[Imc-communication] my thoughts on the grant
sofiajt at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 7 20:11:39 PST 2008
Oh, boy. I've been truly enjoying reading all your emails now that I'm on the list and can reply. I think my favorite quote of them all was: "So IMHO the Knight Foundation competition is not just a competition by "a foundation", it's a competition intentionally designed by one of the biggest DEpendent media companies in the USA with the main management goal of developing Manufacturing-of-Consent-2.0." We're getting deeep, and that's awesome. Nothing like some Chomsky to bring me down to earth.
I also loved this observation, "Well, going back to the money. 200 thousand dollars would be, no doubt, useful to build radios and tv free systems, not to mention lan community houses. In other words, I think that the huge quantity of money would be much better employed in infrastructure for independent media outside of the internet."
And here are my thoughts on the grant:
- Money: I truly respect everyone's passion here for continuing with Indymedia's fiber and meat of carrying on independently from private/commercial enterprise. Although no Indymedia has run independently from $$ (meaning, we've all had to pitch in for projects. We don't get paid but I know I have the privilege of volunteering because I don't go hungry), but I honestly can see how associating Indymedia as a whole to a large foundation like Knight could damage its core Principles of Unity. Then again, funding (let's say from a fundraising party) does help somehow nurture the collective. Boston Indymedia has been able to run without it, yes, but we have in the past held office space, sent people to the Media Reform Conference, not to say bought media equipment for use of the collective as a whole. So bluntly speaking, we are unfortunately living within the capitalist system while fighting against it. The key, I think, is not to become dependent on the
- Autonomy: I also think is very important to respect and nurture the autonomy of Indymedias around the world, and we do so I'm sure many times unconsciously. There's no way to know what/how every single Indymedia is making it work or not. But it's also it's beauty, specially when a collective is trying to meet the needs of its local community. The question is, can a local Indymedia grow and build a horizontal structure, "establish" itself without becoming dependent on the capitalist system? Or are all Indymedias, because of our organic structure, made to grow and shrink, grow and shrink--like the pulsating collective that we are. I do think the autonomy gives us the ability to give both a try...
- Tech Needs: Now, I definitely think Indymedia is going through a tech crisis. In the few years I've been involved, I have seen many Indymedias close and struggle with technology. Boston Indymedia has experienced it acutely as we've had to slowly shut down certain features on our site. As a collective we experienced it with Atlanta Indymedia right before the US Social Forum. So that's definitely a reality we're currently living. And Boston Indymedia is SUCH a low priority when I think of sites like Chiapas Indymedia. Do we have a volunteer tech assistance structure that can sustain us all? Or is part of our problem that as we've grown in size, we are unable to meet all our tech needs?
The sad thing is that Indymedia is so internet-dependent for the dissemination of its news (and I'm not saying this to undermine all the wonderful Indy video, print, and audio projects out there), that our tech crisis has already hurt us deeply. I do feel a sense of urgency. And I do feel terrible for all the Indymedia techs who have given thousands of hours in time (and thousands of their own money), having to face such colossal project(s). So just to be clear, the grant application was done thinking of this wider problem, not just the BIMC, or Philly, or...
- Undermining the IMC-CMS group: Now, I actually AM very worried about this point in particular. And to clarify, we at the BIMC began the grant application without the knowledge that such a group existed and their work these past 3 years. I'm pretty sure other IMCs were also unaware (Australia, Belgium, Austria, although I can't speak directly for them). So while last week I felt the responsibility to go ahead with the grant application because I was responding to 13 (now 14) Indymedias who signed up to this project, I would hate to see any kind of funding benefit one Imc-Cms group over the other. Specially if members of the current Imc-Cms group are opposed to the grant. Just because of this, I would feel uncomfortable going on to the 2nd phase of the grant.
- 200,000 dollars: And for the record, that's the official number. :) I honestly don't think that's a lot of money if we're thinking of our 165 Iocal Indymedias. That's like $1,212 per Indymedia. And I was thinking, $2,000 per Indymedia tech for a whole year's worth of work... It's not a lot of money in the US and Europe, BUT, going back to my second paragraph, it "would be, no doubt, useful to build radios and tv free systems, not to mention lan community houses."
To conclude, I personally *don't* think we should go ahead with the Knight Foundation grant. I *do* think we need some cash to fix our tech problems, as a global collective. And I do think we could ask for donations from organizations/people that meet our goals and mission. And I don't mind paying Indymedia techs for a one-time project of building an or several Imc-Cms and helping other Indymedias install it/them. I honestly think they deserve to be paid, because our media volunteer work depends on them. It's like paying for hardware. :)
With much love to you all,
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