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Two aspects of media coverage of the telecom debate I've never understood.
Why is it that media reporting on these crucial issues usually waits until the issue is settled? Why can't we get even a brief overview of five different industry positions and how the industry wish list might affect consumers?Read more.
Mark your calendars! Reclaim the Media presents a public conversation on imperial power and the prospects for democracy in a globalized and interconnected world; featuring two of today’s most articulate critics of American empire: David Barsamian (Alternative Radio) and David Korten (When Corporations Rule The World). Both have new books out, and the event will be the world premiere of Korten's new work, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community. The conversation takes place at the University Unitarian Church (Wedgewood) at 7pm; proceeds benefit Reclaim the Media and NW Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community.Read more.
5/03 UPDATE: The City Council approves an amended franchise. 4/18 UPDATE: City Council considers changes to Comcast deal. The Seattle City Council's March 30 hearing on the Comcast cable franchise lasted nearly three hours, as scores of local residents stepped up to weigh in on the city's proposed new 10-year deal with the cable provider. A substantial majority of those who spoke at the hearing were there to advocate for funding for extending arts and cultural programming on local public, educational and government (PEG) channels.
Many comments supported the "Arts Zone" side agreement which would give the city-run Seattle Channel millions in new funding for arts production. Many more spoke in favor of increased support for community TV channel SCAN. Other speakers at the hearing complained about Comcast's lousy customer service and asked for enforceable labor standards for service providers like Comcast. Few had anything positive to say about the actual terms of the new proposed franchise.
[ RTM's April 6 update | RTM's latest requests to City Council | summer 05 requests | Mayor Nickels' response to RTM ]
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[ Grassroots Cable | SF Media Advocates ]
[ Recent headlines on Comcast | on cable ]
UPDATE: photos. Reclaim the Media traveled to Caracas in January to participate in the sixth World Social Forum, as part of a North American communications rights delegation. This year, the social forum--a supergathering of civil society organizations from around the world--takes place also in Bamako (Mali) and Karachi (Pakistan). Among the thousands of workshops and events scheduled in Caracas, many focused on the theme "Communication, culture and education: alternative and democratising dynamics," and issues of cultural diversity and cultural sovereignty. Our delegation also took stock of the explosion of grassroots and counter-hegemonic media which has been one effect of the ongoing social-political revolution in Venezuela.
Media Literacy educators at the University of Washington hosted a two-day conference focusing on media literacy education, policy change, and media implications for teen health. Images of Youth: New Directions in Media Literacy and Teen Health took place March 20-21 in Seattle. Featured speakers include nationally-renowned media scholar Jean Kilbourne, and Lee Burton, one of Australia's leading media literacy educators. Conference brochure here.Read more.
Independent journalist Lila Rajiva will read from her new book, The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American Media, at Seattle's Elliott Bay Books on Friday, Dec. 16. The book is a model of in-depth, citizen media analysis, not only skewering craven propagandists like Hannity and Limbaugh, but also revealing the shameful and often racist double standards which have undergirded the main stream of Iraq war coverage in the US. Rajiva's book also offers an unflinching and clear-worded analysis of the role of torture and terror in contemporary American foreign policy. Event details here.Read more.
Going to war is a serious business. In a totalitarian society, the dictator just says we're going to war and everybody marches. In a democratic society, the theory is that if the political leadership is committed to war, they present reasons, and they've got a very heavy burden of proof to meet because a war is a very catastrophic affair... The role of the media at that point is to present the relevant background, and to offer, in fact encourage, a forum of debate over this very dread decision to go to war... That never happened." [Noam Chomsky, reflecting on the first Gulf War in Manufacturing Consent]
As the Bush administration prepared for war in 2002 and 2003, the US establishment media largely abdicated their roles of challenging the government's PR frames and specious arguments. Instead, they willingly helped persuade the public of one lie after another: that war with Iraq was justified, necessary and legal, would be quick, and would bring democracy to the Middle East. A peace movement of unprecedented, international scale was effectively locked out of meaningful debate, and as it has before, the US went to war very much in the manner of a totalitarian state. Tens of thousands of Iraqis and Americans have so far lost their lives as a result - and the occupations, killings and "extraordinary renditions" continue. People of conscience must continue to resist Bush and his administration of death, and we must find new ways to hold our media accountable to democratic values.Read more.
Reclaim the Media's series of community forums continues on Tuesday, October 25, with a Seattle conversation on race, class and gender issues in our media. The disastrous aftermath of hurricane Katrina raised many questions about institutionalized race and class prejudice which continues to plague popular media (see below). Whose voices are sought or trusted in today's news? Whose voices are excluded? How do familiar narratives impose themselves on news coverage? How do good or bad media habits affect our shared understanding of ourselves and our history? Join us at 7pm Oct. 25 in the Richard Hugo House cafe. Featured guests will include working journalists from commercial and independent media, as well as community activists
concerned with issues of media diversity, representation, access and communications rights. This event is free.
The double disaster of hurricane Katrina and the federal government's shamefully inadequate response initially seemed to have shaken awake much of the national establishment media. Many normally docile reporters and pundits used columns and live airtime to vociferously challenge the government's right to lie - showing the kind of journalistic backbone which has been so lacking in most coverage of the Bush administration and its 'war on terror.' But this media epiphany was short-lived, as the Bush administration brought its spin and censorship operations up to speed - and corporate media managers reestablished control over frontline commentators.
More significantly, nearly all major news coverage has failed to address racism and economic oppression as factors in the ongoing disaster. In many cases, media coverage has adopted and perpetuated racist stereotypes, and avoided challenging or even recognizing prejudice in the actions and statements of government managers, media commentators, and members of the public. ThinkProgress reported that during the first week of coverage, only 22 out of 1300 stories on CNN, MSNBC and Fox focused on race or class.
In response, social justice groups, independent media, artists and media activists are renewing calls for media justice and an authentic public conversation about oppression institutionalized in media and our society. In Seattle, Reclaim the Media is contributing to this conversation by designating October 2005 as Media Justice month.Read more.
Major telecommunications policy reform is around the corner. Have you had a change to weigh in on proposed changes? On Friday Sept. 9, Congressman Jay Inslee will be in Seattle to convene a public forum on current telecommunications and technology policy issues. Panel topics include the upcoming transition to digital television, and broadband/IP-enabled services. Panelists will include representatives from local, state and federal government, civil society groups, and media/telecom corporations. The hearing takes place Friday afternoon, 1-4pm in Seattle Center's Shaw Room. Be there, and bring your opinions and questions!Read more.