Features

Inside the Seattle Weekly's journalistic demise

Summary:

Progressive journalist Geov Parrish provides an inside look at how the Seattle Weekly's new owners have set about stamping out what was left of the paper's independence and journalistic worth. It's an unfortunate sign of the times; media consolidation continues to ravage alternative weeklies across the country.

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Will we have communications rights?

Summary:

A great struggle for our free press and our creative culture is happening right now. Our rights to communicate, to share political ideas without fear of censure, and to create and recreate our culture together, are the core of a free society. Those rights are spelled out in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the US, our constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of the press are meant to ensure that we all benefit from what the Supreme Court has described as "an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will prevail." In this reciprocal "market," our right to see and hear other people's free speech is as essential to our democracy as our right to speak for ourselves.

[ Sign on to the Bill of Media Rights, or read on for more on how to protect media democracy and our communications rights. ]

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From the blog

A grassroots radio organizing success: NW community radio summit wraps up

The Northwest Community Radio Summit ended on a high note on Sunday, Sept 17. Some 150 energetic, dedicated and creative community radio activists represented stations from Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Idaho and Oregon for a weekend of skill-sharing workshops, discussions of media policy activism, community media's role in supporting grassroots hip-hop and more. The weekend summit's main purpose was the organizing of a regional community radio network. Attendees did an incredible amout of work towards that goal--making plans to deepen organizing and outreach over the next year, and sketching out a web-based content sharing system, plans for collaborative public affairs production, and other shared projects. Stay tuned - Reclaim the Media will prepare a more detailed report on conference accomplishments in the days to come. Until then, enjoy these photos from the conference, or download keynote remarks by David and Amy Goodman and Lt. Ehren Watada (streaming mp3s). UPDATE: more audio here, plus local Independent media coverage of the hip-hop plenary and the keynote event, and the whole summit, plus the streaming slideshow (wmv) shown at Town Hall.

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What's wrong in Oaxaca? Don't ask the Seattle Times

Summary:

Independent filmmaker Jill Freidberg (Granito de Arena, This is What Democracy Looks Like) provides a forceful rebuttal to a recent Seattle Times story in which travel writer Jolayne Houtz paints a woefully uninformed and misleading picture of the current political unrest in Oaxaca. Freidberg has travelled back and forth between Seattle and Oaxaca many times in the past several years, documenting social change movements and the current uprising. In her critique, she teases out how a seemingly innocuous travelogue can gloss over complex political realities, as Houtz blithely dismisses the determined motivations of local folks who have had the audacity to step out of Oaxaca's beautiful scenery to demand justice.

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Proposed US-Korean trade deal threatens cultural sovereignty

Summary:

On September 6-9, Korean and US trade representatives will meet in Seattle for a third set of talks leading towards a proposed bilateral Free Trade Agreement. If approved, the new FTA will be the largest such agreement for the US since NAFTA. Like NAFTA, this agreement is backed by large corporations, and opposed by millions of workers and unions, small business owners, environmentalists and human rights advocates in both countries.

The Korea/US FTA also raises grave concerns in the areas of media policy and communications rights. The proposed deal would place severe limits on the Korean government's ability to protect its own media and cultural industries--dismissing media diversity protections such as film screen quotas as barriers to trade. In fact, the US has already required Korea to slash film quotas as a show of "good faith" before FTA negotiations even started.

Korean and US activists will rally and march against this bad trade deal on Sept. 6 through Sept. 9.

More info: Coalition for Cultural Diversity in Moving Images
Korean grassroots media: Labor News Production | People's Media Chamsaesang | MediAct

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Esperanza Center attacked as "anti-Semitic" for hosting Palestinian art show

Summary:

San Antonio's Esperanza Center for Peace and Justice is being accused of anti-Semitism by local conservatives and establishment media, following the opening of an exhibition of paintings by Palestinian artist Salwa Arnous entitled "They Uprooted the Palestinians, Now They're Uprootng the Olive Trees." The Esperanza Center, a vanguard nonprofit which employs arts and culture to promote political and social justice, is no stranger either to controversy or public attacks in San Antonio. In the late 1990s, an Esperanza-sponsored lesbian and gay film festival drew the ire of local media conservatives who launched an (ultimately unsuccessful) effort to cut off Esperanza's small public subsidy.

News articles on the current controversy are gathered here.

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From the blog

Photos from the PCUN Barnraising

The Low-power FM barnraising at PCUN in Woodburn, Oregon was a great success; Many inspiring people came together for a weekend of hard work and mutual aid, working together to build the Northwest's newest community-run radio station. Reclaim the Media has established a Flickr group to share photos from the weekend; check it out at flickr.com/groups/pcunbarnraising.

From the blog

LPFM Barnraising in Oregon, Aug. 18-20!

This August, our pals at the Prometheus Radio Project return to the Northwest for their second bilingual LPFM barnsaising in Woodburn, Oregon! In the spirit of neighbors pulling together to put up a new building, Reclaim the Media will join the Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN) and Prometheus to build a radio station from the ground up! Click here to register or here to find out more!

At the August 18-20 event, Prometheus' tenth radio station barnraising, a cast of dozens, maybe hundreds, of community radio aficianados will come together to help build KPCN-LP Woodburn, OR. Regional volunteers from Portland's KBOO, Indymedia and Reclaim the Media will be joined by national volunteers throughout the US and international volunteers from Central and South America, and will converge in the Willamette Valley of Oregon to make a long-standing dream of PCUN come true! Since the organization formed in 1985, to protect the rights of Woodburn's immigrant treeplanters and farmworkers, it's been in the organization's vision to own and operate its own radio station to be used as an organizing tool for the group's numerous issues and campaigns.

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Massive telecom bill continues uncertain progress through Senate

Summary:

UPDATE: Senator Stevens has been unable to assemble enough support for his bill to rush it through before the August recess. This in itself is a victory, and it gives Net Neutrality supporters more time to convince our Senators that without net neutrality language, this bill must be stopped. Stevens has introduced a new version of the bill, still leaving out meaningful net neutrality protections.

The Senate's version of massive new telecommunications legislation is headed to the full Senate, after a flurry of amendments and contentious debate in the Commerce Committee. The House passed its own bill on June 8. Media democracy advocates, media producers, technology companies and Internet libertarians opposed to the bill's passage then looked to the full Senate in hopes that the bill could be substantively improved or, if not, killed.

The proposed legislation has gathered such broad interest because of the potential severity of its effects on mediaand communications technology in the United State. Both House and Senate bills would change the very nature of the Internet, and seriously undermine public accountability over cable and video services, including educational and community TV. While claiming to clear the way for new innovations in broadband access, the bills would likely retard important avenues for Internet innovation and deployment. They would mean the end of the free, open Internet characterized by "net neutrality" or equality of access. The bills would also seriously harm community TV by taking away the authority of local governments to negotiate franchises with cable/video providers (House bill), or by forcing local governments to fast-track franchise requests (Senate bill). Finally, both bills would extend the digital divide by failing to ban "redlining" or discriminatory deployment of new broadband services.

While the Senate bill now includes good provisions (such as the expansion of Low-Power FM radio) as well as bad, the bill remains an overall stinker in its present form. An amendment adding Net Neutrality protections barely failed on an 11-11 committee vote, setting the stage for a Senate floor battle over the issue later this year. As Congressional GOP leadership has indicated their willingness to use procedural trickery to shape the bill to their liking no matter what the Senate votes for, media democracy advocates' message to the Senate is now kill this bill. If citizens continue to exert pressure on our Senators, we can win this battle!

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From the blog

The Communications Commons - Internet Access for All

Nolan Bowie at NFCB ConferenceReclaim the Media participated in the National Federation of Community Broadcasters annual conference in Portland, Oregon this past April, where we had the opportunity to hear Nolan Bowie, Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Nolan delivered a keynote address about the critical need for universal communication technology (universal broadband and/or wifi internet access) in a time of uncertainty and risk – whether the dangers be health-related (avian flu pandemic), security related (war/terror), national disasters (hurricanes/earthquakes) or economically-driven (peak oil/dollar collapse). The full audio recording of his talk is archived on the NFCB website.

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