WTO media flashback: Ralph Nader and Errol Maitland

RTM note: This article originally appeared in the Blind Spot, as part of the Independent Media Center's grassroots coverage of the Seattle WTO on Dec. 3, 1999. We are reprinting it in celebration of 10 years of Indymedia, and to note the prescience and continuing relevance of Nader's insights into the importance of an Internet free from domination by corporate interests, as well as Maitland's celebration of media that broadcast the words and ideas of immigrants and other marginalized voices.

This week, Ralph Nader of Public Citizen and Errol Maitland of Democracy Now were interviewed at the Independent Media Center. Here are a few excerpted quotes for their interviews.

Nader on the Internet:
When radio came out everyone said 'aha... it will be forever in the public trust, it will never be commercialized'... then along came television … 'this is going to be an era of great enlightenment because now people can see what's really happening' … well, we all know what happened.

And the same with cable: 'Look we're going to be different. … We're not going to ignore the local community. … Students and workers can have their own channels.'

So now we have this medium.

...You can see a lot of things happening, but they're not going to happen by thinking that the technology itself will have its own imperative toward democracy. It won't. Again and again … the technology offered the options to open up the system, have a democratic communication process and they were closed down by concentrated corporate power and its influence over our government...

(Citizen groups) have got to see you as more than just an outlet for their press releases that the commercial media ignores. … They've got to see you as pioneering their democratic voice...

Maitland on media and the WTO:
We need to begin to tell our own story and tell it in our own way and to amass the power of the media. …

Let the voice of the people be heard. If it's in a different language, get a translator. If they stutter and stammer, let them speak. If they have a foreign accent and they talk “funny,” let them speak. …

I did not come here pissed and angry, but I've tasted pepper in the streets of Seattle and I'm pissed and angry now. I say shut it down. Shut it down. Shut it down.

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