Art McGee on Tue, 15 Jul 2003 18:41:43 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> MEDIA JUSTICE: A Declaration of Media Independence

A Declaration of Media Independence

Media Justice: Media for All the People

Media filled with stereotypical and demeaning imagery. Media
that denies our basic humanity and renders us invisible.
Media that promotes and justifies our oppression and murder.
Too few outlets from which to tell our stories, to speak
truth to power. The connections between media -- its form,
content, and who owns it -- is inextricably tied to issues
of social justice, power, and equity. From the
criminalization of youth and immigrants to the so-called
"War on Terrorism," the mainstream media has continued it's
historical role as a willing propaganda machine for
corporate interests, and has blocked dialogue and debate on
the publicly owned airwaves. Communication is a human right,
yet our communities are denied this fundamental right every
day. This will not change until we hold all institutions,
public and private, to a higher standard of accountability,
one that ensures that media serves the needs of all the

We hold this truth to be self-evident, that people of color
are members of an ongoing continuum of struggle for fair and
just media: from the indigenous and enslaved peoples who
fought to speak in the shadow of genocide, to the historic
fight to develop and sustain independent ethnic newspapers,
to the courageous organizers who stood up for fair
television coverage in the '60s, to the public access
battles of the '70s, to the cyberspace and multimedia
pioneers of the '80s and '90s, to the thousands who recently
marched, protested, and sat-in to challenge increasing media
concentration, people of color are the most critical
indicator of how democratic media really is. Today, Media
Justice organizers are working to build meaningful
participation from communities of color and indigenous
communities to claim the undeniable right to communicate --
to liberate our airwaves, networks, and cultural spaces. We
aim to fundamentally change the ownership structure,
language usage, and policy discourse around media within the
United States and internationally, so that those communities
most directly affected by media inequities can own the
movement and bring into reality the vision behind Media

We also recognize the interconnectedness between our
literacy as media producers/cultural workers, the fight for
media accountability and just media policy, and the need for
community-owned and controlled media institutions and
networks. Therefore, we define the Media Justice movement to
include those working in the areas of media advocacy, media
accountability and policy, cultural work and training in
media production, alternative journalism, and virtual/real
world technology organizing.

Why Media Justice?

Media Justice speaks to the need to go beyond creating
greater access to the same rotten corporate media structure.
We are interested in more than paternalistic
conceptualizations of "access," more than paper rights, more
than taking up space in a crowded boxcar along the corporate
information highway. Media Justice takes into account
history, culture, privilege, and power. We seek new
relationships to media and a new vision and reality for its
ownership, control, access, and structure. We understand
that this will require new policies, systems, and structures
that will treat our airwaves and our communities as more
than markets for exploitation.

We believe that communities of color, indigenous
communities, and other oppressed and underrepresented
communities need to stake out a distinct space within and
apart from the media democracy/reform movement -- similar to
the environmental justice movement's relationship to the
mainstream environmental movement. We believe this is
necessary in order to meaningfully address differences in
focus and approach to media organizing. At the heart of our
work is a rigorous power analysis, with race, class, and
gender at the center. We are not content to have these
issues relegated to one segment of a "mainstream"
discussion. We need a unique space so that our communities
can move forward the visions and strategies for this work
that are grounded in their own reality, which we believe
will lead our society towards a truly free and democratic

Moving Media Justice Forward!

In the Spring/Summer of 2004, community groups and networks
will meet at the first Media Justice Summit to discuss
issues, develop a set of core principles, and invite others
to participate and widen the circle of those familiar with
and connected to Media Justice organizing. The Media Justice
Summit Organizing Committee is eager to increase the number
of people explicitly working towards Media Justice. If
you're interested in learning more or would like to endorse
this statement, please contact us at

Media Justice is a powerful and necessary step toward
liberating our institutions and building the world we want.
Are you ready? Then let's get free.

Art McGee, Project Change
Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Third World Majority
Makani Themba-Nixon, The Praxis Project
Malkia Cyril, Youth Media Council
Jeff Perlstein, Media Alliance

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