Canadians prepare for Media Democracy Rejuvenation Day

by Steve Anderson, Vancouver Observer

Modeled after EarthDay, MDD is a decentralized event that occurs in several different cities.

In the past few years the media democracy movement in Canada has been rather subdued, quietly doing its work, educating the public on media issues, producing independent media, and questioning media policy.

In contrast with years past, this year’s Media Democracy Day (MDD) celebrates a media democracy movement bursting at the seams with energy and potential. This year, it might be more accurate to say that we are putting on Media Democracy Days, with events spread out over several days starting with Toronto's event on October 18.

What exactly is Media Democracy Day?

It’s an annual day of action occurring at the end of October based on three themes:
• Education focused on understanding how the media shapes our world and our democracy.
• Protest, against a media system based on commercialization and exclusiveness.
• Change, calling for media reforms that respond to public interests, promote diversity, and ensure community representation and accountability.
Modeled after EarthDay, MDD is a locally based and decentralized cluster event that occurs in several different cities. Canada’s MDD is anchored in Vancouver and Toronto, but many other cities have held MDD events as well.

One of the key elements of MDD is the Media Democracy Fair. A Media Democracy Fair (sometimes called an "Independent Media Fair") provides an opportunity for independent media outlets, media advocacy groups, community groups and media democracy activists to exchange information and display their work to the public.

This year well over 50 groups from across the country will participate in MDD.

The significance of Media Democracy Day, according to Bob Hackett, communication scholar at the Simon Fraser School of Communication, and author of Remaking Media, is that it “brings different communities together in a common stake even if they didn’t know they had one.”

This year marks the seventh consecutive year of Media Democracy Day, and the scene is set for it to be the biggest yet. Media Democracy Day events are taking place in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa and Windsor.

In Toronto, MDD will focus on “Burma in the Media,” and will include a documentary screening, a panel discussion and a Media Democracy Fair.

In Montreal, Amy Goodman, host and producer of the award-winning New York based independent news program Democracy Now!, will provide a keynote address before a weekend packed full of exciting panels.

In Vancouver, Media Democracy Day consists of a keynote address from renowned author Saskia Sassen, a Media Democracy Fair, a conversation with Robert McChesney, as well as a presentation by independent filmmaker Jill Friedberg.

Ottawa will host a film screening and a talk by Joanne St-Lewis, a renowned media activist and a professor of law at the University of Ottawa.

Considering that recent years have often seen rather low-key MDD events, this year marks a definite signal that media democracy is an issue that once again resonates with Canadians.Media Democracy Day may be a single day event, but it can also be a rallying cry and a platform for a broad constituency for media democracy in Canada. As we attend Media Democracy Day this year, we should celebrate the independent sources of information we have, and deepen our resolve to build a truly democratic media system in Canada.

For details on Media Democracy Day events in a city near you visit: http://mediademocracyday.org/
Steve Anderson is Co-ordinator of Canadians For Democratic Media (http://democraticmedia.ca/).

article originally published at .

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey