Saturday, March 18, 2006


Analyzing Indymedia

Via Urbana-Champaign comes a report from Danielle Chynoweth, founder of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center and a member of the Urbana City Council.

She starts:
I want to tell the story of our IMC because it provides an image of where I think we should be going.
Egads! I wonder if she's browsed any of the material I have archived...

She then suggests some of the "Guiding principles of independent journalism":
Opinionated, Fair, and Accurate
Every story has a point of view. Indymedia replaces the ruse of objectivity - which is so often used as a smokescreen for bias - with the values of fairness, honesty, accuracy, and opinion, to cite Amy Goodman's media credo. Good journalism does not claim objectivity, but is in hot pursuit of the "best available version of the truth.” By becoming a venue for subjectivity, we become a venue for suppressed stories. In indymedia, the subject wrestles the microphone away from an “objectivity” that hides blood on its hands. Are not afraid to take a stand or provide opinion or analysis with more factual information.
A noble aim. However, she needs to ignore for a second what Indymedia should be (or could be) and focus on what it is, which differs significantly from the above.
Local Local Local
Our local media has been gutted. People are least aware of this because their main source of information is the same source wanting them to continue to think that local news is local. Most of the story viruses infecting your brain come from storytelling factories out of Maryland, New York, anywhere but your home town. What we need is a fleet of amateur hero journalists - aka you and me to investigate and tell the stories that are not being told. Campus activists are focused on Darfur, Coca cola, sweatshops, fair trade coffee, progressives are focused on the war. Yes, it is important to understand ourselves in as part of a global community. But too often the local stories, where we can have the most influence, are ignored.
Local eh? Would this explain why nearly every single IMC site is saturated with identical spam about Israel, and in many cases ignores altogether 'Darfur' or similar examples of international human rights issues worthy of more attention? Or is she simply in denial?

She continues:
From this base we have built, we have been able to help other IMC's grow such as NYC, DC, Nigeria, and Baghdad.
Wait! There's a Baghdad Indymedia? I have never found it via any of the links on a single Indymedia page (including Urbana), nor could I guess the URL. If I want independent news from Baghdad, Indymedia isn't of any use whatsoever, yet blogs such as Healing Iraq and others are. Interestingly, many of these Iraqi sites do not share the same narrative of the US Administration as Indymedia does.

I have raised the question before as to why, for a group claiming to promote free reporting of the news, there is so little Middle Eastern Indymedia when most of the countries in the region would seem to be ideal candidates. I have come to my own conclusions.

She continues:
Go to where the Silences are
This is Amy Goodman's motto. This requires that we watch for the holes in the mainstream news, take stories that walk in off the street, and connect ourselves tightly to the underrepresented voices.
Yup... Ask the Iranians or the oppressed Christian Arab minorities. They are still waiting for Indymedia's help.

Overall, her statement is idealistic yet stunning in its naivety. This woman (or womyn as she apparently prefers) needs to have a real look at Indymedia, and ask how to fix it, rather than spend her time deceiving others of its virtues.

She is clearly detached from reality, and as she is an elected member of the local council in a district which has an enormous number of students, prompts me to ask what they get up to.

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