OurMedia final report #3: Inspiring, deep and daunting challenges ahead not least Ch31 in Sydney hierarchical model
Topic: independent media
Picture: From top left to right all taken Day 4 at ICE - Information & Cultrual Exchange, Granville field trip1.computer lab called Switch 2. brave Hong Kong democracy activist Oiwan Lam 3. rap artists in the sound booth 4. rap or is it hip hop artist 5. Switch work area 6. Voices of the Nile presentation 7. Melodic song from local youth 8. Interview of traditional owner 9. Somali TV product from ICE 10. Senate candidate from AMWU Doug Cameron.
The morning after the 4 day Our Media conference by the local UWS and UTS I woke up to Geraldine Doogue on radio national here Saturday April 14th 07
08:35: Citizen Journalism Read Transcript Interviewing Stuart Allan Professor of Media Studies, University of the West of England, and Tony Walker Manager, ABC, Digital Radio www.abcdigitalfutures.net
The OurMedia gathering is described in one notice like this:
The 6th international OURMedia Conference (OM6) is to be held in Sydney in 2007. The OM6 Conference will bring together international and national experts, researchers, policy makers, activists and local community development practitioners to discuss ways to ensure a sustainable future for building …The Sydney conference is to be hosted by the School of Communication Arts, University of Western Sydney in association with the Centre for Cultural Research at UWS, and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney, with community partner Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE), an organization based in Granville, Sydney.
Past OURMedia conferences have been organized in the United States (2001), Spain (2002), Colombia (2003), Brazil (2004) and India (2005). These conferences have consisted of scholarly and academic presentations, media activism initiatives, policy workshops, community cultural development roundtable debates, new media labs, research-led forums and engagements by local media producers.
Concurrent with this conference there were some related stories about new media apart from the Radio National interview above: We also noticed:
Boy dupes YouTube to delete videos, and
The main website for organising the Sydney OurMedia conference is here: http://www.ourmedia07.net/
An organisational website is here http://www.ourmedianet.org/general/about_us.html
The Sydney April 2007 conference documentation website is here:
A good summary website describing the enormous social and intellectual capital of this‘network and forum’ including the recent April 07 Sydney conference (the sixth international meeting) is here (including a few pictures)
My own humble 2 previous articles of the Sydney conference with some colourful images complementing this third report are here: at topic independent media on the right menu
- Thursday, 12 April 2007
Our Media conference #2: excellent capacity building continues
- Wednesday, 11 April 2007
When will it be Our Media?: #1 report: Conference of international practitioners kicks off
SAM reported the Australian Climbing Festival on the Easter Weekend where hundreds were greeted by two of the local traditional Aboriginal owners of the land in a 'welcome to country'. The audience were very appreciative and enjoyed the interaction. But at OM6 sadly there was no such authentic interaction the first day though a local was booked apparently. There was the UTS 3/2005 copy of the Southside News which was very strong in solidarity with local Aboriginal concerns. But I wondered about the no show.
In report #1 I noted there was a dearth of local activism in the Guthrie Theatre on opening day with some empty seats. This changed especially by the 4th day and there were always strong hints of an underbelly of activism from this writers schematic chalkings, to poster boards and Chilean posters, to Zanny Begg/Keg De Souza’s activist newspaper “If You See Something, Say Something”. There was also a Polymedia lab for unplanned activities which was at first quiet then gathered some steam.
In the end I concluded the lack of rah rah activism belied the depth of the OurMedia roots. The energy of the event was reflected more in the dull roar of the morning and afternoon tea breaks, and especially the raucous 150 dinner goers at Thai Phatong on Thursday night. This was a gathering of representative experts including CAAMA Aboriginal broadcasters from central Australia. The wikipedia article above notes too:
“Some 70 participants from overseas attended the Sydney conference. OURMedia 6 claims … 130 presentations from people in 35 countries, representing over one hundred organisations.
Currently OURMedia/NUESTROSMedios claims to … a network of over 500 persons from some 50 countries globally. It says that its "purpose" is to "connect scholars, practitionres, activists, artists, and policy-makers to provide spaces for dialogue and exchange".
Certainly the local UWS/UTS website has an impressive list of universities and countries of attendees.
The toned down nature of the event was explained as much by this comment at the end of the 3rd day during the organisation session for next time: “funding for this conference meant deleting activist from every application and then reinserting it in the conference itself.” The horizontal and subterranean nature of OurMedia and it’s deceptively academic style is also revealed by the absence of any formal secretariat so far.
Apparently Clemencia Rodriguez distinguished with her own wikipedia entry did most of this for several years but admitted at one point she “hates writing grant applications and I avoid it as much as possible” . This rang true as she presented a paper on sophisticated culture jamming of a rampaging cattle industry in South America via the salsa song tradition. More here at www.cfsc.org and www.comminit.com But this sparse resourcing has had other affects: Somewhat exuberant and panicky exhortations of Gabriele Hadl for us to stay for the planning work of the next conference. Hadl of Austrian orgins and a fluent Japanese speaker at Tokyo University was a stand out dynamic figure at the conference and obviously committed to the network.
During this session, activist and increasingly media practitioner, Jethro Pettit, the descendant of a campaigning newspaper owning abolitionist against slavery, also made a plea that Our Media get some more solid resourcing of its network organisation.
Perhaps in this way the international community, alternative and Indigenous media might get more of what it deserves while Multinational corporations co opt mass populations sometimes subtely, often blatantly.
Pictures: From top left to right, all taken day 3 at UTS Harris St 1.The highly impressive Ahmed Swapan Mahmud of Bangladesh group Voice www.voicebd.org with conference organiser Dr Juan Salazar of UTS 2. Chalkings relating to Big Media abc, News Ltd, Lake Cowal issue 3. Tom Dawkins of www.vibewire.net at youth forum 4. dull roar of out of session fug 5. cute organiser 6. heavy weight organisers from left a. Jethro Pettit b. ? c. Gabriele Hadl d. ? from Canada e. Clemencia Rodrigeuz (refer wikipedia) f.Juan Salazar g. Elli Rennie h. Alfonso Gumucio (wikipedia) 7. at right Ilaria Vanni of UTS here 8. very sparse Liberian radio station
In Sydney for instance we have the scandal of the Ch31 TV licence failing to broadcast excellent programmes produced by the ICE resource centre at Granville. We have local academics criticising 31 for its “woeful lack of a participatory model” and Ch31 Melbourne veterans describing their comparative success based on
1. low financial gearing and high volume advertising to small business
2. only groups directly involved in production of tv programmes are stakeholders in the management and operation of the channel.
In fact we made a point of a doorstop interview of Professor Wayne McKenna, dean of Uni of Western Sydney on Tuesday 10th of April 07 which proceeded like this:
SAM: Hi Professor, I’m with one of the programme providers for Ch31, can you answer a question on the record?
Prof: No, You’re with a programme provider?’
Prof: Off the record [......some things said, nothing too surprising].‘
Prof: On the record, we never intended to operate community tv. Our interest is educational opportunities.
SAM : So you need a partner to satisfy the investment by UWS so far [at least a $million]
Prof: Our aim is to consolidate the future of Ch31.
SAM: I suppose theres is a great need in that part of the city out at UWS?
Prof: Yes. When I pushed for it to be in Penrith it wasn’t very popular.
SAM: Do you think it’s possible to synthesize the education/training agenda with the community sector practitioners participation?
Prof: Yes, let me choose my words carefully. Yes I do think its possible and we would like to strengthen links there.
SAM: OK on that positive note thanks for your time .
But the hopeful words are not the actual experience of the community sector that had a functioning, viable and accessible Ch31 for a good 10 years admittedly of patchy quality, until it was put out to tender and allocated to a UWS back consortium that prompty took it off air for 18 months. Now limping along it is rumoured to be falling over with UWS a beggar in the marketplace to save its educational asset that really belongs to civil society not university beancounters as such.
It was civil society we inspected on the 4th day of the conference (as pictured at top), who were the losers in this betrayal of participatory tv broadcasting ideals in favour of thinly disguised training subsidy to Big Media TV sector: In particular the community around such as the Information & Cultural Exchange resource centre on Parramatta Rd in Granville http://www.ice.org.au/
On the ground floor of the AMWU building we got a stirring speech on fair trade and innovation from Senate candidate Doug Cameron, whose union sponsers the centre:
We had a brief chance to ask him: "Do you think you will get a ministry if and when the ALP win the federal election? "
Doug Cameron amused: “Oh I don’t think so, there are a lot of voices against that happening. Anyway that’s not why I am doing it. It’s to get a voice for these issues.”
[from his speech such as oppressive globalisation, centralisation of media, excessive corporate bonuses, extreme industrial relations, denial of the real global warming threat, poor innovation here in Australia, quarry farm and tourist destination]
The more I thought about the last 4 days of meeting and learning the more I concluded that for this world to avoid a brutal endgame from global warming, or terrifying nuclear proliferation as per this story from the AFP on April 12th
Russians warn against US missile defence project | The World | The Australian
we at SAM think one of the few ways to save this world would be if the media sector reformed itself to actually serve the People rather than their own excessive privilege and finances and access to Big Politics and Big Business. And that is a very big if. In fact anthropologists tell us that every civilisation has crashed and burned for exceeding their limits. But you won’t hear that in the mainstream media. No one wants to buy depressing reality like that.
Postscript #1 19th April 2007, notes this unsatisfactory foray to the UN Security Council by Britian on global warming here, including reference to Bangladesh and Maldives at major risk:
UN rebuff for Britain on global warming
Posted by editor
at 12:03 AM NZT
Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007 11:35 AM NZT