Updates from March, 2011 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Sylvia Moore 12:49 pm on March 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Just Media, , , , , Occidental College,   

    Citizens gather in Los Angeles to take back the media 

    This year’s Just Media: L.A. Media Reform Summit, held Feb. 26 at Occidental College, drew 200 activists, speakers and concerned members of the public for an all-day conference on how to build a better news and information environment for our communities. This was L.A. Media Reform’s fourth summit and was our best attended so far. Marty Kaplan, Director of The Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California kicked off the day with a fascinating talk about how the kinds of news media people consume (public television, cable, or local news) determine their depth of knowledge of current events.

    The afternoon’s panel session, Objectivity vs. Hate Speech & Fear-Mongering, featured Leslie Berestein Rojas, who writes KPCC’s Multi-American blog; Rick Jacobs, chair and founder of the Courage Campaign; Amanda Garces and Pedro Espinoza of the Mobile Voices Project; and Shakeel Syed, Executive Director of the Islamic Shura Council. Will Coley, L.A. Media Reform member and and founder of Aquifer Media, moderated the panel. The panelists engaged in a lively discussion about the corrosive effects of hate speech in the media that targets immigrants, religious minorities and people of color.

    Attendees then fanned out into various workshops focusing on issues as diverse as public radio, blogs and the Internet, net neutrality, broadband and independent filmmaking. Our evening speaker, Beth McConnell, Executive Director of the Media & Democracy Coalition, closed with an inspiring talk encouraging citizens to create their own media to better inform their communities. Attendees later gathered at a networking reception featuring delicious hors d’oeuvres from Oxy’s student catering club, Well Fed. I hope that this year’s summit inspired more people to make improving our media climate a top priority, and helped them come up with ideas about how to use alternative media to make their voices heard.

    See Will Coley’s photos from the summit in his previous blog post from Feb. 28.

    We’d like to thank the following folks who helped make the 2011 Just Media Summit a success:

    Speakers: Marty Kaplan, Leslie Berestein Rojas, Rick Jacobs, Amanda Garces, Pedro Espinoza, Shakeel Syed, Allison de Fren, Will Coley, William Swaim, Wendy Block, Michael Sigman, Dick Price, Sharon Kyle, the Spin Busters! and the Billionaires, Sue Wilson, Ron Cooper, Koverboyz, Dr. Katie Mills, Juan Devis, Justin Cram, Sean McLaughlin, Beth McConnell, Rick Staggenborg, MD, Gavin Dahl, Damien Newton, Tony Arranaga, Chris Kidd, Siel Ju, LaJuan Johnson, Sadie Dean, Candice Rodrigo, Shani Byard-Ngunjiri, Mera Szendro Bok

    Our sponsors: California Common Cause, the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College, L.A. Progressive, Aquifer Media, The Benton Foundation, Center for Governmental Studies, Peoples College of Law, Uptown Gay & Lesbian Alliance, Urban Organizer, Media Alliance, ACLU Pasadena-Foothills Chapter, Valle Music Reproduction, LA Beez

    And…

    Occidental College for hosting

    The L.A. Media Reform Planning Committee: Amanda Shaffer, Will Coley, Dick Price, Sharon Kyle, Tapia Martinez-Russ and Sylvia Moore for putting this whole event together,

    Anjuli Kronheim, Los Angeles Organizer, California Common Cause and liaison to the L.A. Media Reform Planning Committee for her top-notch networking skills,

    Tapia Martinez-Russ and her music partner for providing the lovely entertainment,

    Well Fed for providing the delicious refreshments,

    Our wonderful volunteers for helping us set up, and all the members of the public who attended!

     
    • Warner Cowett 11:23 pm on August 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.- Ecclesiastes 9:10

    • Edgar Fees 11:24 pm on August 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Love is patient, love is kind, Love does not insist on its own way. Love bears all things, believes all things, Hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.- I Corinthians 13:4-8

    • Remy 2:17 pm on September 20, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      If anyone can help point me in the right direction, I’d like to get involved. I recently launched Tiklar – a citizen journalist site at http://tiklar.com – I would like to see how I could partner for a 2012 event. Thanks.

  • Sylvia Moore 5:16 pm on August 24, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Al Franken Calls Net Neutrality “Biggest Issue Since Freedom of Religion” 

    Video of Sen. Al Franken’s speech at last week’s Federal Communications Commission hearing on net neutrality:

     
  • Sylvia Moore 1:33 pm on August 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , blogging, , , , minorities, , , ,   

    Bloggers of Color Speak Out at Netroots Nation 

    For the past decade, political bloggers have become important watchdogs and critics of the mainstream media. But the blogosphere is largely white and upper-middle class. Writers who don’t fit into that mold are diligently building up a Web presence, gaining influence and slowly changing how communities of color are perceived. Five DailyKos bloggers representing the African-American, Latino and Native American communities spoke at the Netroots Nation conference on a panel called Promoting People of Color in the Progressive Blogosphere. The bloggers talked about how they got started as political “ranters,” the unique challenges they face as bloggers of color, and the rewards that come with writing about issues they are passionate about. The featured speakers, named here by their DailyKos handles, were: Black Kos, shanikka, navajo, TexMex, and Deoliver47. Watch the entire panel below:

     
  • Sylvia Moore 1:07 pm on July 28, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Institute of Popular Education, , , Mobile Voices, , Voces Moviles, VozMob, , ZeroDivide   

    Netroots Nation Panel on Bridging the Digital Divide 

    How can the poor, who often have limited or no access to the Internet, become content providers on the Web? What’s being done to help those who can’t afford computers get their concerns and messages across over the Internet? These issues and more were discussed last week at the Netroots Nation panel Building a National Broadband Plan: How Activists in California Are Bridging the Digital Divide. Featured speakers were Sasha Constanza-Chock, founder of VozMob (Voces Moviles, Mobile Voices); Madelou Gonzalez, a VozMob member and volunteer for the Institute of Popular Education of Southern California; Amalia Deloney, Grassroots Policy Director for the Center for Media Justice; and Ruth Williams, Community Investment Officer for ZeroDivide. LA Media Reform’s own Will Coley served as moderator. Watch the entire session below:

     
    • Amanda 2:55 pm on August 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Nice! I hope we can get some of those (all!) speakers at our upcoming summit… Access to Broadband as topic for our panel?

      As stated above, barriers to broadband include access and affordability…”One of the more hidden barriers is relevancy. For people to desire broadband generally, they must understand why it’s important to have it. This understanding is strongest when people become generators and producers of their own content. We found that content’s level of sophistication and the type of content is less important than the times people create. So the amount of time you spend creating, the amount of things that you do create, is more important to your understanding and desire for broadband. ”

      Maybe a nice tie-in with all of our media-creating workshops!

      • Sylvia 9:07 pm on August 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, I agree, this would make a good workshop.

  • Sylvia Moore 12:42 pm on July 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Color of Change, , , , , , Poker Players Alliance, political activism   

    Netroots Nation Panel on Internet Freedom 

    Everyone who uses the Web for social networking, political action and entertainment should be concerned that the major telecommunications companies wish to get their grubby hands on the reins of the Internet so they can start gouging consumers more than they already do. Having a free and open Internet is essential for grassroots political activists who use the blogosphere to express alternative points of view shut out of the mainstream media. Last weekend’s Netroots Nation conference featured a panel on net neutrality, also known as Internet Freedom. The panel, called Protecting Rights in the Digital Realm, included Amalia Deloney, Grassroots Policy Director for the Center for Media Justice; Andy Bloch of the Poker Players Alliance; and James Rucker, co-founder of ColorofChange.org.

     
  • Sylvia Moore 11:53 am on June 11, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , house judiciary committee, ,   

    Proposed Comcast Takeover of NBC Universal Will Hurt Diversity, Critics Say 

    It was a telling moment. At a public hearing this past Monday, Rep. Maxine Waters, whose district encompasses a predominantly minority area of south Los Angeles, ticked off the names of NBC’s new fall season shows and the number of actors and producers of color on each. The paucity of representation was pretty obvious.

    Waters and other members of the House Judiciary Committee held the hearing at the California Science Center in Los Angeles to hear from Hollywood producers, cable executives, academics and others about Comcast’s proposed merger with NBC Universal. Some of the panelists expressed fear that the merger would result in fewer opportunities for minorities in the entertainment business and therefore, fewer outlets to have their stories told. Other panelists, mainly television executives, were supportive of the merger, saying that Comcast has a proven commitment to diverse programming. It was a standing room only crowd inside the center’s Donald P. Loker Conference Center, where lawmakers took testimony from 11 witnesses. Interestingly, although NBCU sent several representatives to the hearing, Comcast sent none. Besides Waters, the lawmakers included her fellow Democrats, Judiciary Chairman John Conyers from Michigan, Rep. Judy Chu of San Gabriel, and Rep. Steve Cohen from Tennessee, and Republican Rep. Louis Gohmert from Texas.

    “I think this an historic moment in the economic life of this country,” said Conyers, after commenting on the surge in mergers and takeovers in the last 30 years of rapid deregulation. I don’t know if this is an historic moment. It’ll probably be more like business as usual. I got the feeling that this hearing was more of a dog and pony show than anything meaningful, because I fear this deal is going to go through, no matter what the public thinks. Only the 11 witnesses got to speak and interact with the lawmakers; there was no session for members of the public to comment. One witness, Samuel Kang of the non-profit public policy organization, The Greenlining Insitute, was critical of what he felt was a dearth of public input about the proposed merger. Kang, an opponent of the merger, said that the Federal Communications Commission itself has yet to have a public hearing about the deal. However, Waters said that at the urging of lawmakers, the FCC extended the public comment period for 45 more days.

    Waters’ spotlight on the near white-wash of the NBC fall shows was a highlight of Monday’s hearing, which was heavily focused on how the proposed merger may affect diversity within the entertainment business. I realize being in Los Angeles that we’re in the middle of Hollywood, but I still would’ve like to have heard more witnesses touch on how further consolidation could negatively affect newsgathering. Yes, we like our entertainment in L.A., and I’m not happy that a lot of television shows don’t reflect America’s demographics. But there are also a lot of us who are also concerned about how local news stations in this city aren’t serving residents very well, and that this merger may make things worse. Kang spoke about the news a little bit, asserting that media consolidation has resulted in a gutting of local news coverage and staff in several major cities, particularly in Spanish-speaking markets.

    Nevertheless, the conversation was eye-opening. Chu stated that the 8-9PM so-called “family hour” on television is the least ethnically diverse. She added that 40% of primetime series have only Caucasian characters, and that 80% of series are white-themed. This compares with a nation that is roughly one-third minorities, and California that is 53% people of color. The number of minorities behind the camera and in management are pretty dismal. Waters stated that in 2007, minorities owned 3.2% of U.S. television stations and only 7% of full power radio stations. When questioned by Waters, Paula Madison, Executive Vice President for Diversity at NBCU, said there are only seven minority co-executive producers associated with five of the 18 new fall shows. Of all of NBC’s showrunners – a series’ lead producer – none are African-American. Gee, no wonder my viewing habits have begun shifting away from scripted dramas and comedies.

    Several participants talked a lot about how many shows with predominantly minority cast members have disappeared over the last decade as consolidation stripped creative control away from once powerful independent producers. Former Motown executive Suzanne de Passe, who is currently co-chair of de Passe Jones Entertainment, said consolidation has slowed down opportunities for minority program development.

    “We have gone backwards,” de Passe said. “The question is why?” She said that unlike in the past, independent producers are now required by mega-media conglomerates to give up ownership and creative control of the shows they pitch. Plus, they’re paid less than they used to be. De Passe added that black executives have never had the power to “greenlight” – give permission to proceed on a project. “We need greenlight power. The power to say ‘yes,’” she said. She said Comcast has the opportunity and resources to change this kind of institutional racism.

    Other witnesses rejected the merger plan outright. Stanley Washington, chairman and CEO of the National Coalition of African American Owned Media, said that none of the 250+ channels on Comcast’s platform are 100% minority-owned, and called for a boycott of the company. Accusing Comcast of perpetuating a virtual apartheid, Washington said, “African-Americans are no longer interested in living on the Comcast plantation.” Washington verbally jousted with merger supporters Alfred C. Liggins III, President and CEO of Radio One Inc., and Will Griffin, President and COO of Hip Hop On Demand. Griffin defended Comcast by saying that minorities have the best leverage with the company. He added that the reason why shows with predominantly African-American casts have gone away is because advertisers aren’t willing to pay for a lot of slots on black-themed shows. Liggins and Griffin, who are both black, took issue with Washington’s assertion that for a company to be considered “minority-owned,” a person of color must own 100% of said company, rather than simply a majority stake.

    Alex Nogales, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and Kathryn Galan, Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, said they wanted to see Comcast be more proactive in addressing the problem of minority underrepresentation. Calling Comcast’s record on diversity “spotty,” Nogales specifically wanted the merger deal to contain “enforceable conditions” regarding employment, procurement, governance, programming and philanthropy. Madison, the NBCU exec, said that Comcast has a plan in place to improve workforce recruitment, supplier diversity and community investment. She also said she has received letters from 230 organizations in support of the merger. I’d like to know how many of those organizations received money from Comcast.

    None of the lawmakers – especially free-market fanatic, Gohmert – expressed overt opposition to Comcast’s proposed takeover of NBCU. But some maintained a large dose of skepticism about the deal, especially Waters, who insisted that the merger not be rushed through without close scrutiny. Watch her speak below:

    It remains to be seen whether testimony from opponents will have any sway over the FCC, the Justice Department or Congress. Conyers said there will be more hearings in the future. The question should be whether we want fewer and fewer people running ever bigger companies deciding what we see and hear on our television sets, radios and on the Web. Common sense will tell you that the fewer people making decisions, the more homogenous the output. The new fall shows across the broadcast networks continue to follow the same pattern of medical, cop and legal dramas. Even a lot of cable channels don’t seem to have the unique signature they once had, as more of the programming seem to copy one another. For example, Bravo (owned by NBCU) used to be the classical arts channel, and TLC (owned by Discovery) used to be an educational channel. Both have completely abandoned those original missions in favor of 24-hour reality TV. They should just combine to become The Reality Channel. I thought the new Planet Green channel (owned by Discovery) was supposed to be all about ecological programming, but it includes in its lineup a show about a restaurant that trains former felons in new skills to help them turn their lives around. It’s an inspiring show, but what does it have to do with the environment? Even the History Channel (owned by A&E Television Networks) has shows that have nothing to do with history, like Ice Road Truckers and Pawn Stars.

    People, including entertainers of color in Hollywood, have a right to be alarmed about this merger. Comcast’s supporters would like us to believe that they are fully committed to diversity, but it’s a business like any other whose primary goal is to make a profit. And the larger the company, the bigger the profit motive. The bigger the profit motive, the more incentive there is to cater to the broadest tastes possible, to downplay what makes human beings different, and to avoid taking risks on the unique and the original. Shows that can get the most amount of eyeballs in order to attract the most amount of advertising dollars usually get the green light. Chasing profits doesn’t bode well for diversity.

    You can access the hearing’s full witness list along with links to their written testimony here. To comment on the proposed merger, go to the FCC’s public comments web page. The proceeding number is 10-56: “In the Matter of Application of Comcast Corporation General Electric Company and NBC Universal Inc. for consent to assign license or transfer control of licensees.”

     
  • Will Coley 7:04 pm on November 19, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: CauseCast, training, ,   

    LA Media Reform trains new “Video Activists” in November 

    Many thanks to a great group of participants in our November Video Activism training sessions! Special thanks to Harmonie Tangonan of CauseCast who was our guest speaker on the first Saturday.  Stay tuned for a screening event for all these great videos!

     
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