I’m at a media reform activist event at the New America Foundation in Washington DC. This series of panels is sponsored by the Media and Democracy coalition, which is being facilitated by Consumer’s Union.
The first panel this afternoon is on “Telecommunications and Media Around the World.” The star-studded array of panelists included Jonathan Lawson from Reclaim the Media, Jamie Love of the Consumer Project on Technology, Thenmozhi Soundararajan of Third World Majority, and Pete Tridish of Prometheus Radio Project.
The second panel went more local, entitled “From the Ground Up: Grassroots Collaboration and Sustainability.” The panel discussants included Charlene Allen of Funding Exchange, Inja Coates of Media Tank, Jeff Perlstein of Media Alliance, and Patrice Webb of Free Press.
It’s great learning more about the field of media advocacy, from the local to the international levels. I’m inspired by the kind of creative activism being done all over the US, like the “barnraising” efforts of Prometheus Radio to help local groups set up low power FM stations in their communities. The Consumer’s Union website www.hearusnow.org has some great tools for activists, like this cute animated short on the “Tower of Power” and their “share your story” section that has documented now 3,000 anecdotes from people around the United States on their experiences and complaints about various telecommunications providers.
It was also a good experience for me to learn how to message effectively the Public Sphere program of SSRC to a mostly grassroots activist audience. What was gratifying was seeing their eyes light up when I told them what we were offering in terms of brokering collaborative research projects between activists and researchers to answer questions that they define themselves. Everyone I talked to clearly got the need and wanted to know how they could participate — which is a good sign that we are on the right track with the Media Research Hub we are building.
Now we just need to get the bloody Hub built and out there. Until then, we’re just vaporware…