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Media Hero: DeeDee Halleck

For DeeDee Halleck, electronic media's attraction is its power to invigorate participatory democracy—a power vested in the use of the tools as much as in the programs produced. In four decades as a filmmaker, teacher, and activist, she has helped place new technologies—from home video and cable television to the Internet and digital satellite broadcasting—in the hands of social movements and regular folks. Along the way, she has inspired generations of grassroots media activists.

Halleck's long resume parallels the history of community broadcasting in the U.S. She helped found a string of grassroots media initiatives, including the public access cable series Paper Tiger TV (papertiger.org); the nation's first grassroots community television network, Deep Dish TV (deepdishtv.org); and the very first Independent Media Center in Seattle.

In the late 1970s, as president of the Association of Independent Video and Film Makers, she campaigned to allow independent producers and community media makers easier access to public television. Thanks to that campaign, we have “sunshine” rules that make public TV and radio stations accountable to their communities and requirements for modest funding support of independent productions.

Now officially retired from a professorship at the University of California, San Diego, Halleck is apparently as busy as ever—maintaining connections with media policy activists in the U.S. and abroad, and producing for Deep Dish, including a new series of programs on the Iraq war titled Shocking and Awful. She continues to inspire others with seemingly inexhaustible creativity and commitment.

It was Halleck who first suggested transforming the radio news program Democracy Now! into a daily TV broadcast. “DeeDee makes us all believe that everything is possible,” host Amy Goodman remembers. “There is no ‘no' to DeeDee. Everything is just a creative challenge for her.”


Jonathan Lawson co-directs Reclaim the Media (www.reclaimthemedia.org) in Seattle. Learn more about Dee Dee Halleck at her website, www.deedeehalleck.org

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