Friday, April 14, 2006

"Never underestimate the power of your own voice"

Mike and I have picked three items to note from Democracy Now! instead of our usual two. We'll probably only be commenting on two but the third item is an announcement. I was asked why sometimes the items are in the same order on both our sites and sometimes they aren't? That's our 'editorial' call. If, after deciding on the items, we don't agree on which should be the lead item, we have a different order. There are no hard feelings when that happens. In addition, if we're each commenting on only one headline (with the other picking up the other) we'll lead with whichever headline we're individually covering. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's commentary.

"RAF Doctor Jailed For Refusing Iraq Service" (Democracy Now!):
In Britain, a doctor in the Royal Air Force has been sentenced to eight months in jail for refusing to go to Iraq. Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith maintained he is refusing his assignment in order to not take part in an illegal war. "Now more so than ever he feels that his actions were totally justified and he would not if placed in the same circumstances seek to do anything differently," Justin Hugheston-Roberts, the lawyer representing Kendall-Smith, said after the sentencing.

"And the war drags on . . . (Indymedia Roundup)" went up late (which is usual due to the number of e-mails C.I. has to read to pull that entry together) and I missed it last night, but Sunny hit me with the news of Dr. Kendall-Smith as soon as I walked into the office. When we listened to Democracy Now! during lunch and heard it, it still floored me. The presiding officer/judge of the court martial refused to allow the issue of the war to be raised.

How can you explain why you refused to serve without addressing your beliefs regarding the war itself? You can't. The moment that was disallowed, he was convicted. We didn't need to wait for the verdict. I knew that.

But hearing of the verdict from Sunny and then during the broadcast, I was still floored. On some level, I must have been hoping that it could turn out differently (no matter how practical I thought I was being). Friday's are usually a bright day for me due to the fact that the week is over (I'm just as glad to have a week behind me and a weekend facing me as anyone else). But this was a topic that Sunny and I returned to between patients throughout the day. At one point, I asked how things were going with the delivery man she's seeing and we spoke of that but it didn't manage to lift either of our moods. (Things are going well between them.)

I might have started the weekend off on a foul note were it not for the fact that Sunny printed up C.I.'s Democracy Now! entry which included news from members outside the United States noting how the verdict has actually started discussions that were not going on (for some people) prior and that it had upped the level of discussion among people who were already discussing it.

While that does nothing to help the doctor, it does help the dialogue and, hopefully, the next resister. His attempted legal stance was a brave one and, in the end, the fact that he was not allowed to argue it didn't silence it. It's being discussed and debated without being sanctioned by the court martial.

"California TV Station To Stop Using VNRs" (Democracy Now!):
In an update on a story we have been tracking, a major California television station has announced it will no longer use material from video news releases in any news reports. Last week the Center for Media and Democracy revealed at least 77 TV stations around the country have been caught airing corporate-sponsored propaganda disguised as news releases in the past 10 months. One of these stations was KCBS, Channel 2 in Los Angeles. On January 27 the station aired an edited video news release promoting the child-safe Internet search engine for the company NetTrekker. The station used part of the script and video provided by the company without revealing its source. On Wednesday the management at KCBS announced it was barring the use of video news releases.

The glass is at the half-way mark. The "half empty" argument is that only one channel has bothered to publicly state that they will no longer air them. The "half-full" argument is that one station has stepped up to the plate (and possibly more will do so later on). I'll leave to you to figure out where you stand on it.

"Immigrant Rights Coalition Calls for One Day Boycott, Walk-Out" (Democracy Now!):
A coalition of groups advocating for immigrant rights are calling for a massive one-day job and economic boycott to take place May 1st. Some are calling the event "A Day Without Immigrants." Organizers are calling on immigrants to refuse to work or spend any money on May Day to protest moves in Congress to criminalize undocumented workers. In recent weeks millions of immigrants and their supporters have taken to the streets in an unprecedented wave of protests.

This is the item we wanted to note. Consider it an announcement and something you should particpate in if you have the chance. Thanks to C.I. for giving me the heads up last weekend so I could clear my calendar. I will be participating and encourage everyone else who is able to do so as well. If you don't feel that immigrant rights apply to you, then do it show solidarity.

I'm just going to answer a few questions that have popped up in the e-mails. One guy who wants to make it clear that he's not part of the community and that he supports the Bully Boy wrote to say that Rebecca "and others" are covering Pacifica but that C.I. doesn't. Democracy Now! is covered every Monday through Friday at The Common Ills at least once. In addition, C.I. works it into more than one entry a day. Ruth writes a weekly report on Pacifica at The Common Ills. If members note programming highlights that will air that day, they are noted at the site as well.

C.I. added Democracy Now! to get away from the worship of the mainstream that is so common. The problem, however, is that one station is listened to by C.I. (over the airwaves). To note individual programming on that station would be seen by some as an endorsement and they'd wonder why their favorite station wasn't noted? When Pacifica offers special live coverage of Congress or whatever, C.I. will also note that. There is no question that The Common Ills gets the word out on Pacifica. (And in the "And the war drags on . . ." entries, you'll frequently see a Pacifica newscast noted.) C.I.'s trying to get the word out on Pacifica and occupies a different position in the community then the rest of us do. To put it in Pacifica terms, C.I. is the community's Amy Goodman. To say, "Listen to ___" would be seen as an endorsement of one over the other. C.I.'s made it clear that your first choice in Pacifica should always be a station that broadcasts in your area (if you're lucky enough to live in an area that has a broadcast station -- either one of the five stations or an affeliate). Even leaving out Ruth's wonderful reports, if you went through and counted links and mentions, you would find more at The Common Ills than you would at any other site. I'm a "floater." This week, I noted special programming ( WBAI's special broadcast of Beckett's Waiting for Godot which aired Monday night -- if you missed it, you can use the archives to hear it). Rebecca's respected in the community as a take-no-prisoners, call it the way she sees it voice. She's a great voice. (She's also one of my best friends.) But she occupies a different place within the community and she uses her position very effectively. Rebecca deserves praise for what she does.

But it's a mistake to state that C.I.'s not covering or to look at the move to increase coverage at other sites as reflecting poorly on The Common Ills because C.I. 's the one who raised this issue with us. Both to try to help Ruth out so she's not stuck covering everything and also because if we support indymedia, we need to get behind it and show support. The community is welcoming to the hearing impaired and visually imparied members. When two couples, each have a legally blind partner, asked about audio (so that they weren't just reading the commentary C.I. makes and the excerpts at the site), C.I. began adding additional audio links besides Democracy Now! An audio program is something that the couples can listen to together. NPR is even on the audio links and that's due to the fact that, regardless of what C.I. thinks of it, it does provide an option for members where one partner is visually impaired. C.I. does not link to audio links that require someone pay a fee to listen. That's to factor in the members on fixed incomes.

The visitor and I will never agree on the Bully Boy. (I am impressed that despite the fact that he disagrees with close to everything that goes up at any of the community sites, he continues to read them.) But I hope that we can agree that there's a misunderstanding of what The Common Ills does and how C.I. makes decisions. Also remember that Kat covers KPFA's Guns and Butter and that Cedric and Mike WBAI's Law and Disorder?

Lucy, a community member, asks if I could pick one show to note? I don't want to do that. For various reasons. One reason is that listening live during the day is something that pops up when I have a cancellation. Otherwise, I only hear Democracy Now! (which Sunny and I listen to during the lunch hour). I'd prefer not to pin myself down to one program. I also think that by floating, I can grab more than one show over time. Lucy suggested a show and I will try to catch it next week and note it. If I was covering only one show, I'd have to say, "I'm sorry, but I cover ___."

I'll note a moment of panic today during Democracy Now! that Sunny and I both had. Amy Goodman was coughing and had to take a break. Before she came back, Sunny and I were both pointing out that the show broadcasts not far from ground zero in NYC and remembering this item from Thursday:

"Report: 15,000 Suffer From Medical Problems in NYC Post 9/11" (Democracy Now!):
In other news, the BBC is reporting the number of victims suffering medical problems in connection to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center has risen to at least 15,000 people. The US government has been hit with a class-action lawsuit that alleges it offered false assurances to Manhattan residents and workers that the air was safe in the aftermath of the attacks. In a landmark ruling, a New Jersey coroner said this week that a police officer's death was "directly linked" to his work at Ground Zero after 9/11. The officer, James Zadroga, died in January.

When she came back, she explained that she had a spring cold. (I think that probably comes from the fact that she's all over the country, getting the word out, covering news and doing outreach work for community media.) We both sighed in relief when she said that. Amy Goodman, who celebrated a birthday Thursday, does so much for indymedia and, if you found yourself worried in that moment, do your part to get the word out or do your part to get the word out because she had a birthday. But get the word out. Twenty years from now, due to further media consolidation (I think it will happen short of a major citizen revolution), the media landscape will have changed. I also think it's true that, twenty years from now, we'll see hundreds of Amy Goodmans because she's made a difference and she's demonstrated the role that journalists can and should play. She's altered the landscape and become a role model.

The visitor who disagrees with everything he finds at community sites continues to read. He's also started watching Democracy Now! on his local cable access channel -- a direct result, he states, of the emphasis this community has placed upon the program. If you think getting the word out doesn't matter, you're underestimating the power of your own voice. Let's make that the peace quote. (By the way, the visitor noted I mistyped the peace quote Wednesday in the heading. He's correct.)

"Peace Quote"
Never underestimate the power of your own voice.