A Call to Converge
Vermont, October 14, 2000 (date subject to change)
At the dawn of a new century, nine multi-media giants own most of the global broadcast stations, major newspapers, magazines, and recording, film, and publishing companies. Media merger madness is clearly upon us. At the same time, computers, the Internet, video, community radio, independent newspapers, and related new technologies offer opportunities for democratization and empowerment.
Plans are currently being made for a regional Independent Media Conference. The idea is that, on October 14 – just as the national elections are moving into overdrive — progressive media workers in northern New England gather to share experiences and attempt to develop a common agenda. We would look at the current environment, discuss the alternatives, and take new steps to build a movement for media democracy. Potential outcomes include the launching of a new publication or station, creation of a regional news network, and development of a set of principles and proposals to promote change and improve access to all media.
Consider the possibilities:
* An information distribution infrastructure, linking the local to the global, has started to take shape. Progressive radio programming is gaining ground, and more is on the way.
Shouldn’t people throughout northern New England have access to these programs?
* Independent Media Centers, which produce video, print and radio programs, provide technical support, and offer open access, are already operating in at least five places.
Could this region have one, too?
* Despite the expansion of weekly chains, a new generation of "alternative" newspapers is building an economic base while recapturing the commitment of an earlier era.
Can Vermont support a commercially viable progressive, statewide weekly?
* Despite FCC inaction and a congressional sell out, micro radio stations — also known as "pirate" or low power — continue to pop up. Their listening range is small, but so is the cost.
What can be done to expand community and micro radio?
* Platform web sites are helping to create networks of independent publications and other media — radio working with television and print.
What steps can be taken to unite our efforts?
In other words, there are alternatives to corporate media globalization and unresponsive local media. Some exist now, more can be created. Using new tools, we can work more cooperatively to open up the debate on local, state, and international issues. In doing so, we can also mirror the values of the society we want to create — participatory, democratic, sustainable, and open.
If you agree that it’s time to converge – to break down some barriers and provide mutual support – please respond to the feedback form that follows this message. You’re also welcome to join the Organizing Committee, or join our eGroup and receive updates.
You already know what most commercial stations and publications will do — continue to provide distractions and distortions, from compulsive consumerism and the daily diet of violence and death to the national spectacle-of-the-week. Isn’t it time to seize the moment, in this time of merging and converging, both to speak up and unite?
Please join the effort to promote and support community-based, progressive, sustainable media.
— IMC Organizing Committee (in formation): Toward Freedom, National Writers Union – Vermont Sub-chapter, Green Mountain Fund for Popular Struggle, Media Channel, Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting, Old North End Rag, The Watchman.
Join the Convergence!
We need your views and support to make the conference a success. Please take a few minutes to provide some reactions, indicate what you could contribute, and explain how to stay in touch. Just complete or copy the following form and return it to: Toward Freedom, PO Box 468, Burlington, VT 05402 Attn.: IMC; or e-mail, MavMedia@aol.com.
What topics or themes should be emphasized at a regional conference for independent media?
Are you willing to endorse the conference call?
( ) Yes ( ) No
Is your group able to become a sponsor?
( ) Yes ( ) No (Sponsorship can involve publicity and promotion, organizing a workshop, participation in planning, in-kind contributions, etc. No financial contribution required.)
What changes or additions do you suggest for the conference call or focus? I would like to be involved by:
( ) Developing a workshop (please list topic)
( ) Participating as a panel or plenary speaker
( ) Helping with outreach and promotion
( ) Joining the organizing committee
( ) Raising funds
( ) Volunteering at the event
( ) Making a financial donation
Your name: Group affiliation: E-mail address: Street address: Phone:
Provide any other comments you think would help. Please e-mail MavMedia@aol.com, or call (802) 654-8024 if you want to attend meetings in Vermont or join the e-mail organizing list.
To join IndyConvergence eGroup, send e-mail to: IndyConvergencefirstname.lastname@example.org. By joining this group, you will be able to send messages to fellow group members using one email address. The complete conference call will also be available on the site.