see how to deny that.

Matt says: "But making independent media in a different fashion than Portland is not inherently counter-revolutionary; our options are not limited to emulating pdx imc or the corporate media."

Whitney is the one saying that to be exemplary means you must be like UC, NYC, North Texas IMC, not me. I didn't start that fire. I have always believed that the options are wide open. I appreciate what UC and NYC do, more importantly I appreciate the individuals that are doing the work. Your options are not limited either one or the other options, but if you, in fact, take the option of emulating the tools, if not the content, of corporate media, it didn't matter that you had the other options. I don't want to restrict what other IMCs do, I want to explorer where we really are and where we should go. It is the only way for us to learn. If I had never seen the implosion and collapse of Seattle IMC because of collective squabbles over its IMC space and other money issues, I might never personally thought about not treading there. We should all watch each other and help each other and learn from each other. I am watching you friend.

to simplify the positions 31.Jul.2005 13:02

reader

Some imc's want to be activist run magazines/newspapers borrowing practices and principles from the traditional media. Other imc's want to be enablers of people in the community to tell their own stories without filters.

From looking at the front page of uc imc and the front page of portland imc it's clear to me which I prefer. The only original reporting on the uc imc newswire seems to be a repost of this article and it's in the "elsewhere" section as if it didn't directly relate to uc imc. Meanwhile a corporate media repost from the AP appears in "local interest". Hmmm, didn't Whitney mention that in her critique (and rightly so), not being able to find any original reporting because it was buried by corporate media spam? It looks like UC might be useful for event announcements and that's about it.

I can't make a comparison to nyc because it appears to be down at the moment though last I checked they did have some people writing stories, though those were often buried in corprorate media reposts. Hopefully other imc's will follow portland's lead and remove corporate media articles from their newswires in order to promote original local reporting. Unless, of course, that isn't their goal.

not interested 31.Jul.2005 13:24

indy volunteer #742

I just wanted to clarify since you seem unfamiliar with how featuring works on the portland imc website. Portland features all original local content posted to the newswire. Unlike other imc's there is no editorial collective writing features; all features come straight from the newswire. So Whitney's article could not be featured because it was never posted to the newswire; if it had been it would have been featured along with the response.

Interested 31.Jul.2005 14:28

salaud

This is mostly a response to not interested.

Point 1: "Instead, it's done more to prove her points by pasting a response to her on the front page, rather than putting the original article there and featuring a main response alongside. " She characterized her points as being about grammar, hate posts, and access for underserved communities. These may not have been her true points or motivations, but it's what she said. How did featuring a locally written original article prove one of the above points?

Point 2: I'm sorry, but, I didn't get YOUR given name? I think we ought to have asked the Bronte sisters to just have used their given names also when they started....Anne Frank also. In addition, I think we should require miss Whitney to attach her current address, phone number, and place and date of birth to each article as well. Otherwise, how we will we know where to go and how to harass her?

Point 3: I criticized her grammar and spelling because she had the pretense to criticize others'. I also did this to illicit the type of responses, such as yours and others, that unmask how truly rediculous it is to use grammar and spelling as a measuring stick. It's picky crap and a matter taste. I might be so bold as to fan the flames when I say that "write funny" (as you probably know, because it sounded tongue in cheek) is incorrect. Funny is not an adverb. I personally love language and its customs, but I see the power relationships that formal grammar/spelling have created and try to keep in place, and I see it as integral to a new media to include this knowledge.

Point 4: You may be right. Please post links to those articles you are speaking about. But, was Whitney speaking about those articles?

not interested said: "Salaud, the NYC RNC and Cancun and G8 organizers would be rolling on the floor to hear that Portland Indymedia helped make those "convergences...possible""
PDX IMC was/is a part of the August Sound coalition that brought you audio coverage from NYC and around the world as well as having reporters on the streets bringing that information back to the IMC and getting arrested as well. They helped to coordinate housing and helped to leave technology for neighboorhoods in the bronx where they were staying. Equipment for the IMC, other funds, as well as technical expertise were provided by a PDX IMCista in Cancun. That same IMCista reported live from the streets to Portland and the world via radio. The audio stream setup from Cancun was at 64kpbs bit rate in ogg and mp3 formats. This stream was too high a bit rate for folks in mexico and the rest of the global south to listen to because they connect mainly with dialup at speeds of 56kpbs or lower. Portland IMC Web Radio, along with the help of Free Radio Ashland, re-broadcasted the stream at 24kpbs using our resources and became the primary way that folks in the region that the FTAA was supposed to serve listened to the events. We had as many or more listeners or our stream as the original stream itself. Further, we provided some translation of the spanish only parts of the broadcast and commentary. With respect to the G8 portland worked closely with our comrades in Scotland/UK to help provide VOIP services to run the call center at the IMC there and connect different parts of the media effort.

goddamn you're nitpicky 31.Jul.2005 14:29

a.co

This piece is ridiculous. I can understand that you have some concerns/thoughts/etc about Jennifer's article, but your response to it is a bit much. You seem completely unable to examine your own actions in a critical manner, and just get fired up at every single word she writes. This is especially apparent in several of your responses when Jennifer makes comments about Indymedia sites that you respond are not true here in Portland. Portand is a big exception among IMCs- I'm sure you know that. So why get defensive at her general statements when they are in fact generally true? At the same time, Portland IMC does have a lot of the same problems that other IMCs have, and it has problems that other IMCs don't have quite as much. One of the most obvious of those being an inability to take any critique whatsoever.
I wouldn't be suprised if this comment got composted. It's happened to me before.

about the feature 31.Jul.2005 14:31

salaud

Whitney's article is not "local" original content. It is, as it exists on UC IMC, is a re-post of something written by someone elsewhere. I doubt it would be feature worthy on its own. However, I think creating a better feature that features that rebuttal more because it is local and original, but puts the original up beside it would be good. Perhaps the feature will get edited?

unpaid reporters often means indpendently wealthy reporters 31.Jul.2005 14:42

thoughts

"For folks like Jennifer Whitney, the desire for making money as a journalist, forces them to condemn a true peoples media, overtly, or covertly. There is a conflict of interest in empowering people to tell their stories because that would reduce the chance to retain a paid position."

I dont know which side I agree with in the overall argument. As a radical organizing tool and even news site (with news I'm not going to read on larger mainsteam sites) I prefer Portand's site over UCIMC, but I do tend to think that the desire to have Indymedia be completely unpaid and financed by the reporters themselves does tend to mean that indymedia reporters are not as diverse as they could be. Most Indymedia reporters are obviously not as wealthy as those who work at the big corporate media but most are probably from better off backgrounds than small town corporate media due to the skills required to do Indymedia work without the support that corporate media can often provide (you dont have to buy your own camera or recording equipment, you dont need to use you home computer for work related tasks...
Not taking grants, not getting non-profit status and never paying volunteers helps keep strings from being attached to control what media can be produced but it also means that mainly those with resources can play a major role in producing content.

Re:salaud 31.Jul.2005 14:53

Re:

I read this of the US site and agreed more with Salaud than the original author. But when I look at the way Portland is covering this it is a little bothersome since if you try to read it from there (rather than the US site) there is no clear link to the article the center column item is responding to. I know its a little nitpicky but when you are critiquing something its good to provide some sort of link to the original article so people can compare what they think about the article with what you wrote about it.

Picky 31.Jul.2005 15:07

salaud

I think it is important and respectful to respond to things in detail. I hate it and others probably do to when someone writes a comment or a rebuttal that shows that it obviously hasn't read the article or thought about it carefully. That's why I respond to every point in her article. I think it is flattering and respectful, not picky.

With respect to critique of myself or the way that Portland does things I think it would be unwise, seeing that Whitney used a public forum and the corporate media to broadcast her complaints against specifically Portland IMC, to leave them without rebuttal.

The point of my article was that while Whitney raised the right types of critiques against IMCs (some of them applicable to portland, maybe hate posts (though I haven't seen them) and access) she provided all the wrong answers to alleviate those critiques. I attempted to rebute her direction, which I see as in line with the status quo and corporate media to fix these very real problems.

Portland critiques itself all the time, but comes up with different responses to them and different frameworks for seeing the shortcomings. We have to find new methods to solve the problems. If we are trying to create a truly revolutionary media that empowers people we have to stay the course through the hard times and evaluate our problems in a different light.

I will condense some of my article in response to her points. Note that each one of her critiques as to the existence of hate posts, reposts, and lack of access are correct and legitimate:

Hate Posts: Her assumption: She thinks hate posts (that she remembers from 3.5 years ago) get through because the editorial policy allows them on portland or other IMCs. Her solution: change the editorial policy.
Correct assumption: The editorial policy specifically is against hate posts on Portland and others. The sheer number of posts makes it impossible to catch them all. Our solution in that framework: work harder at monitoring posts and comments. Distribute the load of monitoring more effectively.

Corporate Reposts: Her assumption: IMCs like them. They use them as filler. Her Solution: change the editorial policy and take a look at UC and NYC for good examples of this.
Correct assumption: Some IMCs do like them and don't see the direction of indymedia as enabling local writers. Our solution: Put reposts off the main newswire. Create an indymedia framework that encourages writers over readers.

Access: Her assumption: Indymedia is not known by most people. She thinks more people need to be able to read indymedia because it is not well-known in the culture at large. Solution: Create well written articles and use things like print distribution to get those writing out.
Correct assumption: Indymedia is know my most people that it serves and correctly not by the population at large. More people should be able to write indymedia news. Correct Solution: Create a culture of writing and empowerment, well written or not. Use new technologies that are cheaper and less burdensome (than say a printing press or FM transmitter) to get that access to underserved communities.

unpaid reporters 31.Jul.2005 15:19

salaud

There's some valid critique here, for sure.

But let's separate two things. The unpaid reporters that we want should not be people who operate inside of the collective that enables those reporters. Put more simply, we want the posters to the website or independent video/audiographers to be the reporters not the people in the "indymedia" collective. The, "Not taking grants, not getting non-profit status and never paying volunteers.. means that mainly those with resources can play a major role in producing content." implies the model that places like UC and NYC use that mimics the older models. It is definietly correct to say that using those models, that those with resources have more control over the content, because they are not only the producers but the writers.

Now separating that model from that for which I am arguing. I want a model that IS NOT based on the volunteers of a collective writing articles or doing the work of media. I want a model where the collective is enabling others (without many resources to be the reporters). That would imply that people with independent resources in the collective use those resources unselfishly and exercising the least amount of control to enable others writing, not their own. This is a general statement about what direction we should be headed in and how individualls with resources, as you have rightly pointed out, function. Luckily, this model is what we have been more or less successful at cultivating at Portland. Not perfectly by any stretch of the imagination, but in that direction, which I feel is truly different, hopeful, and revolutionary.

Link to the orginal article 31.Jul.2005 15:22

salaud

The link is at the top of the article. But it should probably be in bold. Maybe somebody will change it? That's poor HTML on my part.

It says, "-- A response to Jennifer Whitney's article on indymedia, which can be found here"

The "which can be found here" is a link to the original article...just click there. Sorry about that. it should be bold.

iam 31.Jul.2005 15:22

wondering

huh? a link to the original article is the first thing at the top of this article and the featured story? did you miss it?

re: not interested 31.Jul.2005 15:25

Sam

Yeah, when I looked around and saw the 500,000 people in the streets in NYC last year, I was thinking, 'All credit to Portland.'



That is not what Salaud said and you know it. Why don't you try being honest, or what is the point of dialog?

good point thoughts 31.Jul.2005 15:32

reader

I've been mulling over pdx dragon's statement that "indymedia is about the business of putting the journalist out of business". At first I thought this might be inaccurate for the point that thoughts raised that those with resources, meaning time and money still had certain advantages for some types of stories. I was thinking that indymedia was about raising the bar. When a person tells their own story no one can tell it better. And those involved in events can give better perspective than those merely observing. This is where many journalists will be out of a job. However, in the case of investigative journalism in can be much more difficult to those who aren't full-time reporters to get a really in depth investigative story together. So again, at first I was thinking that it just means that indymedia (and other forms of media that empowers individuals to tell their stories) forces journalists to really produce something much better, something that requires a lot of time and access to resources. But then I started thinking that maybe a community can just sponsor an investigative reporter. It's a thought and a better scenario than corporate controlled media.

I agree with salaud that it appears that Whitney wants indymedia to become another alternet or similar site. And while I don't object to people starting sties like alternet I do not read those sites and I do read indymedia so obviously if indymedia sites went down that path I suspect I would simply wait for new media alternatives to arise and supplant indymedia and read those. I would prefer to see indymedia continue its path of evolution free from money and those that want something different to break away from indymedia and start something new, perhaps borrowing some principles and practices that they like about indymedia, and not trying to capitalize on indymedia.

As for links, I agree that it's worth reading the debate in other forums though obviousl that has nothing to do with "the way Portland is covering this". Those that want to see links should do it, like I am. While it would have been nice if links had been included, I'm glad they weren't because I can provide them with my take.

Here's the alternet post and I highly recommend reading the comment by Vincent Fischer on the subject of grammar and such. It's the kind of statement that gives me good feelings about indymedia volunteers and inspiration in the work that they do.
 http://alternet.org/mediaculture/23741/

The uc imc feature (it does not appear on their newswire) is here though the comments here are far more interesting, thought provoking, and useful in my opinion:
 http://www.ucimc.org/feature/display/87217/index.php

And this is a repost of this article on uc-imc which has a good first comment and then more silly nonsense about grammar that distracts from any useful discussion in my opinion:
 http://www.ucimc.org/newswire/display/89520/index.php

writing can be done by anyone but radio, video and photos requires money 31.Jul.2005 18:52

thoughts

"That would imply that people with independent resources in the collective use those resources unselfishly and exercising the least amount of control to enable others writing, not their own."

Writing requires access to a computer but reading requires a computer and there are many cheap places to get access to computers to browse online. One response to critques of nonprofits is of course that the free access in libraries and the like are via nonradial groups that usually run off a rather conservative model.

Photos, Audio and especially video requires enough money that even many people with full-time jobs have problems getting the equipment. There are also training issues. While I think the content is not very radical I think the services provided by a IWPR or Youth Radio (to train young jounalists and provide them qith equipment while they are training) ends up with a much more diverse set of people working on media than a normal indymedia where the video and audio people tend to be students or professional video and audio people. Since peopel in school or with jobs who have trainig and access to video, photo and audio equipment to cover things when not working usually dont have that much free time, you end up with most Indymedias not offering any real training to people who are not from at least somewhat priveledged backgrounds. Unless the site is usually left unattended, the unpaid all volunteer model requires a type of person running the site who either is independently wealthy or working at a job with flexible schdedules (the same crtique is probably true of anyone who attends weekday protests not near their workplaces). One solution that is often suggested in terms of getting a more diverse set of volunteers is more trainings but plaving more work on a core set of unpaid volunteers requireing more and more time limits that set of people to a smaller ans smaller set of people who dont have to be constantly working to pay rent.

I dont know the way around these types of problems and I tend to like sites that are not nonprofts better than ones that are and look corporately. In terms of critiques of indymedias going larger scale and being able to get grants and pay volunteers I think the argumenst are similar to comparing an infoshop bookstore with a public library. Public libraries dont provide particularly radical fare but they give more people access to radical information then do unpaid infoshops that attempt the same thing. I doubt anyone would argue that radical anarchist libraries get rid of the need for public libraries but in the case of indymedias there isnt an equivalent yet. If there were more media centers giving free training during nonworking hours to people and running open publishing local news websites with a paid staff to monitor for spam and push things to the center column then not wanting such groups in the indymedia movement would make more sense than not wanting them today. We need UCIMCs that grow into community centers for everyone with no real radical analysis but we also need the more radical sites; if we had both, the larger funded ones could provide the training and some of the support to enable the more radical ones to exist without the current class issues involved with learning and getting access to equipmenet.

The free time issue is harder; if you leave for work at 6am and get home at 8pm every day and have to deal with washing clothes, making dinner, paying bills... when exactly do you have time to do great independent work. Thats the problem with capitalism; only those relatively unoppressed by capitalism, and some young people willing and able to live off almost nothing are going to be able to have time to fight capitalism after work.

. 31.Jul.2005 19:23

.

A system of public funded open publishing of news would be good. However, you could not even create a library system in the current political climate in this country. Libraries are struggling to survive. Indymedia is growing, because that is what can grow.

. 31.Jul.2005 19:30

.

The free time issue is harder; if you leave for work at 6am and get home at 8pm every day and have to deal with washing clothes, making dinner, paying bills... when exactly do you have time to do great independent work. Thats the problem with capitalism; only those relatively unoppressed by capitalism, and some young people willing and able to live off almost nothing are going to be able to have time to fight capitalism after work.


How do the people of Bolivia manage to find time to overthrow the president? When there is a will and passion and determination, there is a way.

In the USA, there are choices to make. One can live simpler, cheaper, and work less. It is a clear option. And that is an option available to many people, not just some young people. When you turn 30, or 40, or 50, you don't just suddenly have your life filled. You make choices along the way. People can make other choices and admittedly, some people are stuck with choices already made, but those choices are not an inevitability for all.

some differences 31.Jul.2005 20:17

thoughts

"How do the people of Bolivia manage to find time to overthrow the president? When there is a will and passion and determination, there is a way. "

In Bolivia much of the revolt was by peasants who are not wage slaves (so a day lost is only a day lost not a job lost). Plus, if enough people with hourly jobs refuse to work to protest they can't fire everyone. The problem with a one time protest or even revolt vs sustained work on an indymedia is that its not something you can really rally coworkers around and if your paid hourly the drop in pay by doing constant volunteer work would be enough to get you evicted in many US cities.

Most importantly, many leaders of the revolt were probably "paid activists" (union leaders and office staff at most large radical organizing groups do get paid). Being "paid activists" doesnt make it any less radical, its just most people who have to do the movements boring shit work arent going to do it very long for free even if they can afford to.

one more thing 31.Jul.2005 20:51

thoughts

I know the usual response to complaining about boring activist work (like making copies, responding to emails and the like) is to pretend that people who really believe in the movement wouldnt mind doing such work free... but strangely its those actists who dont do such work who usually say this.

no money is required to produce media or to produce change 31.Jul.2005 21:39

pdx indy contributer

If you want to do video, audio, photos, or anything else it can be done without spending 1 single cent. Perpetuating such things only serves to disempower people who feel like they cannot afford to do media work. It is accessible to anyone. If you want to produce videos show up to an indymedia meeting. You can get a camera, editing equipment, training, distribution and anything else you could want. Similar resources exist for those wanting to do a radio show, or be on television. People do not need money to make media and the perpetuation this myth is what indymedia is effectively countering.

"We need UCIMCs that grow into community centers for everyone with no real radical analysis but we also need the more radical sites; if we had both, the larger funded ones could provide the training and some of the support to enable the more radical ones to exist without the current class issues involved with learning and getting access to equipmenet."

This is not how things work. The sites that raise a lot of money spend it on themselves, buying buildings and such. The more radical sites (that is those that look to the root of the issues) realize that funding is not needed to effectively produce media. People just need to be smart and care about what they are doing. It is true that where there is a will there is a way. Anyone who wants to make media can do so and anyone that doesn't believe that should at least test the situation themselves.

I agree with "." that there are choices to be made. I would never choose to work 6am to 8pm. I know that there are people who don't feel like they have a choice, and that is something that needs to be addressed. I also know that there are people who choose to work long hours because they believe in their work and that's fine too; it is their choice.

This culture has been lied to and convinced into believing that an individual does not have the agency to create change. But everyone does have the power to effect change. Media activism is only one way among many to create change but for those that are drawn to it, nothing more than that calling is required. But actions speak louder than words so don't take my word for it, find out for yourself. Empower yourself, if not with media work than with whatever issue it is that inspires you.

scratching my head 01.Aug.2005 13:41

gehrig

"reader," I'm scratching my head a little at how you get this:

"The only original reporting on the uc imc newswire seems to be a repost of this article and it's in the "elsewhere" section as if it didn't directly relate to uc imc."

from this:

 http://www.ucimc.org

@%<

Free print media is more accessible 01.Aug.2005 14:06

a.co

Free print media is a hell of a lot more accessible than online media.
Print media has the ability to get everywhere a target opulation is.
Online media has to be searched for, and even though computers and the internet are getting cheaper and more accessible, the reality is that a lot of people still don't have computers and/or internet access. Most people won't wait in the line at the library every day so they can use their allotted hour perusing indymedia.
This is why online IMCs are only read and used by a small, white-dominated lefty subculture.
Print media is more accessible, and people are used to it. And if something in print media is poorly edited, with lots of spelling errors, people will get turned off and won't read it. That's just the way things are.
People are used to the forms of media that are out there already, which happen to be corporate. It's pretty idealistic and ignorant to expect people to just drop everything and join the "indymedia revolution".

I'm not sure what you don't get gehrig 01.Aug.2005 14:44

reader

The UC-IMC newswire is filled with event announcements and reposts from other sources including corporate media. What newswire article would you say constitutes original reporting? I couldn't find any before, thought maybe this one would count now:  http://www.ucimc.org/newswire/display/89879/index.php.

a.co I disagree. Print media is different in accessibility but not necessarily more accessible. A website can be read by millions of people all around the world. And here in portland internet accessibility is not difficult. I'd suspect that more people go to the library to surf the web than read any local paper put out here though I couldn't back that statement with statistics. I just know that library computers are almost always filled at most libraries and I see more people on computers in coffee shops these days than I see people reading papers.

"And if something in print media is poorly edited, with lots of spelling errors, people will get turned off and won't read it."

Yes, some people might get turned off; those that take grammar and spelling, that is to say form over content, too seriously. From Vincent Fischer's comment "If You Can Speak, You Can Write!" The only problem that could arise is if there is a communication barrier created but that is very difficult in the english language as I'm sure we've all read:

"Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe."

Which may not be entirely accurate but does provide evidence that misspellings can be understood in many cases. And it is important not to deny access to those who wish to write. That doesn't mean people can't offer suggestions to make people better writers but I'd prefer seeing people help with the content, like how to make points more clear and more succinct, rather than focusing on the trivialities of grammar and spelling rules.

"This is why online IMCs are only read and used by a small, white-dominated lefty subculture."

I think that is a grossly ignorant statement and one that I suspect you cannot defend with any evidence (and one that you find to be insulting to most indymedia readers around the globe). You seem purely interested in tearing something down which makes me wonder what you do to make this world a better place. Are you creating something better? Are you empowering people to be more effective and to tell their stories? Have not many people joined the indymedia revolution despite your ad hominem attack that it is ignorant and idealistic? If you truly believe that people cannot do something as simple as remove themselves from their reliance on corporate media then I suggest you just start asking for softer chains now because you will never break them.

did you actually go to the site? 01.Aug.2005 15:08

gehrig

reader: "What newswire article would you say constitutes original reporting? I couldn't find any before, thought maybe this one would count now"

Did you actually visit the site, or did you just look at the RSS feed on the assumption that every local story gets syndicated? If you haven't actually gone to the site, do it, and you'll see that, of the first five articles in the features column, three are local reporting on local issues, a fourth is a political cartoon by a local cartoonist, and the fifth is Whitney's article. All of them pretty fresh, too.

@%<

yes I did go the site, you just didn't read what I wrote 01.Aug.2005 15:27

reader

The link I posted should have clued you in but perhaps you should go back and actually read what I wrote. Pay particular attention to the word before "article" in my last post.

time and access 01.Aug.2005 15:47

salaud

With respect to print media it is pretty important to think about the framework you are working in. Print media can be very accessible to READERS....but not to WRITERS. Lots of people can read a newspaper and afford to buy one, but not many can afford to buy a printing press and print a newspaper. Indymedia is most powerful as a force to enable writers. This point is key. It's a framework shift.

With respect to time and money: I think the point about changing your lifestyle to do media work full-time is right on. It's not only theory, I know that several of the portland indymedia volunteers (enablers...not writers mainly) have changed their lifestyles so they can do this media (and other types) enabling. However, in my case, I just work my 30 hours a week and then work 20-30 more after work. I do have to change my lifestyle such that I sacrifice the home cooked meals, the clothing washing, etc.

I think it can take money or time to be a media enabler. The poster who said that you could do audio and video work without having your own camera or equipment is correct. But, in that case you are mainly being enabled and not enabling.

I think if places like UC would become training centers that would be great. BUT... and that's a big BUT... they would have to make sure that all that training turned into open publishing of those trained. Seeing your voice well broadcasted is one of the things that makes you feel real as a writer.

oh, I get it now 01.Aug.2005 16:09

gehrig

I see what the problem is -- your software and ours treat feature articles a different way, and that gives you a different expectation of what should be on the newswire. When we promote an article from the newswire to be a feature, we hide it on the newswire, because otherwise there will be two copies of the article making two threads.

On the other hand, your software doesn't maintain two different copies, and one of the results is your implicit expectation apparently that the newswire _will_ have all the local reporting too and that UC-IMC's newswire can therefore be castigated for not having much.

Different collectives, different ways of doing things.

The other factor, of course, is that UC is only about one-twelfth the size of the Portland metro area, if Wikipedia is right.

@%<

say an 01.Aug.2005 16:16

PDX Dragon

Not interested said - My wager was whether Portland Indymedia would attempt to totally ignore Jennifer Whitney's article and criticisms.


Her criticisms of portland consisted mainly of 4 year old info that is no longer accurate and complaints about the new cities list organization. The first is rather pointless as it is well in the past, and the second, well, many people like the new cities list, and there may be many who do not. Hers is just one opinion. Surely you cannot mean to say that Portland should immediately run out and change the cities list back the way it was to suit one reviewer?

If someone wants to offer clear suggestions for improving the site, I am certainly interested to hear them. But it is pointless if those suggestions do not reflect the vision and values that people aspire to.

Jennifer Whitney was writing an article particularly to be critical. That was the theme of that issue, so I did not expect her to give a well rounded view. I do agree with Salaud, in that criticism of pdximc based on her values ends up not offering much new. She wants indymedia to be an orange, and complains that pdximc is an apple. She should at least mention that it is the apple people are aiming for. She sees failure, I see success. She is using different measurements, and those measurements are born of an old paradigm that I want to move away from.

well, it's not *my* software 01.Aug.2005 17:08

reader

But I had a feeling you must be someone from uc-imc. I write an occasional story here on portland but read it regularly and I'm not familiar with the software side of things. I do appreciate your clarification because I am accustomed to the model that portland and other imc's use where stories appear in both places and you are correct that scale makes a difference. With a smaller pool of people one can only expect just so many stories.

I also want to apologize for getting confused about the link in the intro. I had seen it but then when people started complaining about the lack of a link and I scanned for it I didn't see it so I thought I had been mistaken about seeing it in the first place. I just wanted to wrap that up but I didn't want to take the discussion off on more tangents than I've already contributed to.

Editor of LiP responds to "Don't Give Me No LiP..." 01.Aug.2005 17:32

Brian Awehali

I'm the editor of LiP, and I asked Jen Whitney to write this piece for LIP's "Constructively Negative" Sacred Cows issue. I can tell you that she had serious concerns (which I shared) about how to do this piece in a way that would be constructive and that wouldn't undermine the ultimate goals of Indymedia.

I'd like to respond to salaud's response article as well as a few of the posts appended to it on the UCIMC site:


ON THE APPEARANCE OF THIS PIECE ON ALTERNET:

I was unhappy to see this piece appear on Alternet, and I'm actually happy to see people (here and elsewhere) being critical of that. (Also: Alternet gave the piece an unbalanced, excessively negative title that was not fair to the actual focus of the piece).

An editor at Alternet contacted me, asking to reprint the piece, about two weeks ago. I declined to give them my permission, and said I was concerned about how a piece with this focus would be perceived were it to appear on Alternet. I cc'd Jennifer Whitney on this email and she, as was her right as the author, decided to allow Alternet to reprint the piece.

As I think any savvy member of the alt-media community should know, Alternet is a deeply flawed enterprise, warped by the ego, liberalism and unfortunate preponderance of its executive director, Don Hazen. Let me be clear: Alternet is liberalism, in sometimes unintentionally humorous "radical" wrapping paper. They're consistent apologists for the Democratic Party, which LiP has no use for whatsoever.

From a radical political standpoint, Alternet has no real credibility. But we have chosen, as a strategic matter, to occasionally syndicate and reprint material with them, because it's our belief that, in spite of their aforementioned flaws, they are still providing a visible and influential platform to some of the ideas and goals that LiP seeks to advance. If they help promote the work of our writers, and if they serve to bring what I consider to be LIP's vastly more coherent radical critique to a wider audience, then we're willing to use that tool.

Moving on to salaud's actual article... I first want to say that it's great so many impassioned people have chosen to participate in what I consider an important strategic debate. This is truly a testament to the value of Indymedia and independent community journalism in general.


ON "REFORM OF CORPORATE MEDIA"

- The frame of salaud's response piece is, in its title and argument, manipulative and just plain wrong. Nowhere in the piece does Jen argue that ANYONE should take ANYTHING in the "direction" of corporate media. This is a sloppy charge that sets up a false (and to my mind, stupid) binary that gets no one anywhere. This is simply a dumb and inexact point. And salaud made it part of the title of hir response.

"COMMERCIAL," and "INDEPENDENT vs NON-INDEPENDENT"

--or--THE OH-SO-DARK SIDE OF MIXING MEDIA AND MONEY

- Media isn't independent or "non-independent" (or, almost as vaguely, "commercial") because people have to pay for it. That actually has no bearing on political or intellectual "integrity" whatsoever. Having to charge for something doesn't mean its de facto "profit driven." It means it costs money to produce media. What makes it independent are the values that guide and inform it, as well as its internal structure. Making any assumptions about LiP, for example, without bothering to consider anything beyond whether we sell it or not, is just a laughable mental shortcut. (Note: Whitney was not paid anything for this piece, and our core editorial group works on an all-volunteer basis, often contributing our own scarce funds).

- Bowing to a definition of journalistic integrity or political credibility that REQUIRES taking no money for your work leaves out those who can't afford to spend countless hours of their lives writing for free rather than working to do pesky things like feed, clothe and house themselves and their possible families. It's dumb. It smacks of people too afraid, ignorant, convenient, or insecure in their own political analysis or conviction to engage the complex issues of our times with a semblance of intellectual honesty.

It's unfortunate that this debate about money and media essentially comes down to "be realistic and relevant" vs. "be right." I mean, OF COURSE money is a usually corrosive influence on media! And OF COURSE those of us who want a world not mediated in every way by capitalism and its attendant miserabilism would like a world where communication -- including media -- is not contingent on capital.

But we don't live in that world, and I'd argue that if we actually want to be more than a self-satisfied subculture -- that is, if we actually want to focus on eventually "winning," not just "belonging," or being ineffectually "right," there's simply no way around the fact that we'll have to engage capitalism. The real key is knowing our values and keeping them foremost in our minds as we live in what is, for now, largely the enemy's world.

RESPECTING AN AUDIENCE/RESPONSIBLE JOURNALISM:

- salaud wrote: "To have respect for our audience means to appreciate their intelligence and ability to sort out fact from fiction, truth from lies, passion from rhetoric. They do no need to be spoonfed (sic), told how to spell, or otherwise led like a horse to water as to what is the truth"

Expecting your audience to NOT rely on you to responsibly attempt to sort out fact from fiction is a complete abdication of your responsibilities as a journalist.

If I were someone intent on rendering Indymedia irrelevant and ineffective, I'd try really hard to inculcate in community participants the belief that fiction, speculation, facts and actual reportage are effectively the same thing, and that readers will just magically sort those out for themselves. This kind of tortured logic should be laughed at, not applauded.

ARGUING AGAINST "PROPER" SPELLING:

- As for spelling... well, regardless of where you fall in the language usage camp, it's hard to get around one of the best points Whitney makes in her piece, about communication and its definition. Our audience has to be kept in mind at all times. And attention *should* be paid to their likelihood of being able to understand what a journalist writes. Spellchecking and things of such nefarious ilk are merely tools for communication. Arguing that journalists (of any type, at any level of experience or ability) should disregard correct spelling, or that those who advocate the use of a spellchecker are somehow "elite" is just puritanical activist navelgazing drivel. No one's saying people have to KNOW how to spell "correctly" -- but what about hitting, oh, two buttons on even freeware word processing software, and spending, maybe, 5 minutes to correct misspellings? I think any argument against this can safely be set down, with a gentle pat on the head, in the "laziness" category.

MORE ON "REFORM OF CORPORATE MEDIA"

- salaud wrote, of Jen's (humorous) statement about the attractiveness of "counterrevolutionary" "restrictive site managers, editors, or word-count limits": "Those things are still counter-revolutionary. Of course, the author of the article finds them appealing. The article itself is counter revolutionary. The article is not really pro imperialist or anything like that, but simply comes from a reformist or status quo point of view. The point of view of the article and arguments leading from it can be best be summed up by saying, "indymedia should be a reform of the way corporate media does things, writing in the same style with the similar editorial criteria." This is not to say that some editorial policing of an indymedia site are not necessary for pragmatic reasons."

No, Jen was unequivocally NOT arguing that "Indymedia should be a reform of the way corporate media does things, writing in the same style with the (sic) similar editorial criteria." Not only was she not saying that, but salaud's phrasing here is so mushy it means almost nothing... "the way corporate media does things" is hopelessly broad; ditto "same style" and "similar editorial criteria."

Just because editing, spellchecking, and a set style are tools used by corporate media doesn't de facto mean those things should be avoided by indie media. And although a few of the following examples are not precisely analagous, they *are* examples of the same reductivist, simple thinking:

- You might as well say that since Intel and Mac are big corporations that make computers, and since the Internet is owned, pretty much entirely, by other shitty corporations, Indymedia shouldn't even exist, since community members are using the same tools. which rolled of a really profitable conveyor belt and will persist, in landfills, for tens of thousands of years, leaching heavy metals and other toxins into the earth.

- Or that they shouldn't take a plane or any transportation using internal combustion to a protest.

- Or that the English language is an imperial imposition and therefore any US indie media project with integrity should communicate only in Esperanto, or the language of their indigenous ancestors.

And, um, salaud, are you noting the internal contradiction of your charges against Jen's piece, as you articulate them in this paragraph, and your statement that ***some editorial __policing__ of indymedia sites is necessary for pragmatic reasons?***


COPYRIGHT/COPYLEFT/CREATIVE COMMONS

- For the record, the copyright statement at the end of the UCIMC's posting of the piece was appended, I presume, by the UCIMC. Neither Jen W. or LiP had anything to do with that.

However, LiP *does* place copyright notices on the articles that appear on our site and in the magazine. But it's important to note that this is a matter of strategy, not capitulation to capitalist conceptions of intellectual property. We do it so people who want to reprint material from LiP are compelled to email us and ask! We want to know about it! I don't think we've ever turned down a fellow non-profit or grassroots media project when they've asked to use something from LiP. But automated corporate "content aggregators," as well as some who would seek to undermine or co-opt our efforts, are somewhat slowed by copyright notices. (For example, had Jen and I both declined to give Alternet permission to reproduce this article on their site, a simple copyright notice would surely have deterred them from just taking it anyway, against our wishes.)

LAST, and LEAST: JOSHUA BRIETBART, "ET TU BRUTUS" and THE INHERENT HUMOR OF SOME THINGS:

- "Et tu [blank]" is ALWAYS a maudlin, overwrought gagfest. What, did salaud suffer some fatal metaphorical stabbing at the hands of the murderous Joshua Brietbart? Is salaud actually taking on the figurative mantle of Julius Caesar (by way of Shakespeare)--which is deeply and humorously ironic no matter HOW you look at it--while calling Brietbart a traitor for saying, literally, that independent media needs to grow and diversify?

Um... OK.... At least I got quite a few really humorous visions in my head while parsing that image, mostly involving Joshua Brietbart (aka Brutus) and three other uncomfortable looking activists in Roman togas and sandals, stabbing salaud (aka Caesar, the emperor) who, in this absurd vision, looks to me more like Marvin the Martian. As he expires, a tyrant meeting his end at the treacherous hands of his closest advisors , Marvin staggers around in his reddening toga and Chuck Taylors, warbling things like "Being assassinated makes me very angry! Very angry, indeed!" before collapsing and uttering his famous (alleged) last line, "Et tu, Brutus?" ("you too, Brutus?").

reply 01.Aug.2005 21:34

PDX Dragon

Hi reader,

Thanks for a considered reply.

It is true that as things are, the investigative reporter with some resources can get a really in-depth story.

However, what if many people felt empowered to speak up?

Portland has received criticism for featuring half baked stories (of course pdximc does not have an editorial group writing content) but that is exactly the point of indymedia. You post it in order for it to become fully baked!

I have seen it happen on this site, where someone posts a story. It is interesting, but missing many pieces. Then someone else posts some more info, someone else corrects a few factual errors, someone who knows laws gives a legal perspective and so on. After few days, a strong, well rounded picture emerges. It is a wonderful process. That is indymedia at its best.

What if this happened all the time?

The reason there needs to be the investigative reporter is to dig up the information from all the people who do not feel empowered to speak in the first place.

I am not saying there should not be any journalists, but the vision pdximc is bringing forth does tend to put them out of a job :-)

Now, I would also make a distinction between journalists and writers. We should certainly have poets and writers, and artists and musicians. News is a community informing itself about what is going on in that community, and in the broader world community. It should not rely on a journalistic priesthood as a go between between itself. News is communication and it should be self actualized. If in the course of that, some individuals stand out as particularly adept, then that is fine. But the formation of the priesthood which tells people they cannot do it well enough themselves, should be avoided.

So I would say again - Beware the person who tells you that you need them as a go between and who profits from it! Jennifer Whitney is saying that and this is because she has, or wants to enter that priesthood. It is a basic conflict of interest. You cannot set yourself above and empower people at the same time.

re: Brian 01.Aug.2005 22:29

PDX Dragon

Hi Brian,

Rather than respond to your piece point by point, I would like to say some general things about vision and approach.

First, I do find Ms. Whitney's article, as related to Portland insulting. It looks clear to me that she has a big chip on the shoulder related to some experience she had 4 years ago. She is sarcastic and demeaning. PDX Imc volunteers have generally found the article offensive and not at all a friendly criticism.

This has set the tone for discussion which is unfortunate, because I feel these are some very important issues.

Whatever criticisms you have of Salaud's article, he is making some points about a different idea of journalism and a different approach to media.

A magazine like LiP is going to have to make some money. As is a publication like the Indypendent. I think the money vs no-money dichotomy misses the important points and ideas that are being talked about.

In the comment I posted a while ago, I mentioned how an article gets posted, and comments get added and the sum of that whole thing, becomes a well rounded and valuable story. The general idea of journalism, is that a story is complete when published. This approach, the story is a starting point. Also, this fosters less ownership.

It is a very consistent pattern that the people who want to make money, want to own a story, control it and shape it. It is not free. A story could be like free software, open source and available for all to work on. This is the approach promoted in Portland.

This approach encourages participation, and breaks the provider/consumer pattern which is so socially destructive. As I said in my other comment, I find there to be a conflict of interest between empowering people to make media, and trying to make money off of it.

Out on the street at a protest, I can recognize right away those who want to be a paid journalist. Ask them to share their notes, audio, video or photos. They hesitate, usually say some sort of no.

I have written dozens of stories that I posted on pdx imc. I do not consider myself a journalist. Not at all. I am personally very troubled with the idea of making money writing news stories about activist work. Here are these people, usually putting their asses on the line for free to make the story in the first place. I cannot in good conscience take money when they are the ones making it possible.

Being a journalist, turns the person into a voyeur and not a participant. The very idea of the journalist promotes the spectacle. They are supposed to be objective and in this way act as a 'camera' whereby passive consumers can observe what goes on.

There is far too much of this sort of consumptive media. It is a great addiction of our times. Indymedia is an antidote to this provider/consumer model. It is about people becoming active, developing their voice. I often hear talk about how 'we' need to reach people. If every person in the country read pdximc, or LiP or whatever, but did nothing different during the day, that would be no success at all.

So these are some thoughts and ideas.

maligning distortion is not "criticism" 02.Aug.2005 01:48

spArkle

How sad for the perfectly legitimate exercise called "criticism" that someone like Whitney should abuse it by claiming that this shallow, uninformed, poorly considered piece of writing is an example of it. "Criticism" in its truer sense is not about slamming, it's about examining. Literary criticism, art criticism, and even pop music criticism inhabit an analytical corner of culture, and can help shed light not only on their particular subject but on the general human condition. The only thing we learn about the human condition from Whitney's essay is that she doesn't check her facts (at least when it comes to PDX indymedia editorial practice) and that her narrow vision of success and failure is limited by the constricting bounds of capitalism.

Re. the Portland items, the first claim she makes, about racist posts, is entirely specious. i know of no other IMC in the network (at least w/in the U.S.) that is more carefully monitored for and kept clean of racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. The sheer number of posts and comments sent to the compost bin (or hidden entirely) is incredible. A quick visit to other sites around the U.S. network quickly illustrates this.

PDX editors hide more than that stuff, though. The idea that indymedia should not be abused by right wing trolls is where Portland takes it even further. People posting simply to make a mess quickly find themselves silenced, and it makes the site much more readable and keeps discussions more on-track. NYC indymedia, which Whitney seems to prefer, shows what happens when you don't houseclean. i personally can't stand reading that site anymore because of all the right-wing trolling that is allowed to occur. Threads degenerate into hate-filled spite fighting and are a waste of time, besides being sickening. Destructive disruption sure ain't good "journalism" in my book, and some of it might be from people being paid to keep people off track.

NYC doesn't, though, have any compunction about trashing stories about Sept. 11. For their editorial team, the government that lied about Hiroshima, lied about the Gulf of Tonkin, lied about the Contras, lied about WMD in Iraq, and has denied or covered up thousands of tax-funded abuses of human rights costing millions of lives, can be believed at face value when it comes to this particular incident. Huh?

Denial isn't just a river in Egypt, as they say; apparently it also flows under the Brooklyn Bridge.

Whitney's trashing of the PDX cities list, in the left-hand column (which uses a set of non-standard geographical regions), is honestly not worth addressing. Who cares if the cities list isn't perfect? What the fuck does it matter? Is that really all she could come up with? It's like writing a review of a new album and spending a big chunk of it concentrating on the font size of one section of the liner notes. Is it really worth that much attention?

Re. "correct" spelling and grammar: Oh heavens! That bullshit again. Not only is that line of reasoning classist as fuck -- a.) the ruling class have long used "education" to keep themselves above the masses by portraying those who can't be "correct" as stupid and their ideas not worth considering, and b.) it implies that people are too stupid to figure out things for themselves if they're not letter-perfect -- but it shows a great naivete about language itself and how it evolves and grows, which is through *usage*, not the official lexicon. (Refer to wikipedia's excellent analysis of "they" as a singular non-gender-specific pronoun for a good example of how a common "mistake" is serving a legitimate purpose and is moving toward official acceptability:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they)

What was also missed in this discussion was how PDX indymedia center-column features are not "corrected" for spelling or grammar Specifically, PDX indymedia has no editorial team (like NYC and most other U.S. IMCs) that writes the center column features. All features are taken verbatim from the newswire. No one's words are changed. This is done for several philosophical and practical reasons. A) It would be dishonest. As the Beats said, "all editing is lying". B.) It's so frustrating as a writer to see one's ideas changed by uncompassionate editors (the most common kind there is). C.) It's risky -- how can you edit someone else's words without changing the meaning? D) How can you tell what was intentionally "incorrect"; that is, how much was style or some other choice?

indymedia is about empowerment. Changing a writer's words is disempowering, even if they spelled them "wrong". At PDX indymedia, people prefer the purity of the passionate expression over the (questionable) exactitude of carefully proofed essay.

Plus which, with the educational system being what it is these days, and with mainstream culture so full of twisted, purposefully misleading linguistic fluff, who can tell what's "correct" anymore anyway? The "educated" class might claim they can, but self-delusion runs deep among those people.

So, in my estimation, Whitney failed at the task of writing a legitimate "criticism" of indymedia, and of PDX specifically. She did succeed, however, in revealing the shortcomings of her own analysis, values, and imagination.

Make IMC a threat again 02.Aug.2005 02:27

pointer


The cities list... 02.Aug.2005 04:04

DJ Shadow

There's lots of interesting discussion going on here. I say thanks to Jennifer for provoking this discussion. I find it interesting that many of the people who accuse her of having a vendetta against Portland IMC sound they have the chips on their shoulders.

On the cities list, sparkle says: "Whitney's trashing of the PDX cities list, in the left-hand column (which uses a set of non-standard geographical regions), is honestly not worth addressing. Who cares if the cities list isn't perfect? What the fuck does it matter? Is that really all she could come up with? It's like writing a review of a new album and spending a big chunk of it concentrating on the font size of one section of the liner notes. Is it really worth that much attention?"

I think it does matter. I live in the US, and I have trouble finding other IMCs on this list. I can't imagine how difficult it is for people from other countries to find the New Jersey IMC, for example. If you want the site to be accessible, requiring users to understand what the "Great North Woods" is the wrong way to go. This seems like a fairly silly way to challenge the borders that imperialism has placed between us.

reply 02.Aug.2005 09:54

PDX Dragon

DJ Shadow

If you or Whitney have a criticism of the cities list, that is fine. There have been other people who have criticized the new cities list, and then there have been plenty of people who like it. But she was rather sarcastic about it saying: "Later on, the (anonymous) authors proudly state that they spent 15 hours working on the list. Fifteen hours, apparently without consulting a map."

She is taking 3 opportunities just in this sentence to demean people. This is not honest criticism.

Constructive criticism might be, for example, I find the new cities list confusing. Maybe Portland can add a link with the old cities list for reference. That would be a constructive suggestion, spoken with respect, and a shared desire to improve things.

In every case, Whitney has used the most belittling language she could and still stay within the bounds of her journalistic propriety. Just like the PR put out by big corporations, she is clever to not technically lie, but she uses words to paint a false picture. It is exactly these "rules" of journalism, which allow a facade of objectivity meanwhile passing out what are essentially lies. Call them a liar to their face, and they will take you to court and attorneys will mumbo jumbo and decide that technically it is not a lie.

"Speaking the Truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act."
-- George Orwell

thoughts 02.Aug.2005 10:19

thoughts

"in my case, I just work my 30 hours a week and then work 20-30 more after work. I do have to change my lifestyle such that I sacrifice the home cooked meals, the clothing washing, etc. "

The main discussion on this thread seesm to be censorship, editing and how representative and useful different editing techniques make the site.
One piece that is always briefly thought of and then quickly forgotten is how limited the indymedia community is in the US (in terms of both readers and writers). Indyemdias tend to draw from one or two specific subcultures and rarely go beyond that. Part of the problem could be access to computers but I really dont think that is the case (and looking at who reads Indyemdia print publications at cafes tends to make me think that the readers arent people without access to computers but just a less techy subgroup of the same subculture)

Quality may have a little to do with limited readership but the larger issue is diversity of coverage. Issues that effect young white educated youth tend to get more of a focus in what is covered than other issues and while anyone can post the focus is going to be seen as set by readers who wont necessarilly post about issues effecting a wider community.

Im sortof exagerating since labor issues, issues around cuts to social services and the like are issues that go way beyond any subculture, but the idea that people can change their work lives around to suit a sites need does have a "let them eat cake" like sound to it for those with little choice of jobs or work hours (or with children and other such comittment that cant be put aside for site work). People who have to work 3 jobs to pay rent and then spend the remaining hours of their week taking care of necessities usualy dont want to be in such a situation and cant just change their lifestyle to do radical work.

I really could see a paid indymedia employing reporters from a more diverse set of communities doing better (and ultimately more radical coverage) than one that has to rely on people who can afford a lot of free time. On the other hand, money corrupts and I would bet that a movement in the direction of UCIMC could result in just another public radio like entity with no radical views. But I do think that those who look down on paid reporters (and grants for equipment) should look at the community of people who can work half-time while still paying rent while still having money to buy digital cameras, look at the community of people who can cover a demonstration during the middle of a workday and look at the people who can afford to read lists for hours and post articles for several hours a day and think about how that is ultimately limiting and not the fault of people who could just change their lifestyles to do radical work.

no money is required to produce media? 02.Aug.2005 10:30

ridge runner

pdx indy contributer said

"If you want to do video, audio, photos, or anything else it can be done without spending 1 single cent. Perpetuating such things only serves to disempower people who feel like they cannot afford to do media work. It is accessible to anyone. If you want to produce videos show up to an indymedia meeting. You can get a camera, editing equipment, training, distribution and anything else you could want. Similar resources exist for those wanting to do a radio show, or be on television. People do not need money to make media and the perpetuation this myth is what indymedia is effectively countering."

not sure what your reality is but as a member of a rural collective we do find video and audio equipment expensive. in fact, we have to borrow equipment from nonmembers just to get photos up. we are trying to get a video camera but the phone bill and light bill usually get in the way. we are currently fighting with city hall to force them to uphold the cable contract to get public access television so it's a real problem getting folks on tv. what you fail to realize is that there are imcs that do not have the resources that larger imcs like portland do. we take donations from the community for equipment and screen films as a means to raise funds. the screenings also allow the community access to media the community can not see or afford at the local theatres. we are even working on getting 501c3 status because, as a collective we have concluded that to fully accomplish our mission, it is worthwhile to accept certain available grants that do not compromise our aims or philosophy. furthermore, we deal with an elderly community. demographically, our community is comprised of a population that is at least 40% over 65. that is a group that reads print media not electronic. should we neglect them? actually, we have because we have been unable to afford printing costs for some time now. finally, i wish you would do something about the placement of big muddy on your cities list. we are a little south of st louis and if they and arkansas are mississippi delta than so are we. than again if tennessee is part of appalachia perhaps we are. actually either listing would be more accurate than being in the great plains, which we definately are not. please look at your maps and you will see we are in the coal mining region of illinois, which is foothills not plains.

the cities list 02.Aug.2005 11:30

bht

i wont have much time to constantly respond to this thread as it pertains to the cities list. however, i think it is justified to offer some insight into the cities list, where it came from, where it may be headed, and why all these people from outside cascadia are so concerned with it.

1. Insight. The cities list was a collabotrative project that had been discussed quite a few times as an idea over a year or so. it waited for someone to mock up an different version of the cities list that could be used as a new starting point. eventually that task was taken on and over the course of a month or so, a mock cities list was made, critiqued, revised, repeated and then went live. it had a quiet opening for a few days to see if it would be noticed. eventually it was noticed with this post to the newsiwre:  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/02/310784.shtml

shortly after that, it was decided to move the annoucement live and a newswire article was posted...eventually featured. it can be found here:  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/02/310808.shtml (and please note, that this article is always available at the bottom to the current cities list, where a discussion about the cities list and its direction is also housed)

the idea of breaking out of the "subtle" controls is the idea. it is a subtle control because it is so much easier to think of the "great north woods" as new york city or boston or new jersey. pillars of industrialism and the beginnings of this "great country". it is much harder to think that the northeast used to be an expansive forest that was called the great north woods. as far as i know there are no original woods left in the great north woods, all the "natural areas" that exists there are second growth, after the english imperialists destroyed all the natural forests and eventually they regrew. i could be wrong, but this is my understanding. anyway, the insight to this is to remember that we are not these lines on maps that governments beyond our control have designated, this is not "us" (note, it may be "you" if you have trouble with the cities list as it is, but it is not "us" as cascadians)

2. where it came from and where it may be headed. it came from cascadia. it came from the readers and writers of the site that spoke of bioregionalism and cascadia as a free state. it is for cascadians and folks that beleive in the idea of bioregionalism. i know that it is hard to grasp, while researching it, it was amazing to learn of all the natural demarcations of land that the governments, politicians, intellectuals, whatever of the past walked right over. it is great if someone from outside of cascadia appreciates it, and feels that it is a good job, but that isnt an expectation.

3. why are people outside cascadia so concerned with it? there is an inspirational poster in my house, it is the sun shining over a downtown street with people playing in the street, it says: "Life can be magic when we start to break free."
life can be magic
life can be magic
when we start to break free
when we start to break free

I respectfully disagree 02.Aug.2005 12:21

lurker chris

"For folks like Jennifer Whitney, the desire for making money as a journalist, forces them to condemn a true peoples media, overtly, or covertly."

That is such a strawman copout. 1) As stated below, she wrote this article for free. ie, NOT paid. 2) If she HAD been paid to write it, so what? Criticism is invalid because it wasn't from the magical place of purity?

Lots of reporters were paid to write stories in international newspapers that undermined the case for war in Iraq. Stories appeared in many "mainstream/corporate" news outlets, especially in Europe - ie, The Guardian - questioning the claims of the US and British government, following the Joseph Wilson affair, and so on. Does those peoples "desire for making money" invalidate what they had to say about that? (Keep in mind that much of that material was probably cut-and-pasted to multiple indymedia newswires.) Anything written by anyone who is paid to do is invalid and can be ignored? Or is a lie? Was the Iraq was justified, then?

"Newsflash - indymedia is about the business of putting the journalist out of business."

Newsflash - if that's the case, indymedia is doing pretty terrible at it. I don't know a single other person, out of the dozens (hundreds?) of co-workers, friends, family members, etc., who reads any left media whatsoever, let alone indymedia. If I showed it to them - especially, the more radical sites like this one - I'm quite sure they would look at me a bit funnily, wrinkle their nose, and return to getting their information from sources they consider reliable and coherent - CBC, BBC, the Globe and Mail, and so on.

If indymedia truly wants to "put the journalist out of business", then it's got be a lot more than a glorified BBS/message board/echo chamber for hardcore DIY-ers/cut-and-paste receptacle for material from alternet, commondreams, The Guardian, etc. It's great that people involved with PDX want to tell truth or whatnot, but I think most people pick up a newspaper to find out what's going on in London or Darfur or Gaza, etc. Can indymedia provide video footage or information on developments in Sudan, floods in Mumbai, etc. the way, say, the BBC can? Clearly not. Yet, you're going to "put the journalist" out of business? Uh huh. I'm sorry, but anyone who truly, honestly believes that statement is deluded or high.

A lurker,
chris

The Author of Don't Give Me No Lip Responds 02.Aug.2005 13:25

salaud

I appreciate Brian Awehali taking the time to respond. Firstly, I would like to say that I'm very pleased by Brian Awehali choosing to participate in what I feel is a very important strategic debate. I responded to his article, in some part because it attacked Portland indymedia, and I was transparent about it. He seems to be responding because I put LiP and corporate media in the same headline. Look at it this way, any buzz is good buzz, right? Wrong.

I am again going to take the road, which I think is most respectful, and I will respond to Brian Awehali's response one piece at a time.

Awehali says:

the frame of salaud's response is, in its title and argument, manipulative and just plain wrong. Nowhere in the piece does Jen argue -- and no one at LiP would argue -- that ANYONE should take ANYTHING in the "direction" of corporate media. (Whatever that hopelessly broad phrase even really means). This is a sloppy charge that sets up a false binary that gets no one anywhere. This is simply a dumb and inexact point. And salaud made it part of the title of hir response.
Of course, LiP or Whitney would not explicitly argue that we should take anything in the direction of corporate media. But, in fact, you are doing and asking, just that, perhaps not deliberately, but surely enough. I think the phrase "corporate media" is broad. But, it really does mean something. It is what indymedia is fighting against. Is it what LiP is fighting against? I will now try to be more exact about what I mean by the use of "corporate media" in my article and the very really continuum (not binary) of the MEANS of media work.

Being or mimicking corporate media means to mimick their idea of journalism, their internal hierarchical structures (chief editor, publishers, section editors, writers, apprentices, ad sales, etc.), and the way they support themselves, namely adverstisements. Whether or not Lip magazine is officially incorporated or whether Z magazine is incorporated has nothing to do with whether they mimick corporate media's MEANS of producing media. It is the means that I am focusing on all through my article and in my critique of mimicking corporate media in general. The PRODUCT of Z and The NY Times are different, but how close are the means?

This is what I see as corporate mimicking of means. From one corporate media source to the next the product is different and the people they get ads from are different, but how different are they really if they do things the same? If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, even if the poo smells different, it's still a duck.

So what I am talking about is not a binary. It is a continuum along which something mimics corporate media or corporate "journalism", more specifically. You can frankly call it "vexar holligander" or whatever you want, if the MEANS are similar, even if the SCALE is different, with a little luck and enough subscriptions, it will go right to the same place as NYT or NPR.

Media isn't independent or "non-independent" because people have to pay for it. That actually has no bearing on political or intellectual "integrity" whatsoever. Having to charge for something doesn't mean its de facto "profit driven." It means it costs money to produce media. What makes it independent are the values that guide and inform it, as well as its internal structure. Making any assumptions about LiP, for example, without bothering to consider anything beyond whether we sell it or not, is just a laughable mental shortcut. (Note: Whitney was not paid anything for this piece, and our core editorial group works on an all-volunteer basis, often contributing our own scarce funds).

Media is not independent or mimicking corporate media (money media, vexar holligander, etc.) because people have to pay for it. Yes, it does cost money to produce media. No, it doesn't mean it's necessarily profit driven. However, it's not independent, if it costs money for a writer to get published, and if money that it costs to produce the media doesn't come from the writer themself. Ad money makes a publication money media, non-independent. It is dependent on something else to make things go.

Writing your own book, printing it with your earned money or with money given to you without exchange, and distributing it yourself is independent media. Which I do and hold copyrights to some material. This is not indymedia, nor should it be. Having a band, playing shows where your labor is involved, using that money to help other bands, producing your own record, distributing that record yourself and managing your own affairs is an independent label. Ad money and that which does not come from the labor of the individual or group is not independent. Distribution deals are not independent...etc, etc. Don't go crying "binary, binary", that is a mental shorcut and dismissive tactic for sure. This is also a continuum.

If you make a profit and that some of that money goes into your pocket for things other than more printing, that's profit driven. You may call it "profit ridden", if you don't see it as what is driving. But, go down that path and it will be driving, I assure you, when a publication can't get the amount of distribution that it once enjoyed. That's when one sells out. It IS a dark path. Selling out is real. Greed is real.

Expecting your audience to NOT rely on you to sort out fact from fiction is a complete abdication of your responsibilities as a journalist. When the NYT publishes bullshit about WMDs or the like, "we" rightly criticize them for it. (We also understand that THEIR mission, unlike OURS is to SERVE, not CHALLENGE power).

Indymedia is trying to put "journalists" in the sense you are describing out of business. The power relationship where a reader must rely (or be dependent on) on a single or few widely distributed writer(s) to decern the facts is what we should be trying to erase. Especially, when we create a professional class of "journalists" whose facts, because they get paid, are given more authority. That is the relationship that is created by the word "journalist" and its means. My responsibility as an indymedia enabler is different, my mission is different, I am here to serve a WRITING community of people struggling to be their own, truly independent, media and to identify and challenge the power relationships, access issuses, and assumptions created from "journalism." I rightly criticize those that still hold to "journalism", a shit stained and sinking ship and I hope that is a service.

As for spelling... well, regardless of where you fall in the language usage camp, it's hard to get around one of the best points Whitney makes in her piece, about communication and its definition. Our audience has to be kept in mind at all times, since just telling isn't communication at all, and it's certainly not effective media. And attention *should* be paid to their likelihood of being able to understand what a journalist writes.

Let me say again, if it isn't obvious, that just reading isn't communication at all. Just reading is not effective media or communication at all. Just reading is the current model of "journalism". It's disempowering. No tree falling, no one heard it.

We must keep those we serve in mind (what Awehali calls, passively, an "audience"). Keeping who we serve in mind for indymedia means creating an atmosphere that is empowering to new writers and to writers who have little voice in our society, though they be good writers. Once they have a lot of voice and means to produce their own media, indymedia's service is complete. I hope the differences in framework that I talked in my article are becoming more clear and more exact.

Spellchecking and things of such nefarious ilk are merely tools for communication. Arguing that journalists (of any type) should disregard correct spelling, or that those who advocate the use of a spellchecker are somehow "elite" is just puritanical activist navelgazing drivel. No one's saying people have to KNOW how to spell "correctly" -- but what about hitting, oh, two buttons on even freeware word processing software, and spending, maybe, 5 minutes to correct misspellings? I think any argument against this can safely be set down, with a gentle pat on the head, in the "laziness" category.

I'll thank you not to pat my head from on high. Creating an atmosphere where someone who is too lazy (like that street bum...and why can't he just get a job?) has a barrier to publishing and being featured is not possible for indymedia. One's who advocate the use of a spellchecker are not just somehow "elite", they become the elite when they create a forum that serves them and reflects their advocacy as the standard or status quo. This, of course, alienates and disempowers those who can read it and between the lines all too well, but would not feel like they could write it. It is a apathetic liberal self-rationalizing short-sighted newspeak to not see or want to see this very real power relationship. If indymedia enablers can't see this, it would amount to not keeping in mind the community we serve.

There are many other parts to this line of argument about power. I'll throw some quick ones here. Language and power. History of journalism and the MEN that created it vs. the telling styles of WOMEN. History of journalism and the WHITE MEN that created it vs. the telling sytles non-whites... non-white men. You can argue till your face turns blue that without grammar and spelling there is no good communication but it always a side point. What encourages good communication when you are listeners is your intent and attention. If you really care what those people with bad spelling and grammar are saying you will hear it. If you don't, you will ignore and stick to reading that which reflects to you yourself over and over on into infinity. Nothing revolutionary there.

Bowing to a definition of journalistic integrity or political credibility that requires taking no money for your work leaves out those who can't afford to spend countless hours of their lives writing for free rather than working to do pesky things like feed, clothe and house themselves and their possible families. It's dumb. It smacks of people too afraid, ignorant, or insecure in their own political analysis or conviction to engage the complex issues of our times with a semblance of intellectual honesty.

Continuing to speak of changing your life and living it an accordance with your political analysis and conviction "rather than working to do pesky things like feed, clothe and house themselves and (their) possible families" as a impossible or unrealistic, leaves out and certainly does not encourage those who want to become something other than wage slaves. This point of view is not only dumb, it's dangerous, and it continues the cycle of oppression. This point of view smacks of people too afraid, ignorant or insecure, with little political analysis or conviciton to unchain themselves from the "complex issues of our times" (read capitalism and imperialism). I know and am encouraged by people I have met and groups that I have only heard about that have had the courage, foresight, and conviction to stay the course and to sacrifice money in order to get more time to do their political work. Do you want to change the realities of oppression, stagnation, and destruction or do you want to engage them as they are with "intellectual" honesty? Indymedia must build a true alternative and live what it wants its society to be.

Another perpspective on this is brought by PDX Dragon HERE :

For folks like Jennifer Whitney, the desire for making money as a journalist, forces them to condemn a true peoples media, overtly, or covertly. There is a conflict of interest in empowering people to tell their stories because that would reduce the chance to retain a paid position. .... Beware the person who tells you that you need them as a go between and who profits from it! The priest and the journalist are similar in this respect. Journalism is an ingrown institution. Concerned about their own self image and standing. That is one reason for the dogma of objectivity, because it fosters the pattern of content provider and consumer which is necessary for the paycheck. It subtly keeps people in the passive role.

Awehali says:

It's unfortunate that this debate about money and media essentially comes down to "be realistic and relevant" vs. "be right." I mean, OF COURSE money is a usually corrosive influence on media!

Is LiP magazine somehow immune to this corrosive influence? Why not have the courage and foresight to avoid the corrosive influence all together? "But, how can we get our easily acessible print message of our writers out to the largest possible audience?", you say. Don't get your unsustainable tree killing product out to the most people. Think small, think local. If not think about a sustainable alternative. One sustainable alternative is the digital medium. The digital medium has access problems. Focus on fixing those access problems to make it both more sustainable and more accessible. The side effect of fixing the access problems for media will be closing the information divide between have's and have not's. That's a double winner. Let's not go down the same road with the same methods, we'll end at the same point. Every publication has its price.

- salaud wrote, of Jen's (humorous) statement about the attractiveness of "counterrevolutionary" "restrictive site managers, editors, or word-count limits": "Those things are still counter-revolutionary. Of course, the author of the article finds them appealing. The article itself is counter revolutionary. The article is not really pro imperialist or anything like that, but simply comes from a reformist or status quo point of view. The point of view of the article and arguments leading from it can be best be summed up by saying, "indymedia should be a reform of the way corporate media does things, writing in the same style with the similar editorial criteria." This is not to say that some editorial policing of an indymedia site are not necessary for pragmatic reasons."

a) Jen wasn't saying those things *weren't* counterrevolutionary, and was, in fact, making a humorous and rhetorical point to set up a transition. I believe about 90% of the folks who read this article will get the oh-so-subtle nuance that salaud seems to have missed, perhaps willfully

I have to call bullshit here. She wasn't saying those things weren't counterrevolutionary. She was saying, "Now I find them appealing." What is so subtle about, "Now, I find them appealing"? If the joke was that she did find them counterrevolutionary, perhaps Awehali missed subtlety of the fact that she nows finds them appealing, that by extension her current position is counterrevolutionary. I certainly didn't willfully miss anything. I'll lob that ball back in Awehali's court on this one.

b) There is NOTHING in Whitney's argument that's reformist or status quo in any meaningful way. The "counterrevolutionary" aspersion is so debased and subjective, in this context, when articulated this sloppily, that it strikes me as comical. Arguing for effectiveness and discussing ways to actually be more effective -- whether you agree with the article's arguments or not -- is not tantamount to being counterrevolutionary. And just because salaud wants to offer hir ill-conceived interpretation of Jen's piece doesn't make it so. It's opinion masquerading as analysis.

There's NOTHING? Then that must have been a hella-revolutionary article and I must have just been asleep. I don't agree with the her article's arguments. Specifically, her solutions to her valid critiques of indymedia. But, plainly her solutions ARE a restatement of the status quo. As a courtesy, please state her solutions and frameworks to the current problems of indymedia and show how these are somehow different from the status quo of the principles of "journalism."

Further, what Awehali is trying to do by saying my article is "opinion masquerading as analysis" is to invoke a chimeric distinction from "journalism" to discredit my article. This is exactly what I (and PDX Dragon) were illustrating about the power relationships created by those that are trying to be "journalists". It means hiding behind and using "journalistic" principles as weapons against those that would speak truth other than them or agaist them. Everyone knows that there is hardly any distinction in "journalism", and especially truly corporate (as in INC, LLC, LLP, Sole Proprietarship), between opinion and analysis. The both inform and influence each other. I am transparent about it, Awehali tries to use it as a shield and a sword. Somehow we are supposed to believe that Awehali's piece is not personally motivated opinion and analysis at the same because he is a "journalist" and Editor and mine is.

And, um, salaud, are you noting the internal contradiction of your charges against Jen's piece, as you articulate them in this paragraph, and your statement that ***some editorial policing of indymedia sites is necessary for pragmatic reasons?***

There is no contradiction to be had. The pragmatic policing that I am speaking of comes from a different framework. Portland gets hundreds of posts a week, alot of them re-posts of corporate and other articles, duplicates (accidental and deliberate), and deliberate attemps to reduce the functionality of the site. It is pragmatic for us to put the re-posts off the newswire in a separate section, leave only one copy of duplicates, and remove deliberate attempts to reduce the functionality of the site. This is NO WAY means editing of articles, choosing not to feature an article on the basis of its grammatic and spelling content, or on any other basis similar for which Whitney is encouraging. There are still obviously parts of the editorial policy which are not based on pragmatism for an indymedia (such as Portland) to not leave hate posts on the newswire.

For the record, the copyright statement at the end of the UCIMC version of the piece is kind of a non-copyright statement. Jen "owns" her copyright for her work, and the UCIMC reproduced it, as the statement says, without any "authorizations." LiP does, in fact, place a copyright notice on articles that appear on our site, but it's important to note that this is a matter of strategy, not capitulation to capitalist conceptions of intellectual property. We do it mostly so people who want to reprint stuff that's appeared in LiP are compelled to email us and ask! We want to know about it! I don't think we've ever turned down a fellow non-profit or grassroots media project when they've asked to use something from LiP. But automated corporate "content aggregators," as well as some who would seek to undermine or co-opt our efforts, are somewhat slowed by copyright notices.

First let's take the quotation marks off of "owns". Jen owns her copyright. I own my copyrights. Let's not pretend what they are and why we did it? Most of Awehali's response is rationalization for the sacred cow of taking money and following corporate media models to make media like this paragraph.

Giving LiP the benefit of the doubt, which I think is totally proper in the case of their type of publication, if the strategy is to compell people to ask permission, why not just use a much less restrictive license? One that allows free distribution of the article for anyone not making money and compels those making money to ask permission or give them no permission at all? Even though what LiP does is not really important to me at all, my article is about indymedia, I think there are other areas more toward the radical side of the spectrum of capitulation to the capitalist conceptions that they could be taking.

In other words, if the mere presence of an automated copyright blurb at the end of an article really "sums it up" for salaud, then I think that really sums up the value and substance of salaud's critique.
Now there is most likely a deliberate mis-representation of what I meant and another attempt to a hand waving discreditation to my article. I wasn't talking about the "mere presence of an automated copyright blurb", I was talking about the fact that Whitney owns a copyright to the material and that LiP agrees or capitulates (there's a lot of capitulating going on from Whitney and LiP's perspectives) to it. Still, if one thinks that one's article, especially a critique of indymedia for g*d's sake, should be copyrighted, that is "Nuff Said" for me. That person has no idea and no conviction about indymedia or its direction.
- "Et tu [blank]" is ALWAYS a maudlin, overwrought gagfest. And, as is certainly true in this case, those who employ it are usually enamored of its razor without comprehending its actual meaning. What, did salaud suffer some fatal metaphorical stabbing at the hands of the murderous Joshua Brietbart? Is salaud actually taking on the figurative mantle of Julius Caesar (by way of Shakespeare)--which is deeply and humorously ironic no matter HOW you look at it--while calling Brietbart a traitor for saying, literally, that independent media needs to grow and diversify?

Again, of course, another transparent misrepresentation of what I was saying, that I would only expect to find in true "journalism." Of course, the Caesarian character is not me, but indymedia. As to comprehending its actual meaning, I was quoting from Shakespeare, a fiction, which seems to be most historical source that Awehali knows for the account of Caesar's death, which is ironic anyway you look at it. I was also more importantly alluding to the scene in Plutarch's, "The Fall of the Roman Empire", (pp 272-273 of the 1958 edition by Penquin Classics), which I have read, and to which I imagine and Shakespeare and Awehali have had access, and which I think is very instructive in the slippery slope that we go down when we capitulate little by little to the status quo.

Maybe, I should have instead quoted from the Plutarch, and made Breitbart the character of Casca who struck the first blow. Plutarch reports:

At almost the same moment the striker of the blow (Casca) and he who was struck cried out together - Caesar, in Latin, "Casca, you villain, what are you doing?" while Casca called to his brother in Greek: 'Help, brother'
Casca, I say, your brother LiP magazine has come to your aid.

Lastly, because I can't resist either, I will say that if indymedia capitulates little by little and uses the same tyrannical methods, frameworks and standards of "journalism" that some like Whitney and LiP magazine and their ilk seem to profess as solutions to indymedia's problems, I must say, as is more appropriately attributed to Brutus after putting Caesar out of business, 'Sic Semper Tyrannis' (Thus Ever to Tyrants).

-END-

post scriptum: Any chance the next time there is a sacred cow issue of LiP, that critiques of "independent" journalism such as mine will be included. Can we sacrifice that cow?


a quick note on the cities list and the broader pattern 02.Aug.2005 13:32

indy volunteer #742

The criticism on the cities list seems to take the form "I can't find the imc I'm looking for." I would suggest that if you know what imc you are looking for then you don't need the cities list (and perhaps don't even use the cities list). You can search the page for it or search the web for it. New Jersey is a great example of how the portland cities list shifts the paradigm. If you search for new jersey you will immediately see the other imc's around new jersey rather than those imc's who have names that are alphabetically similar to new jersey. From what I've been told by those who have found the cities list useful is that the value has come from seeing a city that struck there interest. That is, people tend to browse instead of search (because searching can be done through the browser, or through a web search). If one was searching a big alphabetical list could be useful (though sometimes not, if say, you wanted to find an imc for northeastern ny). But if one was browsing it could be far more useful to see imc's that are in proximity to one another, which are often of interest to the reader. So looking for northeastern new york one could find the other new york sites and assume it's under the same heading. Likewise, if one searches for new jersey one might happen to catch their eye on hudson-mohawk and be intrigued enough to click on it to find out where that is and what they are doing.

I think the problem with the larger critiques is that people think that others share the same goal. An alphabetical list of cities might make sense if you wanted to help people quickly find a city they are looking for without having to search. But if your goal is to put related, relevant information together in a way that facilitates education and inspiration than an alternative layout probably makes more sense. And if one's goal is to produce alternative media they will take very different actions that those whose goal is to empower others to produce media and empower still others. In the united states very few people are taught how to begin a discussion by laying out the assumptions. And if one assumes that the goal of any particular indymedia site is one thing or another then it's easy to criticize them against that goal which they might not share. But a far more useful critique would take into account what that site was trying to achieve and measure their effectiveness against that.

How About Responding to My Main Criticism? 02.Aug.2005 13:35

DJ Shadow

My main problem with the cities list is that it's inaccessible for folks who aren't part of Cascadia, or aren't hip to bioregionalism--which is probably a bunch of people. I live in Portland--I'm somewhat hip to local activist jargon, and I have trouble finding other cities. Don't you think it's going to be even harder for someone from outside Turtle Island? Someone who does't speak English as their first language? Someone who isn't part of the Cascadian activist ghetto?

How about having an option of using an old-fashioned cities list, or maybe using a map?

Cities List and Access 02.Aug.2005 14:04

salaud

The cities list is a challenge to the existing knowledge base. It does make things harder to find for people starting at the conventional starting points. It's akin to having to learn the metric system or learning another language. It's hard and requires work. But, it's necessary and it's good medicine. Let it be a challenge to you. If we make every decision about how to move forward in the restrictive light of how it might affect people coming from an old mindset we are paralyzed.

It does cost money to make video and audio. But, there ARE free resources. That's one of the things that indymedia is all about. Providing those resources and maintaing them for free (as in freedom, not as in beer). Please use the resources and create resources of your own, that fit your collective means, and make them available to others.

I respectfully agree 02.Aug.2005 14:17

salaud

lurker said: "That is such a strawman copout. 1) As stated below, she wrote this article for free. ie, NOT paid. 2) If she HAD been paid to write it, so what? Criticism is invalid because it wasn't from the magical place of purity? "

1) She copyrighted it. Doesn't mean she can't make money of it in the future. It doesn't mean that LiP magazine didn't make money off of it. 2) Being paid to do something limits the range of what types of criticisms can be done and how sharply. I didn't notice any criticism of LiP magazine or supposed "independent" journalism in her article. I would be suprised to find that sort of criticism in LiP magazine. But, I am not unsurprised to see her article on an indymedia. The purity is not magical....it's all too real.

"If indymedia truly wants to "put the journalist out of business", then it's got be a lot more than a glorified BBS/message board/echo chamber for hardcore DIY-ers/cut-and-paste receptacle for material from alternet, commondreams, The Guardian, etc. It's great that people involved with PDX want to tell truth or whatnot, but I think most people pick up a newspaper to find out what's going on in London or Darfur or Gaza, etc. Can indymedia provide video footage or information on developments in Sudan, floods in Mumbai, etc. the way, say, the BBC can?"

I don't think that is what indymeda is. Most people do pick up the newspaper to find out what's "going on" that way. It doesn't mean that's actually what IS going on or that those newspapers cover such a wide variety of topics. They cover mainstream topics or specifically the topics that sell newspapers. In fact, indymedia has been the best source covering events all around the globe that are of interest to people with a social justice consciousness. Corporate media use indymedia as source for their news for these topics....and of course they twist them. Indymedia is at its starting point. The point is not to create a huge readership, for me, as to create a huge writership. Truth is indymedia can cover those events better than the BBC can. How many BBC reports do you imagine were/are in Sudan or Mumbai. Count them on one hand I imagine. Now imagine if the people who actually live there were writing there own stories about it. When indymedia is used as a community resource it always does a better job than corporate media. Stay tuned.

One more thought on putting workers out of business 02.Aug.2005 14:23

thoughts

The idea of "putting journalists out of business" just a has a conservative sound to it since lowering the price of news stories doesnt mean putting the companys that sell newspapers out of business (just look at all those weeklys with unpaid and low paid news stories) it just means making it so only independently wealthy people and people with the freedom to have flexible jobs can be reporters.

For Indymedias with offices, Im also curious to know who cleans the floors, checks the mail and answering machines.... Even among those with time to do free work the people most adament about work being upaid always seem to be the people doing fun work while boring organizational stuff falls on people with less power within the groups (often women and minorities and sometimes youth). "Dont complain about wages since you should be doing this for the movement" sounds ok at first but does sound a little like what one hears surrounding the powerdynamics of people doing housework, or businesses telling workers that maybe they should think about another job if they complain since if they really loved their work they wouldnt mind working more hours without pay (with the implied view that they are unworthy of the job if they dont pretend to like it)

further clarification on the cities list with examples 02.Aug.2005 14:29

indy volunteer #742

I'll try again and see if I can be more clear. If someone is looking for new jersey they don't have to know anything about the "great north woods". They just have to search or scan for new jersey. The advantage to this model is that they can also find sites that are geographically similar which are potentially far more useful than imc's that start with the same first letter.

Take, for example, someone looking for an imc in ashland or medford. The traditional cities list offers no help in finding rogue valley imc which would be listed between probably rochester and saint louis. But with the portland list one could find the area around ashland by finding a nearby city (probably portland in this case) and see the other imc's in the region, including rogue valley. And, as I stated, if you already know the city you're looking for than on any list it will be faster to just search for that city.

Here's another example, to get at your thoughts about people not from turtle island. Imagine if you know of a protest happening in the south of france and you want to see if the local imc is covering it. Unless you really know your french cities finding the right site in an alphabetic list of european cities probably won't help you much. In the portland cities list so long as you remember that paris is in france you can find paris and look at the imc's in that region. It still might take some visiting to various sites to find the right one, but the task is far easier than it would be to click through all of the cities in the alphabetic european cities list. So, it stands to reason that if it is easier for someone not from europe to find the right imc using the portland cities list, then it might be easier for someone not from turtle island to find the right imc instead of hunting through an alphabetic list.

I tend to find the layout far more accessible for the kinds of situations people have explained to me in person. Again, this most often comes up with someone seeing an imc and being really interested in what that imc is doing. In a long alphabetical list sometimes a site will still jump out at people from time to time, but I suspect it is more common for a site to catch people when they see it next to other sites they are interested in.

Several volunteers been looking at imc maps but they are often times difficult to use as well. They can provide the ability to see imc's that are geographically close, like the Portland list, but they are much harder to scan, and don't help people if they have an idea about an area but not a concrete idea of where that area is.

A link to an alphabetic cities list seems like a waste since the first sites on the cities list are global and us both of which have such lists. If you really find value in the alphabetic listing I'd suggest just clicking on one of those sites.

another attempt at clarification 02.Aug.2005 14:49

indy volunteer #742

This seems to be such the crux of what people don't understand, despite salaud articulating quite well numerous times by now:

"Indymedia should seek to pull information from the community it serves and not push things at them."

"Again, indymedia should not be about pushing content to passive readers, but pulling content from active posters. If one wants to use the old model and tactics, just start your own independent newspaper or website and write or edit the damn articles."

"The point is not to create a huge readership, for me, as to create a huge writership."

Again, back to the questions of goals and visions. If the goal is to create readership and push content at people (the traditional journalistic model) focusing on spelling and grammar (as an example) might make sense. If the goal is to pull content from people and create writership then grammar and spelling become barriers to that goal. 2 different goals; 2 different visions. I really hope people can understand that because I believe that's why people struggle with the statement "indymedia is about the business of putting the journalist out of business."

It's not that people are going to all start reading indymedia and therefore journalists are going to be out of business. It's that indymedia is playing a role in empowering people to tell their own stories and to encourage them to empower others to do the same and once that happens there will be little to no need for some corporate for-profit third party to tell their stories. People are always better at telling their own stories; they just need to be empowered to do so. And that is my goal in doing indymedia work.

Make Media, Make Real Trouble 02.Aug.2005 15:41

Jennifer Whitney

A few immediate corrections I'd like to make:

1) Salaud inserts hir clever little "(sic)" into the title given to my article by Alternet. So go take it up with them—the title of my article, as published in that commercial publication, LiP Magazine, is "Make Media, Make Real Trouble: What's Wrong (and Right) With Indymedia."

2) I have never chosen to put my work under copyright. If you look at the hard copy of LiP (did anyone buy a copy? There are beautiful photos donated by Indymedia photographers, not to mention lots of great articles too) you will see that all articles are copyright to LiP, not to individual authors. I would prefer that LiP, and any other magazine with which I publish, use copyleft or Creative Commons, and yet I understand and respect Brian Awehali's explanation of why LiP articles get copywritten. Sometimes I work with people, and publications, with whom I disagree on a few things. Maybe that's hard for some people to imagine doing.

3) I have been paid for journalism twice in the five years that I've been publishing; both times by a London-based magazine. However, I think that whether I get paid or not is beside the point, though I find it amusing that so many people have chosen to vilify me based on the assumption that I'm making money as a writer. PDX Dragon says "For folks like Jennifer Whitney, the desire for making money as a journalist... ." Dragon has distorted the idea of what "folks like Jennifer Whitney" might be desiring, in order to suit their assumptions that I am some sort of Clear Channel Godzilla trying to wipe out all "true peoples [sic] media" in my wake.

Now I want to address the subtle, and not-so-subtle twists of my words, and attempts to mislead readers. First, by not posting my article in full, Salaud sets the reader up to read hir rebuttal before the piece that inspired it. That's not what I think of as honest or well-intentioned - it's the equivalent of loading the dice. S/he claims that by not posting it, s/he is just following policy. I don't buy it.

Salaud then refers to my writing about their editorial policies, saying: "... hate posts (that she remembers from 3.5 years ago)... ." The implication is that my memory is faulty. I'd like to point out that I didn't merely "remember" them - I also reread the archived originals, as can you if you do a search on Portland's search engine for Volksfront, or Metzger, or Eric Banks (which leads to a story done by the Anti Racist Action Research Bulletin about the Volksfront event, and other nazi activity in Portland).

Pdximcista - the first person from Portland Indymedia to critique my article on UCIMC - remarked on that site that s/he didn't know about the LaRouche articles and asked that I post a link. Over here in Cascadia, Salaud responded to Not Interested's remark on posts by nazi scum, saying "You may be right. Please post links to those articles you are speaking about. But, was Whitney speaking about those articles?"

Yes, Whitney was speaking about those articles - did you read my article? Let me refresh your memory; I wrote: "... in the last 13 months, the Portland IMC has hosted at least seven articles by or in support of antisemitic cult leader Lyndon LaRouche, the most recent from April of this year."

Now, I'm not going to post links to articles by and in support of fascists, but anyone can do the search quite easily and find them on the Portland site, as well as plenty of discussion about LaRouche's racist and fascist history posted by vigilant readers, including DJ Shadow.

The most recent pro-LaRouche post, as I said, was last April, just three months ago. Not three-and-a-half years ago, but three months. In December of 2004, there was an interview with LaRouche posted. So with regards to my inclusion of history in my article - chances are good that I'd have omitted the Volksfront story had I not found contemporary examples of fascist posts remaining on the site, but since I did, I felt that the Volksfront story provided relevant background information and context.

Salaud also says that "She characterized her points as being about grammar, hate posts, and access for underserved communities. These may not have been her true points or motivations, but it's what she said."

I don't know what it would mean to "characterize" my points, and I certainly didn't "say" that those were my points. I wrote an article, which was about, among other things, effective communication and some things that detract from it. It was not an article about hate posts or bad grammar.

And while we're on the subject of communication: Reading IS communication, Salaud - communication between writers and readers. It's communication that is mediated by time, and distance, and paper, and sometimes things like editors, publishing houses, money, distributors, book stores, infoshops, etc. Most communication is mediated in some way or other, (and let's please not pretend that participating in an IMC discussion is somehow less mediated than reading when you've also got the electric companies, the folks who made your browser, and your computer, the telecom that provides your connection, bla bla bla). Salaud talked about "just reading," as if people read in a vacuum and emerge from the process without a new thought or emotion or idea or plan in their head. People write, people read, people think, people discuss and debate, as we are doing here, and people act. I don't see any of those things occurring in isolation, except perhaps in some academic settings. I certainly didn't encourage passive consumption of my article, nor did Brian encourage passive consumption of LiP. We seek to engage our readers, or audience, or community, or whatever you'd like to call it. We set out to communicate, and, thankfully, lots of people are joining in and communicating with us.

I recognize the potential of open publishing, and I believe in the power of storytelling - otherwise I wouldn't have spent three years of my life co-editing a book comprising 55 stories from 26 countries—stories that were written, with few exceptions, by unknown writers. I also know that, as Thoughts suggested in hir recent post, not everyone has the luxury of spending lots of time reading through mountains of posts to the newswire. Open publishing is neat, and it has a lot of faults. But I never suggested that a solution to those faults is that all Indymedias should have editors correcting and fact-checking all posts, nor that everyone who posts should be sure they write in AP style. I sure don't.

Storytelling works so well because it engages people, and enables them to enter a world, or perspective they didn't previously have access to. That is the great potential for Indymedia, that is why I believe in it, support it, and write for and otherwise volunteer with IMCs. That is also why I chose to critique it, to challenge it/us to get better. I don't know too many people who use any Indymedia site regularly. I lived in Portland for three years, and didn't know many folks there who use their local site either. Over the years, in my work and in my travels, I started asking people why. Their answers became the foundation for my article—an article that is, of course, just one person's opinion (people keep slamming it on that basis, as though their own posts were somehow more than that), but, I assure you, this article has found resonance with other people who aren't all entering the fray here, including a current member of Portland's collective, who wrote privately to me (though I don't know the person) to thank me for addressing issues that they agree with. I don't have their permission to quote from their email, or else I would. I only hope that person is able to communicate their thoughts with the rest of their collective.

More on personal opinions: In Salaud's response called "Picky," I found it interesting that s/he sets up a dichotomy of "Her assumption" vs. "Correct assumption." I'd like to know why and how Salaud's personal opinion gets transmogrified into being the "correct" one.

Another example of Salaud putting words in my mouth: "Whitney is the one saying that to be exemplary means you must be like UC, NYC, North Texas IMC, not me." I said nothing of the sort. The Bolivia IMC is nothing like the North Texas IMC, which is nothing like the UK IMC, which is nothing like the Brazil IMC. I never suggested that any one group should try to be like any other—in fact, I focused on groups that differ greatly. What makes those groups interesting, in my opinion, is that they are relevant to their local/regional/national communities, are experimental, and in some cases, are deeply involved in struggles beyond those directly related to making media, and facilitating media-making (such as the overthrow of various presidents in Bolivia, which, I must add, was NOT led by "paid activists," as was postulated by Thoughts, in hir point called "some differences"). Exemplary, to me, means different things for different communities. I did not and do not advocate a cookie-cutter model of media making, and resent having my words twisted so.

Salaud also says that by being "picky" s/he is actually flattering or being respectful of me. I must say I didn't feel flattered or respected in the least when s/he (though with this, I suspect maybe he) referred to me, demeaningly, as "miss Whitney." Would s/he be so quick to belittle me if I wrote with a male or gender-neutral name?

And one last word on the cities list - I lived in Cascadia for 12 years, and am well familiar with the bioregionalism informing the remapping. I love maps, particularly "alternative" mappings of places, ranging from the Peters Projection  link to www.petersmap.com that show the arbitrariness of north being placed at the top, and put Australia and Antarctica up there instead of Greenland and Siberia. That said, I think Portland's efforts at working on a map based on bioregions and historical geography are interesting, but need more work (what about Aztlán, for example - if you're talking about historic woods, maybe historic people should come into play too), and might be more appropriate as a map to hang on the wall, as bht described, than as a navigational system for the people from all over the world (and, as DJ Shadow points out, from within Cascadia too) who look at Portland's site and can't find their way around because as far as they've seen, there aren't any woods left in New York City.

If the map is based, as bht says, on geographical considerations, well, we get back to the delta as a bit of land and not a blues music phenomenon. If it is based on geographical OR sociological considerations, it's still hard for me to see why Tijuana, San Diego, and San Francisco end up in the same region.

Okay, sorry if my links didn't come out right - I don't know html - and thanks again for reading, engaging, communicating, and hopefully, making some real trouble.

So much crap, so little time to respond 02.Aug.2005 16:37

Working Class Portland IMCista

I come from an "underserved community", as do many other Portland IMCistas. I am not stupid(like you would so hope). People can sort fact from fiction. This is what the comment section is for. Not for the intellectualist, classist crap you naive yuppies barf all over it. I find that bullshit not only boring but most importantly useless.
I'm incredibly offended that you, who by the very way you write expose your class priviledge, would DARE to use me or my community as your amunition/justification for your continued power over media. So many of the folks who have posted here on this thread are so painfully ignorant of not only the poor communities in Portland but aparently the U.S. in general.
But let me clear up just a couple things for you(don't have time for more) since you're clearly to afraid to actually work with poor people and ask what we need.
Internet Access:
In Portland there is free internet access almost everywhere. Not just the libraries. The libraries are annoying because you only get 1 hour. So many tech activists have setup (and still are expanding) a free wireless network over Portland and are working tirelessly to get free computers in all public spaces and schools. FreeGeek trains people how to work on computers among other skills and then give them their own free computer. People here have recognised the dangers of the digital divide and are doing too many things to list about it. SO, what are you gonna do about it? Shut your mouth, get off your ass, and get to it.
Print:
I can not afford to print and distribute. Neither can anyone I know. This is incredibly disempowering! Print is a very one way media. A few rich pigs speaking down to the rest of us, telling us what revolution is or is not. Mother fuck your propaganda! I have my own voice and am able to use it how I want. I have a much more clear understanding of what my problems are than you do. I'm also a million times more likely to actually do something useful about it. If you want to serve underserved communities, ASK don't tell what needs to be done. Besides in Portland, every newspaper rack is irritatingly cram-packed overflowing with print projects, thanks to Reed College kids. Definitely not necessary for Portland. Although at one point a few folks were printing stories from the website onto regular printer paper and handing them out everywhere for a while. Anyone in Portland is more than welcome to start doing that again if they like.
Portland Indymedia:
Pdx Imc is very well known and used in Portland because people, like myself, actually go out into the communities and ask what they need and ask how we can better serve them. Not only does this make us more effective in the Portland communities, it makes us better known. I go to organisation meetings, neighborhood association meetings, events, churches, etc. to educate people about Portland Indymedia and how they can use us. This should be the work of a so-called "journalist", encouraging others to talk about their lives and what they need. Not the hairbrained, ass-backward, socially retarded, concept of yuppy brats with degrees prattling on like naive fools about the lives of others with a laughable(if not downright decietful/dubius) pretense of objectivity.

I work with Pdx Imc and was initially attracted to it because of it's model of empowerment. I've always been a do-it-yourself kind of person(as are most folks who have to survive). So this idea really rung bells for me.
Sometimes the workload can be stressful with work, child, bills, etc. But it's worth it to me and I make the time when I can. It means sacrifices, yes but everything in life requires sacrifices. I'm fortunate in that I have a partner who also works and we take turns shouldering burdens as we volunteer for indymedia. It's true not everyone can do this. But everyone can report for indymedia and that is truely the fruits of a Pdx Imcistas labor!

Bottomline is, if you want to make a difference, you gotta get outta your comfort zone and share the skills that you've had the priviledge to be taught. No matter what, if you insist on institutionalised condescending reporting, you'll always be a joke to the rest of us working class folks because you can't really relate. However, you have skills and resources that you could be sharing, that can change lives. So, get out there and do it already!

above comment 02.Aug.2005 16:57

Working Class Portland IMCista

Several posts apeared before mine that I had not read. I was mainly referring to many of the replies and not to Whitney directly. Perhaps I'll save that for another time when I'm not so worked up by the classist shit.

Jennifer, your criticisms of portland seem so trivial to me 02.Aug.2005 17:32

reader

>> First, by not posting my article in full, Salaud sets the reader up to read hir rebuttal before the piece that inspired it.

The link was in the very first sentence. I read your article first, then this one. I don't think there was any setup nor do I think it would matter to read the articles in a different order (give people some credit) so long as one read both.

>> Portland IMC has hosted at least seven articles by or in support of antisemitic cult leader Lyndon LaRouche

Wow, 7 whole articles, out of what, tens of thousands. And I'm sure one could not find similar postings on just about every other imc site... Though unlike you I have no desire to crawl through the archives of various imc sites looking for articles that were either overlooked or deemed worthy of discussion for whatever reason. Furthermore, just because LaRouche may be a fascist does that mean he doesn't have anything worthwhile to say? What happened to "Sometimes I work with people, and publications, with whom I disagree on a few things. Maybe that's hard for some people to imagine doing." People have reposted Pat Buchannan's articles (from antiwar.com probably) on terrorism and empire on this site. Buchanan is a racist homophobe but he has some insight into terrorism and empire in my opinion. Shouldn't there be a place for that, especially when a mechanism exists for readers to caution others about the background of an author?

As for the cities list, talk about a trivial critique. I mean who fucking cares how the cities list is organized? I've never used it, it's not news, and when I want to find an indymedia that I don't know the address of I just google it. The above examples made perfect sense to me as to why someone could better find what they were looking for using the portland listing. And really, if you don't like it, don't use it, but talk about a petty complaint. What's worse is it really detracted from the article to waste so much space on these insignificant criticisms instead of serious concerns like why most imc's (unlike portland) still don't remove corporate reposts from their newswires.

one last thing for people to consider 02.Aug.2005 17:53

reader

Since Jennifer continues to make such a big deal about those evil 7 articles by Larouche and refuses to post links to them (heaven forbid people be trusted to decide the merits of a piece for themselves instead of dismissing them out of hand due to the author) I decided to take a look at them for myself. I did a search for articles authored by "Larouche". I came up with 3 hits (yes I'm sure the others are just not under that name). I looked at the most recent which was:

Priority Campaign Issue Is President Bush's Insanity
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/10/299461.shtml

This is a repost from the larouche pac dates Oct 10, 2004.

So it has LaRouche talking about Bush's insanity, supporting Kerry, some history, some thoughts on religion, pretty broad really (especially once it gets to the q&a).

There were some things I liked and agreed with, some things that I didn't. I liked his thoughts on Cheney being a sociopath and raising the issue of Bush's insanity. He criticizes the free trade agreements and relates them to Christianity. I can't say I got a lot out of the article but I don't see how it violates the editorial policy.

I can agree with those that think LaRouche is insane because he did support Kerry and wanted to reform the democrat party (which I think fits the definition of insane quite nicely, at least Einstein's definition). And if he is a fascist (I'm really not familiar with his background), it's not like I'm not voting for him or supporting him in any way. I'm not going to support any fascist speeches, but rants about history, religion, and the insanities of the current administration I have no problem with. I might look at some of those other ever-so-damning 7 articles later tonight.

question 03.Aug.2005 11:22

Curious

LaRouche seems to be a mix of pragmatic and wacky. In the very short reading I did on him, due to Whitney's condemnation, he condemns the current adminstration, and expresses concern about fascism. I do not see from where Whitney calls him a fascist. He seems to have authoritarian tendencies, but then so do many people and institutions. Can someone please explain why these writing should be removed and what makes Larouche a fascist.

reply to DJ Shadow 03.Aug.2005 11:23

PDX Dragon

"My main problem with the cities list is that it's inaccessible for folks who aren't part of Cascadia, or aren't hip to bioregionalism--which is probably a bunch of people."


And the New Zealand imc used a name that the huge majority of the world does not recognize. Same with the indigenous imc's of South America. Expediency is not the only concern.

I find the new cities list easier to use when I look at places with names I do not recognize. Now I at least have a regional context to put them in, instead of a whole continent.

The new list is a work in progress. Again, some like it, some do not. An interactive map would be ideal. Care to produce one?

Enable Media, Make Real Trouble 03.Aug.2005 14:34

salaud

This is generally a response to Whitney. However, it is one of the last responses I can write, at this time, because, though I love this topic, and I love indymedia, frankly, my fingers and brain get tired, so it will also include, near the end, more general responses. I will try to keep it shorter, 'cause lord knows, as some have noted, my responses have been expansive. I can only defend their length by saying that I am passionate about making indymedia something great and think about the topic a lot.

I am going to go point by point again:

1) Salaud inserts hir clever little "(sic)" into the title given to my article by Alternet. So go take it up with them?the title of my article, as published in that commercial publication, LiP Magazine, is "Make Media, Make Real Trouble: What's Wrong (and Right) With Indymedia."
Fair enough.

Whitney says:

2) I have never chosen to put my work under copyright. If you look at the hard copy of LiP (did anyone buy a copy? There are beautiful photos donated by Indymedia photographers, not to mention lots of great articles too) you will see that all articles are copyright to LiP, not to individual authors.
Awehali, Editor of LiP magazine says:
For the record, the copyright statement at the end of the UCIMC version of the piece is kind of a non-copyright statement. Jen "owns" her copyright for her work, and the UCIMC reproduced it, as the statement says, without any "authorizations." LiP does, in fact, place a copyright notice on articles that appear on our site, but it's important to note that this is a matter of strategy, not capitulation to capitalist conceptions of intellectual property.

I am not sure who to trust here. I am betting on Whitney being correct.

Whitney says:

I would prefer that LiP, and any other magazine with which I publish, use copyleft or Creative Commons, and yet I understand and respect Brian Awehali's explanation of why LiP articles get copywritten. Sometimes I work with people, and publications, with whom I disagree on a few things. Maybe that's hard for some people to imagine doing.

I am going to say this a few times in this article, because I think (I hope) we are reaching the end of this round of talking about this topic online at least. I want to try to communicate to Whitney that my article and more especially this one is not meant as personal attack for what Whitney or LiP magazine does with their lives/projects. My article is about indymedia. I am saying that those things that they do don't match with the philosophy or apply to indymedia. They aren't the right paths for our work. Not that they are horrible mean nasty ugly things to do for other paths.

Now, I just want to say that in indymedia we cannot come to a place of respectful understanding about why an indymedia would copywrite anything on a website. It's wrong. It's the antithesis of what we should be trying to accomplish in indymedia work. As an indymedia enabler I and others work with people that we disagree with on a few things all the time. I personally feel more willing to work with liberals and perhaps even some more libertarian types than others, at least here at Portland. I think it is important to empower everyone. That's about me. But, I think that indymedia enablers should be willing to enable people with whom they disagree. By and large they do....so success! I disagree with Josh (I know I didn't show him in a good light perhaps with respect to his statement) and Sascha on some things. I still think they are great because they are committed to doing this indymedia work. That is to say that while on the continuum of indymedia philosophy and pratice we may be far apart, on the continuum of people on the whole, we are very close together. The fact that we have so much more in common than not, should not prevent me or anyone else from having a very real critique, that is meant to be constructive. I don't fault Whitney for trying to do that. I think I make that statement in the first line(s) of my article. I don't think that the critique was altogether constructive because it didn't provide solutions that I think will help indymedia and it singled out and misrepresented Portland.

Whitney says:

3) I have been paid for journalism twice in the five years that I've been publishing; both times by a London-based magazine. However, I think that whether I get paid or not is beside the point, though I find it amusing that so many people have chosen to vilify me based on the assumption that I'm making money as a writer.

For my part I don't want to villify Whitney for taking money for articles. I just don't want it to be considered ok for indymedia work. Again, it's fine and dandy if you want to do that in different projects, but I would tend to villify those that said they should apply to indymedia. Except, for a very few in this world, we all walk multiple paths in this life. I respect and am encouraged by those that try to make all aspects of their lives unified with respect to their politics and conviction. I cannot do that now, I think. Not many can. I have to go to work in a capitalist world to pay for my rent and to enable others to do media. I can't pretend that I don't contribute to capitalism by working in it. We couldn't pretend we weren't contributing to the tyranny of corporate media by using it's tactics (intellectual property and others) in indymedia. Indymedia needs a chance to grow in an environment that does not capitulate or take on the poisons of the old "journalism" right now, or ever. We must stay away from those ways of doing things or we will de done before we have even really started. Indymedia was born in new tactics, we are developing new tactics and philosophies now, let's continue to walk this new path and not regress for a while.

Whitney says:

Now I want to address the subtle, and not-so-subtle twists of my words, and attempts to mislead readers. First, by not posting my article in full, Salaud sets the reader up to read hir rebuttal before the piece that inspired it. That's not what I think of as honest or well-intentioned - it's the equivalent of loading the dice. S/he claims that by not posting it, s/he is just following policy. I don't buy it.
I think accusing me of trying to mislead readers is unfair. That's the last thing I would want to do since I accused Whitney of it. As mentioned in at least one comment to this article already I put the link to the original article in the first line of the article (before the article even starts really). I never mentioned anything about policy in any of my posts on MY posting of the article. I'm not sure where that came from. Notice that the link to my rebuttal on the US feature and UC IMC is a tiny little thing, that someone had to point out to me, because I didn't see it. If you want to talk about honest or well-intentioned Whitney should ask her friends at UC and US/NYC to reload the dice for my response on their sites if fairness is what Whitney really wants. In terms of policy, that OTHERS might enforce, we don't actually feature anything that's not local original content. Our feature column, which has new articles appearing almost every day, has almost exclusively local original content which serves our community. This is something that Whitney seems to be advocating for, yet when we have a clear policy to do it, she doesn't buy why we would want to enforce it. It seems that non-local reposts from corporate media (Alternet) have generally only gotten a link in a feature in the past.

I'm just going to say a summary of things about the hate posts (and Portland specifically). I am a Jew. I will not stand for nazi or facists hate posts on Portland or any other indymedia site. I know the people who enable the Portland site very well. I know that not one of them would let a newswire post like that stay up, if they caught it. Whitney simply has not done the research about the current state of things at Portland. The person from whom she has gotten an e-mail most likely has not been directly involved in the collective effort for some time. I can't verify this, but I am pretty sure. If I'm not right, I'm sure I'll get the next e-mail. Portland indymedia gets hundreds of posts a week. However, what is different from a lot of sites is that a great percentage of these posts are legitimate, local and/or original content or decent reposts. I do a little site work from time to time and I can verify this. Whitney and others can believe it or not, but at our meetings we when we talk about post moderation, we are talking about things in the context of the sheer effort to read or even skim everything. We get better and better at catching these hate posts. One of the things coming out of the indymedia projects, from a technical side, is the evolution of filtering hate posts and things like them. Whitney makes it sound like Portland, or anyone who enables the site, somehow agrees with the content of the hate posts (7 out of 10,000) and deliberately leaves them up. That's misleading and callous and just not true. It may have been true when she was in Portland, but not now. Whitney is talking about the people I know well and she is wrong. That's it. Just wrong. Let me just catch the person whom I know who agrees with these hate postings.

Whitney says:

Salaud also says that "She characterized her points as being about grammar, hate posts, and access for underserved communities. These may not have been her true points or motivations, but it's what she said." I don't know what it would mean to "characterize" my points, and I certainly didn't "say" that those were my points. I wrote an article, which was about, among other things, effective communication and some things that detract from it. It was not an article about hate posts or bad grammar.

To characterize one's points means that one opens a paragraph, says explicitly this is the next point one would like to talk about, or otherwise signals this is a point that one is trying to make. It's hard to assume one is not trying to make a point about hate posts and grammar when one spends about 6 paragraphs on them combined. It's just my opinion about effective communication, without being a personal attack against Whitney, that to write an article about "effective communication and some things that detract from it" and not an article "about hate posts or bad grammar", it would be best to leave the parts about hate posts and bad grammar out so that people can concentrate on your central point, and especially leave those parts about hate posts and grammar out if they amount to unnecessary misleading personal attacks that will just serve to further make readers miss your central point. I would say that grinding a personal axe and/or singling out people you are supposedly trying to work with or constructively critique in a public forum detracts from effective communication. This statement certainly has to be true. Grinding axes and singling out may be good "journalism", but it doesn't encourage trust or understanding. In the indymedia world, which should be free from hierarchies or other such, trust and understanding is all we have.

Whitney says:

And while we're on the subject of communication: Reading IS communication, Salaud - communication between writers and readers. It's communication that is mediated by time, and distance, and paper, and sometimes things like editors, publishing houses, money, distributors, book stores, infoshops, etc. Most communication is mediated in some way or other, (and let's please not pretend that participating in an IMC discussion is somehow less mediated than reading when you've also got the electric companies, the folks who made your browser, and your computer, the telecom that provides your connection, bla bla bla)
But, reading is only ONE HALF of written communication. Whitney - a fair and just communication, without power and access mitigating, must be between writers and readers in the same locus (place), thus with equal power to share their points. If you are standing on a stage with a microphone in a stadium and I am standing outside the stadium on the street with just my voice, you may have told and I may have responded, but this is not fair. We must both use the same or similar microphone in the same or similar place so that the same people can hear us. This is what I think Whitney is missing. If LiP magazine broadcasts someone's writing, that is the writing part, it get's distributed through the internet and in bookstores and cafes and has money behind it to make it pretty. This is the microphone on the stage in the stadium. What are the readers then supposed to do have equal voice to speak back to the writer and to the other readers? This is the person outside the stadium on the street with only their voice. We want to get as close to an unmediated media as we can get. Clearly, if LiP magazine would publish in their entirety any and all responses to an article that were written by readers, then it would be ok to talk about the communciation being between writers and readers, without worrying about access and voice.

Indymedia, has the challenge of rising to that level of unmediated communication, for those that participate. Not only is this a theory, but it is also true. Let's not pretend that indymedia doesn't do it. When Whitney's article was posted in whole (I assume) to UC IMC, anyone could read it and anyone could respond to it in whole, un-edited. You will not see all the comments and responses to Whitney's article in the next issue of LiP, in whole, un-edited. That is the obvious. Things aren't equal between the different means and vehicles for doing media. Indymedia IS more unmediated communication between readers and writers. It is probably the best in the media domain, except for face to face communication where everyone shares the same microphone and has the same apparent volume. Print publication has always been a one-sided communication, make any small allowances for letters to the editor (geez) that you want. It still is.

Whitney says further:

I certainly didn't encourage passive consumption of my article, nor did Brian encourage passive consumption of LiP. We seek to engage our readers, or audience, or community, or whatever you'd like to call it. We set out to communicate, and, thankfully, lots of people are joining in and communicating with us.

I'm not saying that Whitney wants passive consumption of her article, but using a money making print medium (LiP) definitely DOES encourage passive consumption of the article. I'm not saying that the article WAS passively consumed. It wasn't. Luckily, we have indymedia as vehicle from which to respond. Without it, where would we go to respond on anything like equal footing? If Whitney or Brian did not want to encourage passive consumption they could do many things, but primarily, A) Use indymedia or something like it as the vehicle so that people could respond on the same terms as the writers wrote or B) Print any and all responses, in their entirety, in a following issue of LiP. One's readers, audience, community (I hate those words because they are so passive) must be enagaged on equal footing. It is not fair to engage them where you have more voice. You all set out to communicate, but unfortunately, we cannot join in and communicate with you on equal footing. We do not have the money to print and distribute our own issue of LiP with our critiques and approvals. Our critiques, approvals, and contributions will fall silent upon most of the ears of the LiPs readership.

Why is this point, which seems so obvious, so hidden? I think it must be because we have accepted this status quo for so long we never question it anymore. Like our represtentational government system, we have grown to accept the mediation and difference in voice and say perhaps even that it cannot be changed. There are alternatives like indymedia, let's use them as our primary vechicle. Would one be slumming to publish one's article on indymedia exclusively and not to get that advantage in voice that is afforded by an, at least, nationally distributed publication? We must act in they we want to see the world work.

Whitney says:

I recognize the potential of open publishing, and I believe in the power of storytelling - otherwise I wouldn't have spent three years of my life co-editing a book comprising 55 stories from 26 countries?stories that were written, with few exceptions, by unknown writers. I also know that, as Thoughts suggested in hir recent post, not everyone has the luxury of spending lots of time reading through mountains of posts to the newswire. Open publishing is neat, and it has a lot of faults. But I never suggested that a solution to those faults is that all Indymedias should have editors correcting and fact-checking all posts, nor that everyone who posts should be sure they write in AP style. I sure don't.

I truly believe that Whitney does believe in the power of storytelling and is trying to help in some way. Whitney's response seems to me to try to fend off personal attacks on her. I don't come to attack her. I am sure she has and does much good. I just disagree with the solutions that she proposes to indymedia's very real problems. Not everyone has the luxury of spending lots of time reading through posts to the newswire. The fact that there are lots of posts to the newswire of local original content (at least in Portland) is NOT one if it's faults. That's backwards speak. The fact that so many people are now writing and that it is hard to keep up with them is its greatest STRENGTH. Is that easy to be seen? The solution to the problem of not being able to read so much writing is NOT to limit that writing to a few "good" sources, especially not print media. That's exactly what we are fighting against. The tyranny of a few sources of information bringing the population at large to its knees and keeping it there. We are, as a culture, starving for information in a sea of it. It's the fault of our oppulence. When we quench the thirst to finally write something, we gorge. That is our america, perhaps with global media companies and traditional american "journalism" exported, that is our world.

The way we solve the problem of sorting out what an individual wants to read from the mountain of writings is by rising to the challenge and getting better at providing new tools that allow an individual to make those choices. For instance, at Portland we are working on a, yet unreleased, version of the newswire that will allow a user to quickly separate local from non-local and reposts from original. Users can already just look at posts on topics that interest them. These are not necessarily novel solutions on the web in general, but we are doing it for a different purpose, in a different way. Also, let's, in the broader indymedia context, stop talking about the audience, some passive mass that supposedly has some collective will, and let's focus on empowering the individual who comes to the site and writes or reads something.

Whitney says:

I don't know too many people who use any Indymedia site regularly. I lived in Portland for three years, and didn't know many folks there who use their local site either. Over the years, in my work and in my travels, I started asking people why. Their answers became the foundation for my article?an article that is, of course, just one person's opinion (people keep slamming it on that basis, as though their own posts were somehow more than that),...

It is so ironic that you are speaking about Portland here. To us it seems misleading and insulting. But, giving the benefit of the doubt, it could just be that Whitney hasn't checked the current facts about Portland. Portland is actually, today and not when Whitney lived here apparently (even given the selectivity bias and anecdotal nature of her interviews during that time), a site used very much regularly by the community. A community that I can't personally thank enough for having the courage and foresight to turn it into what it is now. Portland indymedia is only its posters, the same way you can't have a school without students (I'm not trying to imply any power relationship here). No writers, no readers. You can have writers without readers, but can't have readers without writers. Writing is primary.

I think the only thing, as I said before, that separates Whitney's opinion from others' opinions is that hers was broadcast widely in a money making print publication as well as Alternet, and indymedia. As a symptom of our media sickness, when something gets published in that way, it lends it not only more voice, but it also tends to attach to it more authority. This is because a common reader feels that someone(s) have put their money into putting it on a printing press and distributing it and because an Editor, who commonly is thought to have some authority in choosing the good from the bad, the important from the trival, and the factual from the opinion, has chosen it. So, yes, I agree that the article is just Whitney's opinion, as much as my articles are just my opinion. But, all things are not equal then. Her opinion is couched in the mystique of "journalistic" authority and perhaps considered pure analysis for a great deal of its readers, while my opinion, I believe, is more informed (or if not, more appropriate) for indymedia and characterized (at least by herr Editor) as been purely opinion and not analysis to a great deal of its readers.

Whitney says further:

More on personal opinions: In Salaud's response called "Picky," I found it interesting that s/he sets up a dichotomy of "Her assumption" vs. "Correct assumption." I'd like to know why and how Salaud's personal opinion gets transmogrified into being the "correct" one.

My opinion didn't get transmogrified (I like that word) into being the correct one. I feel and still feel it IS the correct one. I cannot apologize or back pedal on that. I feel passionately and sincerely that my solutions are best. I think there is right from wrong. I'm not saying that those who disagree are bad people or that we shouldn't work together, or that our opinions can't co-exist, they obviously do, but neither do I think they are proposing the right solutions. But, I'm sure open to some well thought out reasons, new visions, of why indymedia should apply "journalism"'s status quo models to our work. But, not just a restatement of why they work in other contexts and assumption without real analysis of why they would work for indymedia. We want true unmediated passionate information. And, by hook or by crook we will. But, can we concencrate on hook?

Whitney says:

Another example of Salaud putting words in my mouth: "Whitney is the one saying that to be exemplary means you must be like UC, NYC, North Texas IMC, not me." I said nothing of the sort. .... Exemplary, to me, means different things for different communities. I did not and do not advocate a cookie-cutter model of media making, and resent having my words twisted so.

Whitney put these in her Exemplary IMCs section at the bottom of her article, to which I was refering. Was I dreaming? I've got to stop staring at this computer. My eyes must be going bad. Perhaps Whitney might argue, "it depends on what you mean by 'say'." I'm sorry to get personal here. I want to avoid that in this article. But, accusing me of twisting (and I don't mean the dance) is a personal attack. I don't turn the other cheek very well, if you haven't noticed.

I won't say much about the cities list other than to re-iterate things I said in a comment here. I think the cities list is a side point. But, it takes the form of a singled out critique against Portland in Whitney's article. I think the cities list can take some getting used to and there's lots of room for improvement. It is just a starting point. But, I think it is like learning another language or learning the metric system (for 'yanks). It's good medicine. It moves away from our isolationist and imperialist ways of thought. Just the practice of trying to figure out where "things are now" leads in that direction.

I will say that mostly the REAL reason the people who don't like the cities list at Portland don't like it is because Portland dares to do something different and be autonomous and brave in that action. No one, even dissenters, really like difference, dissent, and autonomy. It's something to get used to for sure.

Whitney says:

Salaud also says that by being "picky" s/he is actually flattering or being respectful of me. I must say I didn't feel flattered or respected in the least when s/he (though with this, I suspect maybe he) referred to me, demeaningly, as "miss Whitney." Would s/he be so quick to belittle me if I wrote with a male or gender-neutral name?

I think it was not flattering to use "miss" there instead of "Ms.". I apologize. But, don't throw that hand waving gender bias at me. That's not fair. I took Whitney's article as real, serious, and dangerous. I responded to it, what I consider respectfully and flatteringly, point by point. When someone takes the time, sacrifice, and careful thought to respond to me in any type of communication, I consider that flattering. Believe me, and you can laugh, but I've spent a lot of time responding here, which I do not feel has been wasted, to Whitney, Awehali, and to my indymedia comrades. Whitney's gender has nothing to do with how I respond. That accusation is certainly not flattering and is divisive. In fact, because of my politics about gender identity I try to avoid gender pronouns altogether. Of course, I don't always do that, no one is perfect. I appreciate a "Hir" and a "Ze" every now and again. But, I frankly prefer that you just call me a Salaud. Which I am sure you want to by now.

I want to conclude by saying very clearly that as to the people involved in this discussion, Whitney, Awehali, and all the other posters, I value them and respect them. I value and respect all people trying to get a different voice, a socially just voice, to be heard through print, web, radio, and video that take money. I don't consider that indymedia, but I do consider them allies. I value and respect all the people doing indymedia work in UC and NYC. I consider them comrades. We have much more alike than different. In fact, there's only one person involved around NYC IMC that I can't call a brother or a sister, because he won't let me. There will always be those.

I still disagree about the solutions to indymedia's problems and feel that the best directions for us are the one's that I have discussed. I hope that my other indymedia comrades in the network will agree with me, of course. I may only post a time or two more, if there's some sort of personal attack or a really good NEW point raised. But, I look forward to another round of these discussions perhaps online, but perhaps even better face to face over some beers at the next indymedia conference.

-END-

ps. Ok, so this wasn't that short. I owe you all a beer or vegan nachos for reading all the way through. Youth Unite!


re: thoughts 03.Aug.2005 15:05

PDX Dragon

"The idea of "putting journalists out of business" just a has a conservative sound to it since lowering the price of news stories doesnt mean putting the companys that sell newspapers out of business (just look at all those weeklys with unpaid and low paid news stories) it just means making it so only independently wealthy people and people with the freedom to have flexible jobs can be reporters."


Excuse me, but you are still missing the point. You can have a full time regular job, and have time to write about your labor contract, write about how your boss is trying to stop union organizing, and so on. You are not trying to be a journalist, you are writing about your life and the issues important to you.

The point is not to make the journalist unpaid. The point is to break free of the idea that the journalist is needed to tell your own story. If lots of people write about what is going on in their workplace and neighborhood, there will just be less work for the journalist. The intent is not to put someone out of work, but that may well be the result. And obviously, the purpose is no more to harm some worker, than it is when people want to shut down a nuclear weapons plant.

This is a different approach. Indymedia here is not about a group of journalists doing unpaid work. It is about empowering people to tell their story (not to themselves necessarily be the journalist who tells others stories). The majority of the original writing on the pdx imc site is NOT from people who come to meetings, maintain the site and so on.

Counting articles by neo-fascists, including LaRouche 04.Aug.2005 09:31

Another friend of Jennifer Whitney

Yes, I know this comment appears twice on this site. This is a direct response to some of the criticisms of Whitney above.

I have been asked by my friend Jennifer Whitney to write about Lyndon LaRouche and his followers. Evidently there is some confusion among readers of this website exactly what he and his organization are.
Two arguments are appearing. First, that he is not so bad. Second, that he and his people have not really been much of a presence on Indymedia.
About the first argument, which I will characterize as 'hey, why can't we run articles about and by LaRouche? He hates Bush. The government threw him in prison. He's against the war. What's the big deal? How's he that much different from Nader or some of the 9/11 people?'
Yeah, and Mussolini got the trains to run on time. Using 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' argument gets you into a lot of trouble.
I pick Mussolini to compare to LaRouche because probably most of you are not familiar with him. Yet the widespread use of the word 'fascist' stems from him and his thugs, not from Hitler, who almost every literate person is familiar with.
Mussolini, like LaRouche, was originally a revolutionary socialist. Because of that, when he revived notions of a new Roman empire, his former comrades, anarchist and communist both, were unprepared for the physical attacks and political warfare that ultimately destroyed them and put the fascists in power in Italy. Mussolini and the fascists ruled, in collusion with the rising capitalist class, for twenty years. It took a combination of a people's uprising and the military might of the Allied armies to demolish them.
The standard book to read about LaRouche and his group is Dennis King's Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism. This is available at Powell's in Portland, the Multnomah County Library or via Amazon Books. Those of us who have dealt with the LaRouchites first hand acknowledge that King has done his work. His argument is simply that LaRouche is a neo-fascist, that he and his followers have many aspects of a cult and that they are dangerous. Dangerous to democratic groups. Dangerous in the sense of duping little old ladies out of their life savings, colluding with the KKK and the CIA, and showing a level of political sophistication that makes places like Indymedia a playground for them.
Are they racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic and looney-tunes as well? Sure, but don't take my word for it. Read accounts from former members in King's book (or at the Political Research Associates website, for those of you who don't leave your terminal).
Are they dangerous and politically savvy? Heck, they almost destroyed the Democratic Party in Illinois in the 1980's. That is well-documented in a number of sources.
Okay, if there are people out there who want to argue about LaRouche being a neo-fascist, let them come forth. But don't debate me. Refute the leading researchers on the Right in the United States, who uniformly regard LaRouche as a neo-fascist.
And no, I am not telling you not to go to their website or read his writings. I think that those of us who are in the streets and organizing, whether it is against the G8, or at the Born in Flames conferences, or shutting down timber sales, should read neo-fascist documents like Mein Kampf. Or the rants of Tom Metzger and WAR, to pick a neo-fascist who is more familiar to Portland readers (if you're not familiar with Tom Metzger, then you need to read Elinor Langer's book One Hundred Little Hitlers. How can you live in Portland and not know about this?).
In order to defeat these chumps, you have to know what they are thinking.
But really, do you want their writings posted on Indymedia as contributions?
If you make that choice, then understand that many people just won't use this website.
Unfortunately, you've already made that choice.
Some of the attacks on Jennifer have argued that there's really only been a few pieces about or by LaRouche, so what's the big deal? The big deal is the Portland editorial collective's collective ignorance. Type in "EIR" on your own search engine. You will see that a whole slew of articles have appeared on this website that are issued by EIR. That is the LaRouche intelligence gathering network ("Executive Intelligence Review"). These are the folks who think they are going to lead the anti-Bush opposition in the U.S. and who also think they are going to take over the world. Seriously.
And if you don't think they're targeting you in Portland, read this, from one of EIR's June issues:

And so, as Aaron was saying about getting these meetings with Senators' offices and Representatives' offices, this is actually what we've seen as well, with the Democratic Party in Seattle, and other work we've done in Portland and in Oregon. Now that they are more familiar with us, there is this dialogue that's being conducted, and we're able to increase—as Aaron was saying—the profundity of the ideas that we're putting in. We're not necessarily always just trying to bang our heads against them on the issue of free trade, but we're able to start to develop something more of a real process. And we're seeing with the population as a whole, as well.

That was from the LaRouche Youth Movement (sic) organizer in Seattle.
I did not bother to type in "New Federalist" or "Schilling Institute" or the names of any of their numerous front groups. There could be dozens more of their articles on the Portland site. But it is fair to say, as Jennifer did, that neo-fascists are regularly using Portland Indymedia, when they can post more than fifteen articles without difficulty.
I did not bother to address here other issues, such as how to deal with neo-fascists on the local level, such as Volksfront, nor cartoon fascists such as the Tualatin Valley Skins (note, by the way, that Portland did not censor a piece by Jim Ramm of TVS in the last month).
Believe me, I think those are important. I don't say that as a disinterested, pacifist professor. I write as someone who helped physically and politically throw the neo-nazi scum out of Portland in the early 1990's. That mean we threw them out of Fugazi shows, drove them out of their jobs, tossed them out of apartment complexes and guarded people who they had attacked. It wasn't the cops and it definitely wasn't well-meaning liberals who removed them.
Again, refer to Langer's book if you want to know your own history. But this is no academic exercise for me. Nor Jennifer.
There is no doubt that neo-fascists will make inroads in the anti-globalization movement, environmental groups, the anti-war movement, the anti-Bush sentiment, the 9/11 groupings, and labor organizing. That is already the case, as has been pointed out by Sakai and Hammerquist in the U.S. and a number of European writers (the Europeans are generally more sophisticated about this stuff than we are. They've been dealing with it directly for seventy years.)
The debates and organizing to stop those efforts are necessary. But I don't think they will occur in this forum. If anything, Jennifer Whitney under-estimated the disdain that most organizers, activists and revolutionaries I know have for Portland Indymedia. Signal to noise ratio is a political reality as well as a physical one. Finding real contributions on this site is possible (when I read Salaud and Whitney's 'exchange', I also saw pieces by Paul Glavin and one on the G8 demonstrations that were excellent writing), but finding them among the nutters, neo-fascists, conspiracy theorists and self-congratulatory contributors is too much work for many of us. We've moved on.
So forgive me if I seem a little disinterested in some of the debates here, though I appreciate and agree with Jennifer's main arguments about Indymedia. And it could be that I am just disoriented, since Portland Indymedia insists that I am in the Southwest, whereas the rest of the world believes that I am physically in the Bay Area of northern California.

Will Jenny from the Corp donate any Alternet monies to IMC? 04.Aug.2005 13:12

Ralph

So Jenny from the Corp comes slumming to attack IMC in her widely circulated Alternet article. (Written for LiP but that was like 6 weeks ago that it hit the racks. But when Alternet wants to go after Indymedia, the corporate hacks sure can push an article all over, can't they?)
Question for Jenny from the Corp, how much money is your attack on Indymedia netting you via Alternet? And since you write, we're all so sure, out of "love," how much of that will you be forking over to IMC?
Jenny was a hack years ago, she's a hack now. Five years from now, she'll be writing something along the lines of "The Problems With Corp Media and How I and I Alone Can Steer Indymedia."
Alternet being the hacks (and money grubbers) they are will of course work overtime to sell that article as well.

Don't Count Your Facists Before They Hatch 05.Aug.2005 11:56

salaud

I really appreciated "another friend of Jennifer Whitney"'s (hereafter 'another friend') post about LaRouche, I found a lot of good information about that character and his various tentacles. I am assuming the information is mostly correct. What you are seeing played out on Portland Indymedia, and other sites, is the awesome functioning of indymedia to be a place where an actual dialogue and more importantly a more complete article on something can be synthesized from many articles and comments. That powerful, truly two way, and fair process of media happens here and not in print media. Yeah!

I really didn't notice any count of postings in 'another friend's article, but it sounds like LaRouche, et al, are some nasty characters. What is that number of posts? I think one of 'another friend's best points was the 'enemy of my enemy is my friend' point. That really is a pitfall. "Another friend" seems to have a finger on the pulse of the LaRouche crew and is watching that closely. We need people to do that. I think that is awesome, but subscribes to the "keep your friend's close, but your enemies closer" saying. Portland Indymedia is your friend, come closer. Here's a big hug for posting.

Rather, than just attacking Portland Indymedia's posters and its enablers on the grounds of ignorance and/or collusion, and placing the work squarely on the shoulders of the enablers, I think a better strategy for someone like "Another friend" who is very knowledgeable on this important topic, would be for those people to post articles here at Portland in response to the articles they have a problem with or to post articles separately that really do a good job bringing LaRouche to light. I trust PDX IMC enablers to make the right decisions about posts. "Another friend" and, of course, Whitney probably do not understand that Portland does not use the same editorial structure that alot of IMCs do, that are more constantly groupthink, we trust individuals to make decisions, and consensus kicks in when there is disagreement. There is no mass of enablers to attack anyway. Nor, do they really, after lots of comments about it, seem to understand the sheer number posts that need to be dealt with.

The model that indymedia is trying to create is not like "journalism". We don't want to place all the work and power of writing and editing on some of group of people at the source of something. We want everyone to participate. Pointing fingers at PDX IMC's enablers and not posting informative articles is not the solution. Expecting site enablers to know everything and do everything and/or even wanting them to is counter-productive and not empoweriing, even to one's self. Why give that power over to them? Perhaps, set the tone by posting informative responses rather than hoping for the deathly silence that only censorship brings?

I'm not sure that censorship of LaRouche (or other) posts that, for their own apparent reasons of deception, do not contain any explicit hate speech is necessarily a good idea. Our strategy should not be hide those, but rather to get writers like "Another friend" to bring to light that which is dark. If the post contains explicit hate speech, hide it. I think just hearing hate speech has a chilling effect on people. I think the deceptive tactics of trying to make in-roads is, however more chilling ultimately. But, it is instructive to see those posts and then counter them. That's just me. I trust others to do otherwise.

There is always a careful balance between hiding from ourselves what which we don't want to see because it is poison (like corporate media and seemingly LaRouche) and reading it for its instructiveness and to know how to counter it. "Another friend" apparentl reads alot of the LaRouche material to keep informed and know how to call bullshit on it. Why shouldn't portland indymedia readers have that same right and advantage? Both of reading those articles and having "Another friend" call bullshit. Of course they should, and I hope they do. But, I would hate to have the LaRouche articles without the bullshit calling. If the indymedia posting community won't do their job by fighting against the LaRouche articles, it might be better to just hide them. It is also important to note that we can no more expect the writing community to catch and respond to every LaRouchite post, then they could expect the site enablers to catch those same posts if there is a truly a great volume.

Another friend said: The debates and organizing to stop those efforts (LaRouche and others facism) are necessary. But I don't think they will occur in this forum. If anything, Jennifer Whitney under-estimated the disdain that most organizers, activists and revolutionaries I know have for Portland Indymedia. Number one: The debates and dialogue are obviously happening here. What is this? The organizing to stop those efforts also happen here. One of the main methods of getting the word out to organize the successful action against the TVS was Portland Indymedia, and everyone knows that. Not everyone knows that one of the main organizers against the TVS in that instance also happened to be a Portland Indymedia site enabler. Hopefully that person chimes in.

Number two: I think that "Another friend" is, of course, way OVER-estimating any disdain people may feel towards Portland Indymedia, especially, revolutionaries. This statement is mean, false, boring, divisive, and destructive. Anyway, Portland IMC is mostly disdained by liberals and the right. Funny that.

Further, perhaps the emphasis should have been put on, "...revolutionaries I KNOW." One can't imagine the disdain for corporate media and its methods that people whom I KNOW have. However, I know of at least one closet admirer of our bad (but not worst) local weekly. Perhaps, "Another friend" has a another friend who reads Portland, but is afraid to admit it. Funny that.

Another friend says:

Finding real contributions on this site is possible (when I read Salaud and Whitney's 'exchange', I also saw pieces by Paul Glavin and one on the G8 demonstrations that were excellent writing), but finding them among the nutters, neo-fascists, conspiracy theorists and self-congratulatory contributors is too much work for many of us. We've moved on.

I hope that people like "Another friend" who seem to have lots of information and have "moved on" come back. I hope they understand that the point, responsibility and power of indymedia is writing and fighting and not reading and feeding. Pushing the responsibility of educating others about and countering types like LaRouche on indymedias onto an enabling collective and not doing the much harder work of writing the "real" contributions that are necessary, misses the point of indymedia, abdicates that social responsibility, and does not harness indymedia's power.

Bottom Line: Stop Roasting and Start Posting!