[IMC-Boston-Discuss] Proposed Mission Statement (finally!)

Sofia JarrinT sofiajt at yahoo.com
Tue Jul 19 13:46:24 PDT 2005

Wow! Nice long treatise on indymedia.  I have to agree
with Matt.  To me, Indymedia has to do with activism,
with media reform, with supporting the community that
doesn't have a voice. We are not just an alternative
to media, we are the left of "progressive" media.  We
are about social justice, environmental reform,
corporate accountability, power discourse,
anti-globalization, fair trade, global freaking

Yes, I would consider articles that don't necessarily
fit the above, but Wikkinews to me is just one more
media repository of everything.  There's just too many
of those.

To me Indymedia is the grassroots movement of the
media (but I wouldn't use "grassroots organization" in
the mission).  It's a world collective on social
justice. I'm SO not interested in Indymedia becoming
institutionalized, organized, recognized by the rest
of the media as its own source of news (which already
is, by the way, which is what Democracy Now's use of
Indymedia news goes to show). "Progressive" media is:
The Nation, the Progressive, Znet, Zmag, Dollars &
Sense, CommonDreams, Mother Jones, Yes, etc., etc.
etc. (just to name print)

In my humble opinion, Indymedia is not the same as
above.  It's a focal point of millions of freelance
media creators and reformers.  It's fluctuating and
disorganized, and I love it!

To recap on Sofia/Matt/Pete conversation, I'm going to
go looking for my notes on that meeting. I know I
forwarded it to you, but I can't find it now.  I know
we agreed on "social justice".  We agree to leave
"progressive" out.  And I'm not sure if we came to a
conclusion about "economic justice."


--- Matthew Williams <mw21 at mindspring.com> wrote:

> I'd like to start by encouraging *everyone* to join
> in this 
> conversation. I don't want this turn to another
> back-and-forth between 
> me, Pete and Sofia. Even just a quick note to say
> that you concur with 
> someone else's opinion is helpful, because it gives
> us a better idea of 
> where everyone stands.
> I like the phrase "community-based collective". I
> think it's more 
> accurate than the term "grassroots", which usually
> means an 
> organization that has a large, active membership
> (although some 
> non-profits will use it to indicate a large
> membership, but one that is 
> largely passive beyond sending in donations). We're
> not a 
> membership-based organization--what we really are is
> a small group of 
> volunteers who come to meetings regularly and do the
> dirty work needed 
> to keep Indy Media going, like debugging the
> website, editing it, 
> putting together TV and radio shows, doing
> fund-raiser, etc.; plus 
> there are also folks who contribute stories without
> having any greater 
> level of involvement. Anyone who shares our basic
> values welcome to get 
> involved at any level they feel comfortable with. I
> think 
> "community-based collective" captures this
> well--certainly better than 
> any other suggestions.
> You "capitulation" to me, Pete? What on earth are
> you talking about? 
> You make it sound like I threatened to break your
> kneecaps or something 
> :) You, Sofia and I had a couple of long
> conversations about the 
> mission statement and we finally agreed on something
> that we were all 
> comfortable with. (It was just the three of us
> because everyone else 
> present didn't want to get involved, not because we
> were trying to form 
> some inner cabal.) It included the term "social
> justice", to indicate 
> our basic values (something Sofia and I *both*
> wanted), but did it in 
> such a way that we maintained some critical distance
> from the groups we 
> cover. You made the decision to elaborate on what we
> agreed on without 
> consulting anyone first and then asked for feedback.
> Honestly, that 
> probably really was not a wise thing to do,
> especially since your 
> additions tilt the mission statement back in the
> direction you are 
> comfortable with. My suggestion for a change was an
> attempt to tilt it 
> back to the compromise we'd reached--I added
> something about social 
> justice, I did it in a similar way, that put some
> distance between 
> ourselves and groups working for social justice, in
> an effort to phrase 
> it in a way you'd be comfortable with. Probably the
> simplest way to 
> deal with this would just to go back to the
> original, single-sentence 
> mission statement. It also seems like the most
> sensible course of 
> action, since a mission statement is not worth this
> degree of debate. 
> And the single-sentence mission statement really
> says everything that 
> needs saying--it already mentions creating greater
> media access, which 
> gets at your central concerns Pete.
> As for phrases like "progressive" or "social
> justice"--we all agree 
> that we don't want to be some narrowly
> anti-authoritarian outfit as 
> some IMCs are (though many if not most of us are
> anti-authoritarians), 
> but to encompass the broad range of the left, from
> liberal to 
> anarchist. If we want to do that we have to use some
> vague expansive 
> phrase, like "progressive" or "social justice" or
> "left", none of which 
> have a clear meaning and imply different things to
> different people. To 
> some people, "progressive" means that fuzzy gray
> area between liberal 
> and radical, for others it's an inclusive term that
> covers everyone 
> from liberal to radical. I was using it in the
> latter sense. Similarly, 
> to me "social justice" implies the full range of
> social issues we care 
> about--it refers to basic values all leftists, from
> left-liberals to 
> anarchists, care about--what we differ on is what
> sorts of structural 
> changes are necessary to implement these values. If
> we want to be an 
> IMC that is a home for everyone in Boston's various
> progressive social 
> movements, we will inevitably have to pick some
> vague phrase, because 
> there isn't a clear one. I suppose we could always
> footnote the mission 
> statement to explain what we mean by these terms
> though :)
> For all of you who are just tuning into this debate
> and wondering what 
> the heck is going on, it comes down to the fact that
> Pete has a very 
> different vision of Indy Media should go than Sofia
> and I (not that 
> Sofia and I agree on everything either). Pete wants
> to emphasize just 
> creating greater media access and public
> participation in creating the 
> media. Of course, we all think this is important,
> otherwise we wouldn't 
> be involved with Indy Media. Pete's position (as I
> understand 
> it--please correct me if I'm wrong) is that media
> access should be our 
> sole concern though and that we should try to go
> mainstream, to compete 
> with outlets like WikiNews. He believes that such
> changes in the 
> structure of media are enough in and of themselves a
> to create great 
> change and that if Indy Media doesn't go mainstream,
> it will simply be 
> left in the dust, because people will post to places
> like WikiNews, 
> where more people will read their accounts, and
> usage of Indy Media 
> will drop off.
> My position--and from casual conversation I've had,
> it feels like most 
> people in Boston Indy Media are closer to this
> position than to Pete's 
> (though I certainly haven't talked to everyone)--is
> that Indy Media has 
> its roots in the global justice movement
> specifically and in movements 
> for social justice (or whatever you want to call it)
> more generally. 
> This is reflected in our news reporting, most of
> which is about issues 
> like labor, racial justice, environmentalism,
> globalization, peace, 
> electoral reform, gay rights, etc. Media
> reform--including making media 
> more accessible and participatory--is an important
> part of this wider 
> social justice agenda. Indy Media is--or at least
> should be--an 
> important part of the media reform movement that
> seems to be growing 
> these days. However, we're not going to change
> things by striking out 
> on our own and divorcing ourselves from our roots in
> the left. Social 
> change doesn't happen through small efforts--it
> happens through large 
> movements, within which many people working on
> different projects like 
> Indy Media coordinate their efforts. Indy Media is
> becoming 
> increasingly important to these efforts, as we
> become an increasingly 
> central part of the left's communications and media
> infrastructure. We 
> are already making a big difference, as part of
> something larger than 
> just Indy Media. If we try to go mainstream and be
> like WikiNews, we'll 
> probably loose most of our audience. Right now, we
> provide a home for 
> progressive activists--they know the news they find
> here will come from 
> a perspective that more-or-less reflects theirs and
> they won't have to 
> deal with the frustrations they have when they read
> mainstream news 
=== message truncated ===

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