Indymedia Failed???

by DeeDee Halleck, Hand Held Visions

It has been common in certain circles to call indymedia a "failed" experiment. Sort of like the way people talk about the Paris Commune or Bolshevik Communism. Or Christian love.
See "Death of a Citizen Reporter" at http://bracken.wordpress.com
After reading that discussion, I responded this way:

Curious to call indymedia “ultimately…failed”. Failed whom? Perhaps that failure is a function of the status of your local chapter. Sure, many of the indymedia chapters lapse into stasis when there are no "protests" or stuggles in crisis. Chicago? Dunno. But watch for Chicago to rev up around May Day!

But for literally hundreds of thousands of people world wide, local IMCs don't just cover "protests", but the indymedia sites are crucial sources of on-going information–an alternative to corporate and state propaganda.
Photo from an Indymedia exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum July-October, 2000.

I was in South Africa for three months at the beginning of the year and in that country indymedia has meant a way that widespread communities can communicate: Cape Town, J’burg and Durban movements have used indymedia to create a national presence for shack-dweller rights, anti-privatization of water and electricity and campaigns against police brutality. In Latin America, Uruguay, Ecuador, Argentina etc, indymedia has tens of thousands of readers every day. I listen to APPO, the Oaxaca radio station every night. (www.chiapas.indymedia.org) Many radio stations throughout the world have rebroadcast this stream.

In all the hype about “you tube” and “my space” there is little acknowledgement of the pioneering work of indymedia in video and audio posting. I guess this is only important when it promotes “My” and “you” and not “our”. In terms of "be the media", Indymedia got there first and continues to be a widely used global network, emphatically non-commercial.

Since there are so many decentralized servers maintaining the nodes, it is difficult to actually assess the traffic, but I would guess that if one were able to count the actual users, the indymedia global network would rival or surpass the trendy commercial "post yourself" networks. Certainly it is more diverse both ethnically and in terms of class. Indymedia does not limit itself to the individual computer. There is no other network that is so often “republished” in local papers and flyers and “restreamed” on local radio stations. The active indymedia groups are hubs that bring together people not only via the internet, but in real time, real space, creating not only virtual communities but warm bodies working together in a world that has become so terribly dehumanized and alienating.

One of my favorite areas is the way that indymedia graphics have been printed and made into instant photo and graphic exhibits. This one [see original article for photos] is from the Argentine crisis, during which graphics posted by Argentina Arde were printed out at a local university and used for a clothesline exhibit in a city far from Buenos Aires.

For a comprehensive look at how indymedia functions in one country see http://ithefilm.com

article originally published at http://deedeehalleck.blogspot.com/2006/11/indymedia-failed.html.

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