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Hooray for Hollywood
Imagine a Country Life in â€¦
Resistance, Humanitarian Aid, & the â€¦
Corporations, Law, & Democracy
Bush's Multiplex Wars Iraq, “terrorism,” â€¦
Preventing Iraqi Self-Determination
World Challenges GMOs
Syria: The Next Domino? Will â€¦
Iraq is a Trial Run â€¦
Supporting the Troops A code â€¦
Press the Press
Direct Action at Boeing
Boycott Azteca Tortillas
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Media Activists Challenge FCC
D ressed as mad scientists with large cardboard TVs on their heads, a group of protesters gathered outside a recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) public hearing on February 27. Declaring that “Communication is a human right,” the activists called for greater public participation in a controversial new policy debate.
The FCC is considering eliminating rules that prohibit the same company from owning daily newspapers and TV stations in the same market and that bar broadcast companies from owning enough stations to reach more than a combined 35 percent of U.S. households. Prometheus Radio Project, which brought a delegation from Philadelphia to the hearing, has described the proceedings leading to these potential rollbacks as “the most comprehensive reexamination of rules affecting media ownership in the agency’s history.”
Media democracy organizations from around the country, including upstate New York, Maryland, Michigan, and Chicago, traveled to Richmond, Virginia for the hearings and a morning demonstration. They were joined by activists from several local organizations, including Free Radio Richmond.
Before the February hearings, the FCC had received more than 13,000 comments filed by the public concerning the upcoming decision, the vast majority of which opposed loosening of media ownership rules. The protesters dressed as mad scientists in response to FCC chair Michael Powell’s earlier statement that much of the input from the public regarding the upcoming decision had been too “emotional” and “political.” He said he was only interested in “scientific” and “empirical” studies.
In a pamphlet handed out at the hearings, the media-activist group Media Alliance argued, “the withdrawal of official involvement in official hearings called for by Commissioner Michael Copps signals a clear rejection of the public’s opinion.” Arguing against more hearings, Powell said, “...in the digital age, you don’t need a 19th century whistle stop tour to hear from America.”
Shivaani Selvaraj, lead organizer with Prometheus Radio stated, “This will be a landmark decision that could radically change the landscape of media in this country. We’re here to show the Commissioners that the public refuses to be left out of this debate. It’s not that we’re against science. We don’t think that the FCC’s 12 commissioned studies focusing exclusively on markets and consumers constitute science. Commissioner Copps earlier warned us that they don’t know the potential implications for their actions. The FCC must extend their period for research and to hear more from the public.”
Media democracy activists linked media issues to many different political issues. Many addressed the role the media plays in U.S. foreign policy. One protester had recently returned from Palestine where she acted as a human shield to deter Israeli military violence on Palestinians. She told me, “The realities of the military occupation of Palestine really aren’t presented by the media we see in this country. We hear about terrorists and the language of fear mongering promoted by the government. We really don’t see what the daily lives of Palestinians are like—three million Palestinians are living under siege, but we are led to believe the opposite: that Israel (funded by billions of U.S. dollars) is under siege from Palestinian attacks. U.S. citizens bear a great responsibility in that part of the world because so many tax dollars are going there.”
Inside the hearing, several speakers from the public argued that U.S. corporate media censorship has silenced those challenging President Bush’s (then pending) escalation of the conflict with Iraq. Two representatives from the Anti- War Video Fund spoke about Comcast Corporation’s recent blocking of a video they produced. Set to be aired the night of Bush’s State of the Union Address, where he was making his case for war, the video contained interviews with mainstream U.S. citizens voicing their opposition to the war drive.
During the open-mic session inside the hearings, Herb Avram, editor of Philadelphia’s INSUBORDINATION magazine spoke about the lack of diversity in regards to the media’s coverage of the war on Iraq.
Part of the “mad scientist” contingent from Philadelphia, Avram addressed the FCC chairperson’s stated desire to see “scientific” criticism. “One of the clearest empirical examples of U.S. military ties to the media machine is the fact that FCC chair Michael Powell is the son of Colin Powell. When the Secretary of State presented supposedly rock solid proof of the imminent threat from Iraq, the corporate media did not challenge his statements.”
When Avram was beginning to cite UN Inspector Hans Blix’s description of U.S. intelligence on Iraq as “garbage,” he was cut off a minute early.
Not one speaker from the public open-mic session expressed support for further relaxation of laws restricting media consolidation. They were joined by a handful of the 15 panelists invited to speak by the FCC who opposed the decision. Among the four Commissioners that sat with FCC chair Powell, Congressperson Michael Copps (one of the main figures pushing for the public hearings) was the most sympathetic. At one point he accused a panelist representing the Bear Stearns Corporation of evading his question of whether or not the FCC move would concentrate the media in the hands of only a few people. When he later made a joke about media consolidation, he drew loud applause from the crowd.
The FCC’s decision on this controversial issue remains to be seen. Other media democracy organizations have organized around the country to make sure that they have some input in the decisions. On March 7, Public Enemy rapper and writer Chuck D and others appeared at an unofficial hearing in Seattle, Washington, one of the many community-organized forums that have occurred around the country.
An example of the numerous nationwide demonstrations organized in the last few years was the March 22, 2002 event. Earlier, Michael Powell stated, “The night after I was sworn in, I waited for a visit from the angel of public interest. I waited all night, but she did not come.” He went on to say, “I still have had no divine awakening and no one has issued me my public interest crystal ball.” In response to what they felt was an arrogant and anti-democratic sentiment, media activists from Philadelphia and around the country dressed up as angels and descended on FCC headquarters in Washington, DC to deliver their homemade “public interest crystal ball.” Speakers included DeeDee Halleck of Paper Tiger TV, War Cry of the Information Liberation Front, and the Reverend Billy. When the angels attempted to enter the building and request a meeting with Powell, they were blocked by police.
Media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has documented the mainstream media bias and slander of death row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal over the years. One of the worst examples of this was Sam Donald- son’s “20/20” report on Mumia’s case. In its analysis FAIR concluded that the program relied on both the propagation of white supremacist stereotypes of Blacks as well as overt misrepresentation of the facts. A few years earlier, the airing of Abu-Jamal’s radio essays on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” was cancelled under pressure from the police and Senator Bob Dole.
The Kensington Welfare Rights Union in Philadelphia organized the October 2002 “Break the Media Blackout” conference which explicitly connected the struggle to abolish poverty in the U.S. to the issue of media democracy. KWRU's Cheri Honkala believes that the “mainstream media has consciously made the poor disappear and doesn’t talk about the daily struggles of poor people in the U.S.” Honkala explains that KWRU “supports independent media in the U.S. and we also see ourselves as reporters, make use of the Internet, and see the importance of documenting everything our selves.”
Norman Solomon, a long-time journalist writing about the U.S. media, sees media issues as being part of a larger picture. He argues, “if democracy is going to come into being in this country it needs to tear down the economic inequities that are making democracy in many respects impossible.”
On March 22 media activists organized a “feeder march” demonstration outside of CNN before joining the hundreds of thousands of other protesters that had gathered that day in New York City to express their opposition to the escalation of the war on Iraq that had begun earlier that week. These anti-war protesters argued that CNN and other corporate media outlets’ coverage of the war on Iraq helped the Bush administration by slanting their news and not providing the public with the information to make an informed decision.
Another prominent Philadelphia media-activist group organizing against U.S. militarism is AWOL magazine (a project of the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors and the War Resisters League). AWOL employs alternative media in their effort to challenge the U.S. military’s recruitment of youth of color, they publish a magazine and a mostly hip-hop CD. Speaking for AWOL , Kevin Ramirez argues that “the media by and large has become a funnel for information for the Pentagon and the Department of Defense to manufacture consent and create the atmosphere of mainstream approval for the way Bush is executing the war on terrorism and the imperial aggression in Iraq. It is clear that the media is being held accountable to the corporations that own it, that are also involved in the industries of arms manufacturing. I oppose the possible FCC decision because further media consolidation will only make this worse.”
While the current moves by the FCC towards the legalization of
further consolidating the mass media in the hands of even fewer
corporations is quite scary, resistance to it has also created
an atmosphere of hope.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.