Thorns in the Paw
We know what happened in the corporate media over the last four
years: grossly inaccurate journalism, censorship and dismissals,
directives on what not to report, the dawn of embedded reporting
both abroad and at home, fervently patriotic news anchors, and
more media consolidation. But these trends, however disturbing,
have had a profound effect on independent media, increasing both
the numbers of people creating alternatives and those who want
to consume it. Clamor asked a sampling of independent
media-makers to talk about significant aspects of their work during
the Bush Regime: what they’ve reported on, what’s been
left out, what mark their work has made. As these accounts indicate,
there’s a lot of excitement about independent media right
now and what it’s accomplishing. There’s a vigorous
energy in the air and a powerful sense of compulsion, which will
only grow into the years ahead.
Free Speech Radio News
August 21, 2002. Not a year had passed since the twin towers
thing. Dissent was still largely seen as unacceptable and
un-American in that time of fear (can you remember way back to
I can tell you one thing; I was glad to be living in Portland
that year. There was a large, visible community that wasn’t
fooled. When “President” Bush came to town to
raise money for Republican Senator Gordon Smith’s campaign,
about 1500 of them hit the streets, for so many reasons. I
was reporting for KBOO community radio. The people I interviewed
were upset about the loss of civil liberties, the FTAA, the destruction
of the environment, the sanctions and impending war on Iraq, the
attacks on women’s rights, the neglect of workers’ rights,
and the government’s lucrative partnerships with corporate
giants. The list goes on and on. The people were angry but
not violent. Apparently the police didn’t feel the
vibe. They declared a “state of emergency” and
decided to unleash the pepper spray and the rubber bullets on a
crowd that hadn’t broken any rules. One officer decided
that even though I had been standing in the same spot, behind a
barricade a few feet from him for 20 minutes with a press pass
on, I needed a good spritz of pepper spray right in the eyes. They
decided the same thing for a father and his one and three-year-old
children. As the news spread over indymedia.org, messages
began pouring in from all over:
As I sit here with tears streaming down my face I wish that
I could go there to join my fellow brothers and sisters. Everyone
in Chicago and in the world is so proud of you. Peace.
Please keep this going; Pass it around the world, we must
stop this crazed spoiled child called Bush. He is destroying
the american way of life.
Keep talking y’all. The internet is still up, really
the only tool that might get us thru this shit. Portland rocks!
I love your city! Cheers from Texas, Brian.
I’m afraid this is just the beginning. I’m old
enough to remember the anti-Vietnam War protests, most of which,
just like this one, were peaceful and ended in police violence.
It seems as though it’s 1968, and George Bush is Richard
Nixon. Keep on.
-TR of St. Paul, Mn.
We live in the age of the Internet. The world is watching.
The next day, the people and their lawyers decided to sue the
city and the police. I could have been part of the lawsuit,
but decided to stick with my role as “media.” However,
I submitted my account of the event as evidence. I reported
the story on Free Speech Radio News. The world was not only watching
Over the next few months, the entire planet decided enough was
Editor and co-founder of ¿Hasta Cuándo?
¿Hasta Cuándo? grew out of our belief that
a publication needed to exist including youth and minorities in
the political community to address issues pertinent to them and
their community. This is also why it’s a bilingual publication.
From the beginning, ¿HC?’s purpose was to
inform and work for change. The things that were going on in the
fall of 1999 shaped the first issue. Locally, gentrification was
hitting the neighborhood; Mayor Daley and the City Council were
passing anti-youth ordinances. Nationally, the WTO protest in Seattle
was going on.
Then came the 2000 election, followed by the attendant thievery
and ensuing massacre of our economy, health, environment, and educational
system. The most important topic I have covered during the last
four years has been the Bush Administration.
Bush has disgraced the cover at least four times since the election.
We included a spread of the Bush Cabinet with bios in the issue
that followed the election. In the last issue Bush is the symbol
of death dressed in his flight suit (the one he wore when he declared
the war with Iraq had ended) and helmet in hand. For the next issue
we are focusing on this year’s election.
It is hard to isolate the most important story one has covered
submerged in this climate for the last four years. However, the
political plague of this administration and the repercussions of
their agenda at every level have been the main motive of my writing.
The reason this answer is so general is because we have to see
the damage done in four years by this administration in its context.
From their “election” to the prison abuse scandal in
Iraq, more and more horrors come out that this administration has
conjured from an Orwellian nightmare.
Beginning with the irresponsible, exorbitant tax-cuts and the
massive deficit they created, Bush’s appointments of judges
when the Senate was not in session, the wars, privatization of
the military, and the mess that is Iraq... There are plenty of
examples of crimes against humanity perpetuated by this administration. History
must be recorded from the angle of the other. I have tried to reflect
this in ¿Hasta Cuándo? in the topics we
have covered. In the last four years there has been a steep decline
in the quality of life for everyone. This administration is very
dangerous and it’s obvious that the planet can ill afford
four more years of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Rice, Wolfowitz,
Libby, Thompson, etc.
The NewStandard News
While the Bush Administration scuttles to manipulate the news
coming out of occupied Iraq with the U.S. election quickly approaching,
the need for independent journalism here is more vital than ever
While the corporate media has been forced to acknowledge stories
like the torturing inside Abu Ghraib prison, many of the outlets
continue to apply the spin of “a few bad apples” to
a systemic problem that has been ongoing throughout U.S. detention
facilities in Iraq since the beginning of the occupation.
This is only the most recent example of a phenomenon which drew
me to Iraq last November. I feel now as I did then; in general
the corporate media is failing to report the reality of what is
occurring on the ground in Iraq.
Because of this, there may never have been a time where the need
for investigative independent journalism has been so great. In
Iraq, citizens and soldiers both are continuing to die on a daily
basis while the corporate media continues to report the bungled
speeches of Mr. Bush during the lead up to the June 30 “handover.”
As in the U.S., there is a great disparity in Iraq between what
is really occurring on the ground and what the Western corporate
media chooses to report.
Even with stories of torture dominating television screens throughout
much of May, the mainstream stations seem to be conveniently overlooking
the price Iraqis are paying for the lack of rebuilding: Flickering
electricity as summer temperatures reach up to 140 degrees, an
unemployment rate of 60 percent, gasoline shortages, and a security
situation so horrendous that many women are unable to leave their
homes for fear of being kidnapped, raped, or both.
An informed citizenry forms the basis of a democracy. Not only
are U.S. citizens being deprived of access to information about
the true nature of the critical situation in Iraq, they are being
outright lied to by most of the corporate media outlets.
Thus, independent media holds the responsibility of telling the
stories which the Bush Administration cannot afford to have people
To read the rest of this piece and other great Clamor features,
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