Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The National Conference for Media Reform

by Sarah Kuck

One week ago I was up to my ears in grassroots media reform panels, speakers, booths, pamphlets and flyers. Besides the onslaught of mind-opening information the attendees received daily, the sights, sounds, smells and rich history of Memphis helped to solidify the feeling of the people’s movement.

Whether it was placed strategically or spontaneously the weekend before Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the city in which he lost his life, the Conference’s timing and location helped to form a bridge between the energy and enthusiasm of the 1960s civil rights movement to today’s human rights movement. With 3,000+ attendees and 2,000+ watching via YouTube and the like, this weekend’s National Conference for Media Reform was a smorgasbord for the senses; my brain was swimming in the seemingly collective thought that change IS possible.

We were journalists, radio hosts, publishers, bloggers and people just plain angry that a handful of corporations have been allowed to be in command of almost all of the media that most people read, see, hear, and consequently think.

We were as different as the causes that brought us to Memphis. As Seattle-based nonprofit organization Reclaim the Media says, media reform should be your second issue. From political reformers to anarchists and environmentalist to feminists, we have all realized the importance of media reform. As members of the public, not only are we tired of having an unaccountable media, but we’re also tired of the mainstream media obscuring or even censoring our voices and point of views. No matter what their passion, they knew that until something is done to allow people to express their thoughts freely, their issue will not receive attention. And they felt that with out public knowledge of the situation, change will not be possible.

The feeling at the Conference was one of solidarity. Everyone was there for each other, fighting for the same goal: stop big media, return the media to the people. Throughout the conference I connected with people who were frustrated with the way the world is working–oppression, discrimination, unnecessary violence, domination–but everyone I met had two things in common, they had hope and they had a plan to make something happen. I was so impressed and inspired. We were all there because we believe we can be the change we wish to see, and that a different way is possible.

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