Independent media feel the 'heat on the street' in Vancouver

Dave Zirin, National Public Radio

As Canadian officials react to increasing public opposition to cost overruns and local impacts of the Vancouver Olympics, the independent media seems to be paying the price. Just as Democracy Now's Amy Goodman was held in November for trying to cross the border for reasons that had nothing to do with the Olympic Games, Martin Macias, an independent media reporter from Chicago, was detained and held for seven hours by Canada Border Services agents before being put on a plane and sent to Seattle. Macias, who is 20 years old, is a media reform activist with community radio station Radio Arte where he serves as the host/producer of First Voice, a radio news zine. Macias described a chilling scene of detention and expulsion. "I was asked the same questions for three and a half hours in a small room. They told me I had no right to a lawyer. I went from frustrated and angry to scared. I didn't know what the laws were or how the laws had been changed for the Olympics...why the crackdown?"

Read more.

Artist sues photographer over images of public art in Seattle


Public art in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood is at the center of a legal copyright fight.

The Dance Steps on Broadway consists of eight different stations, each of which features its own dance step.

Mike Hipple took photos of those steps, and he's now being sued for the photos that earned him $60.

"A large majority of the images were out of focus," Hipple said. "And you can see some of the dance steps, I think, maybe there were a handful of them (photos)."

Read more.

Don't let Comcast and NBC merge into media conglomerate

Capital Times

Comcast's proposed merger with NBC would produce a media behemoth that would control a significant portion of available channels and content.

The owners of Comcast and NBC Universal, two of the most powerful communications conglomerates in the United States, want to merge their corporations in a broadcast and cable behemoth that would dominate the discourse in the United States.

If they get their wish which executives of the corporations expressed to key House and Senate subcommittees on Thursday an already narrow and frequently dysfunctional debate in America would become narrower and more dysfunctional.

Read more.

Pro-choice advocates criticize CBS for accepting anti-abortion Super Bowl ad

Democracy Now

As we reach Super Bowl weekend, the game’s broadcaster CBS is coming under criticism for accepting an anti-abortion ad (update: now two ads) paid for by Focus on the Family. For years, CBS and other networks have rejected advocacy ads during the Super Bowl. Democracy Now! gets reactions from Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood and sportswriter Dave Zirin, author of A People’s History of Sports in the United States.

Read more.

Obama "a big believer in net neutrality"

Tim Karr, Save the Internet

The power of the open Internet was on full display Monday as President Obama responded to questions from the public in a followup to last week's State of the Union address. Appropriately, one questioner asked about the president's support for the open Internet itself. Watch the President's answer in this clip.

Read more.

Why are some civil rights groups and leaders on the wrong side of net neutrality?

James Rucker, The Seminal/FireDogLake

It’s said that politics creates strange bedfellows. I was reminded how true this can be when I traveled to D.C. in recent weeks to figure out why several advocacy groups and legislators with histories of advocating for minority interests are lining up with big telecom companies in opposition to the FCC’s efforts to pass “Net Neutrality” rules.

Net Neutrality is the principle that prevents Internet Service Providers from controlling what kind of content or applications you can access online. It sounds wonky, but for Black and other communities, an open Internet offers a transformative opportunity to truly control our own voice and image, while reaching the largest number of people possible. This dynamic is one major reason why Barack Obama was elected president and why organizations like exist.

So I was troubled to learn that several Congressional Black Caucus members were among 72 Democrats to write the FCC last fall questioning the need for Net Neutrality rules. I was further troubled that a number of our nation’s leading civil rights groups had also taken positions questioning or against Net Neutrality, using arguments that were in step with those of the big phone and cable companies like AT&T and Comcast, which are determined to water down any new FCC rules.

Read more.

Why media and journalism scholars support network neutrality

Bill Herman, Save the Internet

Academic associations tend to be politically conservative.

I don't mean that they revere Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman, though plenty of scholars do. Rather, each group – representing a field's professors and graduate students – tends to evade controversy, rarely taking a public stance on an issue that might divide the membership.

Thus, it is remarkable that the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) has declared its support for Network Neutrality.

Read more.

Rep. Edwards urges peers to sign net neutrality petition

Broadband Breakfast

Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland sent a letter to her colleagues on Wednesday urging them to sign a petition supporting the principles of network neutrality.

“The rulemaking process is an unprecedented opportunity to protect and promote consumer choice, competition, and innovation on the Internet,” she wrote to her peers, adding that without the “open flow of information on the Internet much of the progress in the 20th and 21st centuries would never have taken place.”

Read more.

The People's historian: Howard Zinn dies at 87

Mark Feeney and Bryan Marquard, Boston Globe

Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and whose books, such as "A People's History of the United States," inspired young and old to rethink the way textbooks present the American experience, died today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling. He was 87.

His daughter, Myla Kabat-Zinn of Lexington, said he suffered a heart attack.

"He's made an amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture," Noam Chomsky, the left-wing activist and MIT professor, said tonight. "He's changed the conscience of America in a highly constructive way. I really can't think of anyone I can compare him to in this respect."

Read more.

Communications rights under attack in South Korea

Reclaim the Media

Communications rights and freedom of expression are under attack in South Korea, as Lee Myung-bak's New Right government takes disturbing steps to shut down independent media, and to defund media, arts, and cultural organizations across the country. The latest blow is an attack on the internationally-respected public media center MediAct, which has played a key part in the democratization of Korea's media system, trained thousands of people in media production, and developed many successful media policy proposals to open up Korea's mediascape to diverse voices. Recognized as an international leader in the communications rights movement, MediAct cofounder Myoung-Joon Kim (shown) is one of Reclaim the Media's Media Heroes.

Please take action now to express international support for MediAct. Join the Facebook group for updates, and click below to read more.

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