Friday, October 28, 2005


The role of disinformation in Indymedia's credibility

More soul searching, this time on Santa Barbara IMC. But first, a joke:
Little Johnny was in his 5th grade class when the teacher asked the children what their fathers did for a living. All the typical answers came up --- fireman, policeman, salesman, etc...

Little Johnny was being uncharacteristically quiet and so the teacher asked him about his father. "My father's a welfare queen who frequents gay bars. Sometimes, if he gets lucky at closing time and he catches the eye of someone desperate, and if the offer's fair, he'll go out to the alley with some guy and make love with him for money."

The teacher, obviously shaken by this statement, hurriedly set the other children to work on some coloring or Play-Doh, and took Little Johnny aside to ask him, "Is that really true about your father?

"No," said little Johnny, "He's an editor at the SF-IMC, but I was too embarrassed to say that in front of the other kids."
Why? According to the article:
Indymedia has become infected with disinformation, enemy propaganda, gibberish, flame wars and spam. They discredit Indymedia as a source of credible information. They discredit every IMCista as an activist. They are, in short, bad journalism and worse politics.

Indymedia's failure as a network to practice even the most basic, minimum standards of journalism has drawn wide criticism.
The solution?
Indymedia is at a critical juncture in it's development. Either it learns to employ even the most basic, minimum standards of journalism or it will never be credible. That means it will never live up to its enormous potential. It will remain in the rut it's in now until, one by one those volunteers who recognize the virtue and necessity of credibility, lose faith, abandon hope and drift away. When enough of them have gone, Indymedia, at least as we know it, will die.

That would be a great shame, for with just a little more work and care, Indymedia could seriously compete for the hearts and minds of the news hungry public, with the ubiquitous propaganda mill of the corporate-government complex. If it can't do that, it's a failure, and should be abandoned in favor of something that does work.
I've suggested something similar. The article makes more valid suggestions:
Foremost of the basic principles of journalism which Indymedia needs to employ is fact checking. Disinformation has no place in credible news. Forgeries are the quintessential disinformation. They have long been used by the forces of repression to discredit activists, and activist organizations of all stripes
and in so doing, prompted a series of arguments, fights and name-calling against the author. Typical.

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