[Payment-discuss] Payment-discuss Digest, Vol 2, Issue 24

Sheri Herndon sheri at speakeasy.net
Thu Feb 15 21:26:14 PST 2007

i believe bmedia is correct in saying that the discussion around  
501c3 or nonprofit status is also connected to this money  
discussion.  i don't think that it would do us good if all we ever  
discussed was whether to pay people or not within indymedia.  we will  
have this many imcs thinking this way and this many thinking that way  
and we will not have resolved this conflict.  we will have a better  
picture of who thinks what, but we also are pretty narrowly defining  
the terms.

however, i think we are treading far from the clear ground of  
understanding when we start to say that the ucimc is a corporation.   
please.  there is a big difference between using the legal structures  
that we currently operate in to receive certain benefits that have  
been partially described already on this list, and those of for  
profit corporations which serve their shareholders at the expense of  
their workers, the planet and the future.

i have worked within nonprofit structures that had a legal structure  
that required them to have a board and a president and a chair, etc.,  
but all the while, the real decision-making was happening in working  
groups and via some form of consensus-based decision-making.  this is  
admittedly not easy to do and maintain and the pacifica example is  
our example of caution (where a board took over a community-based  
media network)....but that is no reason to think that what we are not  
doing in the course of all that is to create new forms within the old  
structures.  this is also like the phoenix rising.

ucimc has raised money on behalf of the global network for years now  
and it is a direct result of their nonprofit status that they have  
done this as easily as they have.  IF people had a problem with this  
at any point, they could refuse to receive these funds.  but no,  
people take the money because they can use it for good.  and it this  
fact that we must also acknowledge.

probably the last 30,000 USD that came through the global bank  
account was given to indymedia because someone could make an  
anonymous tax-deductible donation.  (yes of course people could still  
make a donation to some bank account to indymedia but this does make  
it easier for people who have 10,000 or more to donate....)

there are dangers and valid concerns with being a 501c3 and with  
paying people.  but no more than there are concerns for other imcs  
who may be operating in certain ways that others might find  
distasteful as well - the way they treat newcomers or outsiders or  
people who think differently than they do.  there are local imcs  
throughout this network who are operate as small fiefdoms.  and  
please don't act as if this surprises you.  it's true.  this has been  
the case for a long time.  it has to do with power and the  
centralization of power even at the local level.  people don't like  
giving up or sharing control.  i would say that there are more checks  
and balances in a structure like ucimc than there are in other  
completely autonomous collectives who act as though they do not have  
to abide by any of the principles of unity or membership criteria  
that they don't like.  i've heard enough stories over the last 7  
years to write a small novella about these things.

none of these stories ever really made it to the indymedia internal  
headlines.  maybe because as long as it wasn't moving into a  
widespread mode that might effect other local imcs, it needn't be  
raised up.  and because we all hold such a strong value around local  

these things upset me as much as it upsets some of you to hear that  
some people are being paid to do "indymedia" work.


On Feb 15, 2007, at 6:01 PM, bmedia at riseup.net wrote:

> i have a couple of thoughts on this:
> Quoting Michelle Shumate <shumate at uiuc.edu>:
>> A club or any association who wants to have official status
>> under Illinois state law must be incorporated
> [snip]
> yes. probably. i guess i'm just questioning the wisdom of seeking
> "official status" at all. which brings me to this....
>> However, I would note that our designations under tax code and IL  
>> state laws
>> seem to be tangential to the issues that this list was set up to  
>> discuss.
> perhaps. but i think this is an important facet of the conversation.
> i'm mindful that this sounds like an axe grinding against UC. the
> truth is, though, UC has taken some turns that lots of well-meaning
> NGOs have taken. in my opinion, these are illustrations of traps that
> the system lays out for us, in order to keep us from making too many
> waves. i do not want to see the rest of indy fall into those traps. i
> guess that's my interest in this conversation.
>> This forum was set up to talk about payment of individuals for  
>> indymedia
>> work and other issues of payment.  [snip]  Payment of individuals  
>> does not
>> automatically lead to these statuses, as these statuses don't lead  
>> to the
>> payment of individuals.
> i think the connection is that it seems to only be those IMCs who have
> followed the corporate model that seem to have any interest in paying
> people. it seems like a package deal. so while payment of individuals
> does not automatically lead to these statuses, the evidence suggests
> that these statuses encourage a desire to emulate corporate
> structure...leading to a desire for payment for this work.
> Cat
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“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change  
something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete… 
We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.”  – R.  
Buckminster Fuller

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