Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Has Sydney Cleaned up its Act?

Via comments I learn that Sydney Indymedia has hidden several of the disgracefully antisemitic articles which have polluted the newswire in the last few weeks.


I'm cautious to speculate whether this represents a dramatic shift in Sydney's policy, however will always give credit where it is due. Having said that however, it took several days/weeks for it to happen. How long will it take idiots to repost them, and what will happen subsequently? We will watch and see.

One thing is for sure, as many bloggers and political sites know. If trolls are constantly and consistently beaten down, they will go elsewhere. If they are allowed to thrive however, they will do just that instead.

Meanwhile, a comment which appears on an otherwise unrelated post raises some interesting points. I'll reprint the whole thing here with my comments embedded in turn:
I've been an IMC hack for various Indymedia centres across the planet for the last few years. I also do spots for Indymedia Radio shows.

I write anonomously, and gets lots of good feedback for my work.

Not all posts to IMC sites can be viewed being as "failures". I do agree though, we get all sorts of crap being posted by conspirac-nuts and as you say "bigots, trolls and Nazis" but some stuff is really good stuff.
I don't dispute that. However, the good in many cases doesn't justify tolerance of the bad. Bear in mind also (as I do) that some IMC sites are certainly better than some. I accept that reading my blog you will seldom hear of the good work, but this is a result of the amount of negative contribution to society made on the IMC sites I critique (and that it would make this blog a lot less entertaining).
Stuff that you would not see on the mainstream media. Not because its bad writing - but because it attacks the corporate agenda of those who seek to profit at virtually any cost.
I think you come across as rather unfair on many media outlets who, it may surprise you, do have a conscience and ethics. Certainly Indymedia is not in any place to throw stones.
Perhaps appreciate the volunteer nature of IMCs, and understand the demands the of day-to-day grass-roots struggle that activism entails...
I have heard this argument used to justify the failure of moderators to hide articles which are offensive/illegal/disgraceful and discussed the problem at some length here.
I can somewhat appreciate your examination on Indymedia. Akthough I am not entirely sure what you're trying to achieve.
If it causes Indymedia to shape up and make an overwhelmingly positive contribution to society (or failing that, shut down with honor) I'm happy.
Why not write some good quality journalism yourself and use the facilities of IMCs. Perhaps be an example instead of an outright hostility against the good work of IMC volunteers.
A fine suggestion, however it will not address the fundamental problems of IMC. I don't believe this blog or my actions represent "outright hostility" as legitimate criticism, which is in my opinion seldom heard by IMC. I say this based on the number of emails and comments I have received from people who have simply walked away from IMC and migrated to other forums, blogs and websites across the Internet. They are the "quality journalists" you would seek to endorse, yet are/were completely frustrated with the unprofessionalism, amateurishness and in many cases downright stupidity of the respective IMC site.
Perhaps join your local Indymedia editorial collective yourself and actually change the media itself ...
Been there, done that. Have generally avoided talking about it lest it be seen as sour grapes. It isn't as I can stand behind all I have written on this site.
To cut a long story short, I guess I just thought I'd say I don't quite get where you're comin from. Your banner at Indy Media Watch reads:

"Indymedia was set up to fill a void in the corporate media"

Actually, IMCs were set up for communications between activists at the WTO in 1999, and to tell the stories directly from the frontline of protest. So in one sense you are correct: the corporate media does little to really tell the stories of those who oppose exploitation at the expense of others.
Different IMCs may have different opinions on what their role is. Some agree with me, others with your interpretation. It doesn't ultimately matter, as long as they are doing good things, instead of dumb.
But to imply that IMCs can replace or take over mainstream profit-driven media outlets is erroneous.
I agree. The two could be complementary. At the moment, Indymedia isn't.
So why not try to help the IMC phenomena rather that attack what is an excellent medium for dispersal of information.
I am trying to help. Really. The choice is for my arguments (which I am certainly not alone in making) to be accepted.
Furthermore, I'd really like to read some positive suggestions from you about how to improve the quality of IMCs?
I'd suggest simply reading back over numerous posts on the understanding that most (not all) of what I link to is an demonstrable example of something wrong.

As a 'quick-win' however, the various IMC sites could get serious about preventing the posting of material which is hateful, libelous, antisemitic or factually incorrect. This could come about through responsible management, diligent enforcement and in some cases user-registration or some other hoops to reduce 'drive-by stupidity'. It is not a hopeless task, many other political blogs and news sites do it so Indymedia could - if they wanted to. The issue is intent. Thanks for visiting.

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