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


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


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?



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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