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Independent DIY media projects are spreading around the planet at unprecedented speed. Triggered by discontent with the mainstream media and supported by the widespread availability of media technologies, groups all over the world are creating their own channels of information and distribution in order to bypass the (mainstream) corporate media. The idea behind most of these projects is to create open platforms to which everyone can contribute - not only a small media elite with their particular interests. By eliminating the classic division between professional producers and passive audience, many issues and discussions that were previously suppressed become visible and available.
The media \xB4platforms\xB4 used are as diverse as the people involved. Independent publications are produced in most regions of the world. One prominent example here in the UK is the weekly news sheet Schnews http://www.schnews.org.uk
. Meanwhile, community and pirate radio stations are re-conquering the airwaves, being the only means of distributing information in many parts of the world. Video has become a particularly DIY-friendly technology, with some groups, such as the Brazilian TV Viva, organising open screenings in public places, and others, such as the German AK Kraak, producing regular video news shows. In countries with public access TV, groups such as the New York collective Paper Tiger compile videos as a TV show and screen them via public access slots. Elsewhere, other groups are starting to screen videos over the Internet - watch out, for example, for Pirate TV which is produced by the video collective Undercurrents. The Internet has many more alternative news and info sites to offer, from the grassroots noticeboard a-infos (Alternative News service) http://www.ainfos.ca
to the slightly larger non-governmental-organization (NGO) focused Oneworld http://www.oneworld.net
Reporting large scale events
Digitalisation allows a combination of all these media platforms. And it makes real-time reporting of major events possible - with the integrated use of mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras and email. The global anti-capitalism protests on June 18th 1999 saw the first co-ordinated attempt by DIY media groups to provide rapid reporting of large scale events both in London and across the globe. With London acting as an international media hub, a mixture of pictures, text reports, audio and video from around the world were posted to the j18.org http://www.j18.org
and the http://www.reclaimthestreets.net
websites, painting an inspiring picture of simultaneous grassroots action in over 40 countries, with the kind of raw direct coverage that the corporate media dreams of being speedily relayed across the planet. While the site suffered from a lack of still images, video and audio coverage was streamed live out over the Internet throughout the day; with corporate websites like FT.com (The Financial Times) relaying the stream directly from their front-page! The reaction from corporate media was one of astonishment, with networks like CNN contacting the London Media Centre to ask just how it had all been achieved!
This DIY media reporting concept was taken a stage further during the large-scale mobilizations against the World Trade Organization in Seattle in November 1999. While the actions were again global, the Seattle \xB4Independent Media Center' (IMC) concentrated on providing a wealth of Seattle reports in all formats through the innovative use of a completely open publishing system. This allowed anyone with Internet access to upload either text, still images, audio or video files directly to the reporting website. With the actions spanning several days people could directly communicate and record their experiences on to the website, building not only one of the most complete records of political dissent ever, but also providing a valuable voice amidst all the chaos and smoke; in a few days the Seattle IMC site had received over 1.5 million \xB4hits\xB4 from around the world.
From April 16-18th 2000, the same model was used in Washington DC, USA, to provide extensive coverage of the mobilizations against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Again the protests were global. The scale of the coverage provided by Washington IMC of events in their own city was astounding. While many corporate news networks were reporting the restraint of the police, visitors to the Washington IMC could both see the images and hear the sounds of peaceful men and women being beaten, tear-gassed, and viciously attacked with pepper spray.
A growing network
Since the anti-WTO actions in Seattle several other IMCs have been established in America using the Seattle IMC as a model. And finally on May 1st 2000 the name Indymedia moved across the Atlantic to London. Indymedia (IMC) UK covered the Mayday actions in London and other places in the UK and introduced some fresh approaches to reporting large actions - most importantly the \xB4Public Access Terminals\xB4 physically situated in the middle of the action, making it a true street media project and empowering everyone present to communicate their own experiences and views, live and direct. Now having created a large compendium of experiences and accounts of Mayday, we have begun to report on other actions in order to make visible some of the events and issues which are usually suppressed by the corporate media.
New indymedia groups continue to appear in the US on a monthly basis. And new European IMCs have been created in Brussels, Italy and France; and another one is planned for Prague in September (the links are on the front-page of this website). All these groups are working together; building new alliances; and are well on the way to creating their own sustainable global independent media network.
- this document was created in an ongoing process, this version appeared on the old "active" imc-uk site on 8 Apr 2003 -
- 08 Apr 2003