Archive for journalism

NCMR: Independent Media as an Organizing Tool

Adrienne Maree Brown, The Ruckus Society (moderator)
Shivaani Selvaraj, Philly IMC Media Mobilizing Project
Jenny Lee, Live Arts Media Project
Kat Aaron, co-Director of People’s Production House

listen to the mp3 of this discussion

(Adrienne was just telling me I don’t take credit for things. I hardly think that’s true – see every blog post where I crib other people’s ideas – but I’ll take her advice and admit I proposed this session. I was pleasantly surprised that it was accepted by Free Press. These are some of the most inspiring folks in the movement, along with all of the people they work with.)

—-

Adrienne Maree Brown, The Ruckus Society

This is media that changes the producer, the participant, and hopefully the receiver forever.

We’re going to talk about it, then we’re going to do some popular education workshops so you walk out of here knowing how to do this in your own community.

—-

Shivaani Selvaraj, Philly IMC Media Mobilizing Project

I love being an organizer. I have an agenda for building a social movement in this country. I have experience with different models of organizing:

Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Compaign inspired by MLK
Media Mobilizing Project of the Philly IMC
Media Empowerment Project, affiliated with the United Church of Christ

Today going to focus on MMP:

The media is less about informing the public, more about transformation. Fighting for a just media alongside fighting for a just society.

Working with taxi workers, hotel workers, anti casino, anti gentrification, and a collaboration with Head Start, which is poor-led. We help with political education, an analysis of power, a discussion of frameworks.

Nijmie Dzurinko, also with MMP:

sharing a story about the casino fight. We got involved because we live in a time when the state is doing whatever it can to enhance profit, making up shortfalls in their budgets from federal cuts.

Neighborhoods were having trouble because of the images being fed to them, the inability to get information about what kinds of profits

Focused on completing 4 or 5 minute-long pieces that engaged key issues, broke down casino-propaganda machine. Showing how different groups that had been divided along racial and economic lines were united in this issue. Worked with groups to complete the pieces, then distributed 500 DVDs around the community to get people involved.

——–

Jenny Lee, Live Arts Media Project

Ilana described phase 1 of LAMP in the previous session. I’m going to talk about phase 2.

LAMP grew out of Detroit Summer, which was started over 10 years ago by veterans of the Detroit Black power movement.

Addresses the school crisis in Detroit, in particular the dropout crisis, which is
evacuation from the auto industry has crippled the city
DPS closed 50 schools
95 more will close by 2008
Catholic schools all closed last year.
Those that remain are increasingly militarized. Dress code that lead to suspensions that lead to more dropouts.
DPS is now the number one employer in the city, which makes the union extremely powerful.

The goal of LAMP was to center young people’s voices in this debate.

We trained youth to do interviews with other youth, they interviewed other young people, as well as the principals.

We saw that the process by which we actually make the media is a method of organizing.

After the summer, they completed the CD, and started thinking about distribution. How to get it into schools and into community centers?

The production process had yielded a supportive network of educators.

The way we distribute it is also an organizing tool.

Wanted to apply creative methods to distribution, as with production. That process needed to centralize youth as well, so they turned to popular education to develop the popular education curriculum.

The teaching is also an organizing tool.

Played a clip about criminilization of youth in the schools. The montage of interviews went right into a hip hop song about it, “12 Steps to Oblivion.”

Jenny then asked the audience what stood out to them in the track and asked a few other questions to bring out the impact it had.

Taking the CD on tour.

http://www.detroitsummer.org

——

Kat Aaron, co-Director of People’s Production House

Kat’s also a producer of Wakeup Call, on WBAI, of which her co-director, Deepa Fernandes, is the host, Everyone who works at PPH is a media maker and a media teacher. We partner with groups to help them make media that supports their organizing. Radio Rootz which works with kids, media production and media literacy. And CNPI that works with low-wage workers.

We organize for media justice

Participatory media is about creating and distributing media but also understanding how it works, how it gets to you. “Opening the doors to media is not the same as media justice.” Different people are told different things about what stories are valuable, who is important.

Not that everyone will be a journalist, but emphasizing to young people that their stories are important and helping them figure out how to communicate.

We teach people how to edit, which is incredibly important so it’s not them gathering stories that the experts edit. We want people to be able to leave our organization, so they need to have the full range of skills.

One of the groups CNPI works with is street vendors. A POC and mostly immigrant workforce, they call themselves the smallest of small businesses. They get ridiculous fines. They had been attending City Council hearings on those fines, but when they came as press, it allowed them to confront Councilmembers in a different way. Their presence at the City Council hearings has an impact on the decisionmaking because the Councilmembers know someone is watching.

Played clip from Domestic Workers United. DWU went to Albany to make their case and they brought their own reporters.

They play these clips not just on WBAI, but around their community for other workers and the people they are trying to organize.

The summer program matched a group of youth with a community organization, which helped teach the youth about organizing. Instead of just publicizing their own
work, they all chose to address issues in their community that were not being discussed.

Played clip from group that addressed the issue of South Asian gangs, which no one was addressing. Now the community organizing group uses the piece to kick off discussions around their community.

Everyone asks, how do you engage people in discussing media policy. Kat ran a small workshop they use to teach 12-year-olds about media consolidation. Everyone writes down their own, idiosyncratic station play list. Then you crumple them up and force them to collaborate, which ultimately yields the lowest common denominator.

(Here’s my station:
Wakeup Call
Radio Rootz hour
LAMP hour
BBC World Service
Yankee games
Brooklyn Hip Hop hour)

End with big plug for Allied Media Conference, where these discussions and models are the main focus of the conference.

Comments off

Notes from “Beyond Rights and Reform: Imagining a Global Movement for Media Justice Featuring You”

Moderator: Malkia Cyril, Youth Media Council
Myoung-Joon Kim, MediaACT, South Korea
Alfredo Lopez, May First/People Link
Janvieve Williams, U.S. Human Rights Network and Radio Diaspora

[listen to this discussion]

——-

[Jesse Jackson's speech ran late so we started late.]

Malkia Cyril, Youth Media Council

Defining media justice…

Media rights need to be distributed. Media rules require enforcement. No way to do either fairly today.

Media justice is a response to the historical reality that the media can either be used as a tool to enforce white supremacy and capitalism, or it can be used as a tool to resist that infrastructure and transform it.

Media reform focuses on securing rights and reforming rules. We need to move beyond rights and reform.

Fighting for a just media means fighting for a just economy, for a just government.

This movement is not housed within or even led by the United States.

Here are concrete examples:

——-

Alfredo Lopez – Mayfirst/People Link (A union of Internet users.)

Having large numbers of people communicate with each other and doing things together used to be a dream. In 1968, we had no idea what was happening in other parts of the world. Had we known, things would have been different.

1.3 billion people today communicate consistently through the Internet. The Internet is a mass movement. We use the technology, but the reality is that we haven’t internalized that the Internet is, in and of itself, a social movement. It is a thoroughly democratic social movement, one that people try to repress and control, but it is out of control. Thoroughly international.

It has a culture of collaboration. Almost everything – the culture, the software, the protocols – is an act of collaboration, hundreds, thousands, of people. It proves that people naturally collaborate, not just motivated by profit.

The Internet has created a situation where the people who make, are affected by, or consume the news, can actually produce the news.

The filtering process that makes the truth has been altered by the Internet. It comes from us, the 1 billion who use the Internet.

Never a better chance to build a media movement.

If you work in media, you need to be an organizer.

Rules -
1. Put everything online.
2. Move toward collaboration between news writers and news readers and news sources.

The US Social Forum is an ideal place to practice new media and put these ideas into practice.

——-

Malkia – we agree with the “net” part, with the “digital” part. It’s the neutrality and the inclusion that don’t address the power relations.

Difference between increasing power and increasing choices.

Question of ownership – who owns? Ownership at the point of production.

Content is key. We engage people through content.

The rules: fuck the rules, let’s change the game. The rules are not the thing, the game is the thing. Who makes the rules? Not just what are the rules.

——-

Myoung-Joon Kim, MediaACT, South Korea

Good to see that the movement is growing in the belly of the beast.

[Josh Silver, Executive Director of Free Press, comes in and turns down the volume. The symbolism seems lost on him.]

Everyone has broadband in South Korea. We have a democratic country for the last 20 years, but we suffer from social problems and a neoliberal government that wants an FTA with the US and has sent troops to Iraq.

We have a social movement for media democracy. Based on trade union in media industry, independent filmmakers, and Internet activism (privacy + use of media to support social movement).

After 15 years, we have to reframe and restructure
because of (a) attack on participatory media and (b) commercialization of the Internet (at first it was open and led by progressive activism, but now that makes up a small part).

We didn’t have a clear idea of what sort of media structure we wanted to have. We fought against, but we didn’t talk about what we wanted.

We think we need a different structure – including mainstream media, independent media, and “public” media space (public access, media center, education).

Connecting grassroots activism to media policy.

If we lose one part of this movement, then our movement will be in trouble.

We have had some victories:
legislation guaranteeing access to public broadcaster, KBS. 30 minute weekly spot. A cable access structure. RTV, 24-hour satellite channel. Just won last month having this as a must-carry on cable systems. – Doesn’t mean everyone will watch it, but we have a chance to reach everyone. – You can get production support if your program is chosen for broadcast.

National Media Activist Network
also have a small network of producers working in mainstream media

One of the things we are trying to do is reframe and redefine “public interest” since that sometimes just means access to corporate-owned media. It needs to consider social inequities and communication rights, so we need a different meaning, the concept.

We need to strategize on how to extend public media space, based on grassroots activism, as a measure towards redistributing public resources.

It’s all about power, always. We always say people have the power, but really only organized, empowered people have power.

——-

Malkia – Media justice is seen as a sector of the media reform movement. In fact, media reform is a sector of the international media movement.

——-

Janvieve Williams Comrie
US Human Rights Network
Latin American and Caribbean Community Center

Radio Diaspora intro

Aiming to creasing a radical, people centered, human rights-focused movement.

Priorities – women, African descendants, indigenous movements. Not only focused on the US, nor on the South

WRFG in Atlanta, AG.
Only station with open doors for those that are always marginalized from mainstream media.
2 hour weekly program.
use media to support organizations in US Human Rights Network

Produce “This week in people’s history” – links whatever issue going on in a region back 100 years. (Not what happened this week then, but what happened then that matters to what happened this week in the present.) In English and Spanish

Upcoming projects
– radio theater in Spanish

Barriers

Unwanted replication of divisions within the region, especially based on language.

Latin America has taken the lead on public and community radio, but Caribbean access is more limited.

Community radio under attack – cuts in funding, listener support suffers from economic downturn, limited access in rural areas

Gowth and International Political Scope

CIMAC

Radio Insurgente – now linking to Caribbean struggles through people’s history.

Afro Venezuelan Network – sharing content

Colombia Guerrila Network

Points to Ponder

he question of all and limitations of many

what happens with Community Radio?

Funding Gap and a people centered human rights movement as an organizing and political educational tool?

——-

Malkia:

Another media system is possible, it is bound up with justice. Not in opposition to reform, but a visionary understanding of how media is bound up with justice.

A US-based civil rights movement on its own is insufficient.

How can we use the US Social Forum?

——

Josue Guillen from Mayfirst and the co-chair of communications working group for US Social Forum

We create relationships by working on things together. We create networks by building relationships by working on things together. So we need to come together to get 20,000 people to the US Social Forum in Atlanta, June 29, 30.

Meet for lunch on Saturday at 1 o’clock in the lobby of the Marriott to discuss US Social Forum.

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The SEMI Blog Explosion

If you know, then you know. But if you don’t know, Southeast Michigan is witnessing an explosion of thoughtful, radical, wonderful blogging.

They are personal without being insular, political without being didactic, and readable without being chatty. Each is everything a blog should be and their numbers are growing.

This post is my meager attempt to thank them for sharing and preserving their brilliant thoughts and inspiring experiences.

For starters, Jenny just launched Greater Detroit and Rachel recently started For Lack of Better Words. Their initial posts about staying and leaving are really poignant. (Very much set my mood for a post last week.)

Jenny and Rachel are both organizers of the 2007 Allied Media Conference, along with Mike, whose blog, omnicrisis, is going strong.

In addition, wsoft.heart has exploded out of the gate, posting every couple of days since starting a couple of months ago, offering great analysis of prop 2 and updates on the work of the DAY Project.

LucidAmbition, whose been online for a while, has reignited, making sense of his day-to-day on the blog.

Kate doesn’t blog about the local very much, but she can (and does) go toe-to-toe on Irish politics with anyone.

And, I have to say, blixx mixes his politics and cooking even better than Kat does, at least on the blog.

Invincible offers updates through her MySpace on her peripatetic life in music and organizing.

There are many more, like BlackatMichigan and The Upsidedown House, that I don’t know as well and probably even more that I don’t know at all.

With all this, Brownfemipower still takes the cake.

Many of these folks read early then-Michigan blogger Rob Goodspeed. And you shouldn’t underestimate the impact of the Michigan IMC experience on at least some (myself included) of these bloggers (just, as Chris Anderson argues – thank you, Chris – you shouldn’t underestimate the impact of Indymedia in general on blogging in general).

But I think you can trace the SEMI blog explosion directly to BFP and the community she has helped build up with the Women of Color blog ring. Without her analysis and advocacy, many of these folks would probably have remained convinced that blogging was a medium exclusively for white men with inflated egos (like yours truly). Thanks to her work and it’s constantly expanding ripples, that presumption seems to get less true every day.

The incredible and beautiful part of reading all of these blogs is how they are all so personal without a hint of the self-obsession that pervades the blogosphere. Everything is seen in context and the context is Detroit.

They are also in conversation with each other, linking and commenting, in such a way that a real sense of the city emerges. I hear there are plans for a PhillyFuture-style project, aggregating blogs from the region, hosted by Critical Moment.

I can’t wait.

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Article on W2i Digital Cities Convention

I got tagged by my editor at Digital Communities to cover last week’s Digital Cities Convention in Philadelphia. You can read the article here.

Digital Communities is industry funded, but with editorial independence (as far as I can tell). The readers are supposed to be city and industry folks, but I’m trying to write articles that are at least understandable and hopefully useful for a broader audience.

This article tries to use the convention to get a snapshot of the field of municipal wireless, which is changing really fast and getting much more competitive.

My friend asked me about one section in it:

Terry McGowan from PacketHop agreed. At the end of the second day, I jokingly asked him if he’d rung up any sales at the conference. He gave an answer, but in a common obstacle in writing this article, when I confirmed the quote with him, the Director of Corporate Marketing intervened and rephrased the answer: “The conference was very worthwhile for PacketHop,” said Kevin Payne of PacketHop. “We found that there was a lot of interest in our solutions for municipal services and that there were many opportunities to meet with actual decision makers.”

“Why was it a common problem in writing this article?” she asked.

It’s a common problem because I’m easy to talk to, actually interested in what people are saying, and most people are nice and happy to engage on a human level. (Others are self-important or trying to impress.) But then I’m more ethical than most reporters – I identify myself and check quotes with people – while PR flacks are mostly twits who idolize Ari Shapiro in the sense that they think they’re job is to deflect questions rather than answer them.

Compare my original paragraph:

Terry McGowan from Packethop agreed. At the end of the second day, I jokingly asked him if he’d rung up any sales at the conference. “I wish it were that easy,” McGowan said, “but there has been some interest.” [...] McGowan continued, “There weren’t a lot of people here, but they were the right people.”

That actually sounds like he and I had a conversation, which we did; Terry seemed like a nice guy doing. I filled in the rest, which is a writer’s job, describing how the product is a “solution for municipal services” and who the “right people” are. The PR translation was absurd to the point of offensive.

It’s also worth pointing out that Sascha Meinrath and co. submitted a proposal to the Department of Homeland Security in 2003 for an open source version of what PacketHop does – self-forming wireless mesh networks for emergency responders, specifically medical – but was turned down, only to find out that DHS then funded the development of a proprietary solution for 100 times as much money.

It’s really my fault for checking quotes with people. As my editor said, “if the person said something, they said it. If the journalist was up front as to who he is and that he is media, then that quote is fair game — even if the person later wanted to retract the quote or not have it used.”

I certainly was up front about who I was with John Rivers, the Cisco rep, who even said, “I can give you this one” before giving me not very useful quotes. I used them just to show that we had talked, but then he said in a follow up email, “I do not recall making either comment and do not support your including either in an article. For official quotes from Cisco, you should contact someone in Cisco Media relations.”

So I think I’ll stop that practice.

While I’m being negative, I should also thank Joe Caldwell from US Internet, the folks from IBM (who did pass me on to a PR person, but at least didn’t recant what they said in person), Erika from W2i, and Robert Ramsay who all gave useful quotes and stood by them. That makes a reporter’s job a lot easier.

Upcoming articles will be on hard-to-find sources of federal funding for broadband projects and the applicability of the Americans with Disabilities Act to the World Wide Web, as well as profiles of of ConnectKentucky and One Economy.

Please send me any thoughts or suggestions relating to those ideas or other potential articles, if you have them.

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Loose Cannon Blasts Comcast

Bruce Schimmel, in his latest Loose Cannon column, dropped a bomb on Comcast. Apparently, Monopolia Comcasticus “has never met certain minority and women business goals” as required in its franchise agreement with the City of Philadelphia. The penalty for this violation, according to the article, should be about $4.4 million.

Rebate, anyone?

Mind you, Comcast is still allocating its share of subcontracting money to local businesses, just not ones that are owned by women or African Americans.

It’s not surprising that Comcast would so blatantly flout its agreement with the City or that the City wouldn’t confront the local behemoth. We’re still waiting for our public access channels.

The absurd thing is how much time City Council spent pressing Earthlink on precisely this issue. As I blogged when Comcast was before City Council in June,

Councilman Nutter asked some pointed questions, including about Comcast’s fulfillment of its minority- and women-owned business requirements. Considering how intently Council focused on that issue with Earthlink, it was revealing to see how little they pressured Comcast on it.

Apparently, this caught Bruce’s eye, as well, and he followed up on it doggedly, getting the data and crunching the numbers. It would be nice if the City would now get a payday out of it, but little chance with this administration. Bruce deserves some appreciation regardless.

The way Bruce tells it, without Nutter, we’d still be speculating. So his article pushes me a bit towards Ruby Legs‘s  positon in support of Nutter for Mayor, even while most of the other people I know in Philly are backing Fattah. A willingness to buck Comcast is pretty much the first thing I look for in a Philly politician.

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The Closure of Clamor Magazine

If you are a subscriber to Clamor Magazine, you will receive a letter this week announcing that it is going out of business. The letter says, in part:

We’re writing to you today because we’ve decided to stop publishing Clamor. We set out to create an independent magazine that would bulldoze borders, defy dogma, and inspire instigation. We wanted to create a magazine that extended the vibrancy of the underground zine community to a larger general audience and share the enthusiasm and energy we saw in our fellow do-it-yourselfers. We intended to redefine the progressive magazine. And while we feel like we accomplished those goals at various stages, one goal we never fully realized is that of making Clamor economically sustainable.

… The obstacle of servicing old debt on an otherwise sustainable project while also negotiating major shifts in the magazine industry have proven too burdensome for us to continue publishing. But effective movement media doesn’t need to last indefinitely to be successful. We’re confident that many people have been inspired to do great things after reading about others doing the same in Clamor. We know this because we’ve been consistently inspired by the stories of struggle and triumph in Clamor. And while we’ll miss that, we’re also confident that there are independent media projects being born at this very moment with even greater promise.

Always respectful of the people who have made the enterprise possible, the publishers – Jen Angel, Jason Kucsma, Nomy Lamm, and Mandy Van Deven – told the editors, then the current writers, then the subscribers, before offering a statement to the public on the website, which should come next week. The next step is to start talking to their creditors.

The possibility of closing the magazine was discussed back even before I became a consulting editor in late 2001. Jen and Jason would have had to close up shop after just the first few issues had they not gotten the line of credit from Sky Bank (which is still Clamor’s biggest creditor besides the founders themselves).

It was one of those next few issues that I saw on the rack outside the entrance to the Clovis Press, a bookshop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that no longer exists (replaced by a cheese shop). I was so taken with it that the first thing I did when I moved to the midwest a couple of months later was call Clamor HQ and ask if I could help.

Michael Simmons, in telling The Nation in 2001 about his favorite media sources, called it “the best periodical to come out of the antiauthoritarian Battle of Seattle generation.” That sounds like a good way to start describing Clamor’s place in the annals of independent publishing.

Clamor Magazine was also a fine, collective accomplishments of the zine world and, more generally, of those who believe in participatory media. Clamor published over 1000 writers and artists in its 7-year, 38-issue run. Some historian should check to see if that’s some kind of record.

Clamor spread the word about a lot of important stories and to a lot of people who wouldn’t have otherwise heard those stories. The Internet notwithstanding, chain store newsstands and those one or two channels on satellite TV are pretty much the only way to broadcast challenging political ideas into unfriendly territory.

In my view, the challenge of serving as a point of entry for both new writers and new readers while also speaking to a devoted base of supporters proved too much for the project.

That is not to detract at all from the business challenges described in the letter to subscribers. Publishing a magazine is an expensive operation and almost impossible to sustain without an external funding source. For Clamor, whose publishers never had personal wealth or ready access to rich folks like many on the coasts do, the only external funding source they could find were small business loans and credit cards.

Independent publishing gets even harder when your primary advocate, the Independent Press Association, is failing to pay you what it owes and failing to keep your magazine on the newsstand. Clamor’s closure is a black eye for the IPA.

(I don’t think it really compares to the recent closure of the irreverent LiP magazine since that publication never got past being a vanity project, Jenn Whitney’s article on Indymedia notwithstanding. The NewStandard, which is also facing major financial challenges, is an online outlet with a completely different business model.)

My hope is that emerging media projects, as the letter suggests, will step up to take on more of the three very important tasks Clamor took on: providing an outlet for new writers; politicizing new readers; serving as a forum for established activists.

Wiretap, for example, is an ideal place for new writers. As it grows increasingly independent from Alternet, I think it is becoming a great place for anyone to publish. It’s online and not in print, but the world wide web is probably the right place for first-time writers. And it pays.

From my admittedly limited perspective, Left Turn is currently the premier printed forum for inter-activist reporting. Reborn for the global justice movement (the rebranded and renewed antiglobalization movement), it has a more specific politic than Clamor did and cultivates writers more intentionally. That makes it more limited in some ways, more focused in others.

The editors of Left Turn maintain strong and principled alliances with the people, organizations, and campaigns reported in its pages. It’s less likely than Clamor has been, however, to have those stories of small or unsung victories. It’s those stories, the ones that seem random until you get them all on a page together, that gave Clamor its voice-in-the-wilderness quality for so many people – that, the consistent DIY-you-can-do-it tone, and the serious midwest pride.

That’s the thing we’ll be losing most dramatically with the closure of Clamor: the ability to reach new people with an honest, accessible voice. As far as I know, no one is really doing that for young potential activists now that Clamor is gone. (I sometimes call this the NCOR problem: what to do with the thousands of eager, young, and – in the NCOR case – white folks now that you can’t just tell them to go to the next big protest.)

Clamor didn’t do it perfectly, but that’s a critical task that someone needs to do. Maybe The Ave, assuming it’s still going, could do more of that, or Punk Planet – it’s useful in some ways to divide the task into hip hop and punk, though that combination may have been what gave Clamor some of its threat potential. Still, giving people information in a palatable format is different from plugging them into ways to take action.

In an organized movement, entry point organizations like Indyvoter, Movement Strategy Center, and Students for a Democratic Society would take responsibility for publishing a magazine to attract new people. They might not see it that way and publishing is resource-intensive no matter who does it, so I don’t expect they’ll be taking it up anytime soon. But without some coordination and a shared sense of obligation, no one will be able to sustain such a project.

Movement media rarely emerges from such a process, of course. Indymedia is the rare exception. Usually, a small group starts a publication, people take to it or don’t, it lives for a while, then dies when the money runs out (which usually happens in the first year), or when the political situation changes, or when the publishers’ life situations change.

All three of those things seemed to happen to Clamor at the same time. It’s sad, but fine. It was a good run. The Allied Media Conference and the online infoSHOP direct, two projects born from Clamor that actively support other media projects, will continue.

So when the letter to subscribers says, “there are independent media projects being born at this very moment with even greater promise,” that is in no small way thanks to the infrastructure, inspiration, and advice Clamor’s publishers have provided us over the last seven years.

Please see this Emergency Message from Clamor Magazine

Comments (22)

Violence against reporters on the edge is harbinger to destruction…

Our country is focused on the civil war in Iraq; we are failing to notice the one emerging on our doorstep.

Sarah Ferguson has posted an extensive article addressing the question, “Who shot Brad Will?” The NYC IMC statement on the Caña Cadeza Investigation still stands.

Since Brad’s murder on October 27, three other journalists have been killed in Mexico: Roberto Marcos García, José Manuel Nava Sánchez, and Misael Tamayo Hernández. They were not working in Oaxaca, where many other reporters have been attacked by government forces, but those deaths compound Mexico’s standing as the most dangerous country in Latin America for journalists.

Jaime Arturo Olvera Bravo, Enrique Perea Quintanilla, and Ramiro Téllez Contreras were killed earlier this year and Rafael Ortiz Martínez and Alfredo Jiménez Mota are missing.

Over 100 journalists and media activists have signed the letter for press freedom in response to Brad’s death. It states, in part,

When the members of the press are subjected to physical attack, it is our values of freedom and of democracy which suffer… Hoodlums and political operatives who wish to operate under cover of darkness often feel safe in silencing independent reporters through acts of violence and intimidation. Violence against reporters on the edge is harbinger to destruction of press freedom in the middle.

The attacks on journalists in Mexico are symptoms of a much, much bigger problem: a new dirty war has begun in response to widespread political unrest.

From Oaxaca, the country’s poorest state, to the Lacandon Jungle of Chiapas, to the capitol Mexico City where López Obrador continues to reject the legitimacy of incoming president Felipe Calderón, the country is growing increasingly unstable. Drug traffickers control or terrorize much of the north and there is severe corruption at all levels of the government. Meanwhile, the Bush administration is militarizing the US-Mexico border.

We are on the eve of either a great uprising or a civil war,” Subcomandante Marcos stated at a press conference on the day of our Thanksgiving. And then things got even worse

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