I attended this program on Monday Night (6/22). The goals of the organizers of this particular forum were to create 1. A list of ways racism is perpetuated or dismantled through media, 2. A list of ways media outlets can improve their reporting based on race, and 3. A list of ways readers of online media and participants of online social media networks can dismantle racism.
The organizers had about 140 people break out in groups to ponder and brainstorm on the above 3 goals.
None of the documents I received that were handed out establish a definition for media nor did any of the facilitators that I heard, during the welcome portion or through the group facilitator express, at least in brief, an initial definition given for “MEDIA”(M) or “ONLINE SOCIAL NETWORKS” (OSN) or the various levels Media and OSN’s can be perceived. My group however seemed to have a good handle on that.
I observed, from both the group conversations and the end of session report, which summarize each of the 15 groups findings, the following: The 3 goals really were perceived as one of the same, there were a lot of overlapping answers and suggestions; People understand the mainstream media is often biased, it feeds on spectacle including the spectacle of gossip, violence, and hatred that is often spewed on OSN comments and news clips; Commercial and mainstream Media is driven by audience numbers and profit and therefor the lowest common denominator wins ( If it bleeds,it leads); Media often represents the agenda of the handful of corporations that own it nationally or globally; Reporting is generally weak, lacks true unbiased investigation for the most part (commentary is not news, it’s opinion), and while leaning toward spectacle ( ad clicks and for ad sales)it also seems to serve as a propaganda machine for government or corporate interest; Media often focuses on national news feeds and most of the information is repeated in loops covering remote happenings. It was acknowledged in my group that the constant repeated play of a story tends to magnify violence and racism through strategic use of imagery and language (again to draw an audience), which in turn is infectious and generates more of the same and misunderstanding or worse, hatred and resentment; Media often leaves out the good news or fails to probe into the non-violent solutions or sides of the story; Readers of OSN’s need to learn to better discern, counter, and understand that there are pros’ and cons’ to anonymity ( for instance some fear political or corporate retribution, or being marginalized and others, on the con side, use it as a cloak to spread hate), and that while some choose to be be silent, not everyone is an enemy. The on line readers have to stop feeding the negativity by adding instead positive perspectives to counter others who push the negative and hate; There is a lack of real media literacy and this means an understanding and skill set of how to write, create digital media, and critically analyze what is written, in order to discern the message and it’s agenda or posturing; (sadly) uninformed or media illiterate are more prone to surrender their freedom of speech to “higher” authorities, rather than empower themselves with tools that are currently available such as community public access outlets,( Like WCCA TV or WCUW, or to write their own blogs on-line , or create their own broadside or news letters, for instance).
One piece that I thought was curiously missing, at least through my group or in the final session’s end report, was no one spoke about how racism and hate thrive on fear and isolation. Although this was subtly touched upon by pointing out that most coverage focuses upon national news rather than local issues. Avoiding the local perspectives and news creates a type of isolation from what is happening in our own back yard. The lack local connections removes the connection and discourages the immediacy of underlying issue (race or hate crime). Another point I found missing was the acknowledgment that there is also BIG money in keeping people in fear and through managing and or addressing hatred and violence. Keeping voices silent and isolated helps sustain a culture of death, racism and violence. The money making is not rendered only on the media and OSNs level, it’s raked in through the court systems, jails, Local, State and Federal government, even levels of social workers and healthcare, and other spin off enterprises. I sincerely hope that point is not going to be lost at the end of these sessions for the sake of sincerity of this entire dialogue process. I look forward to the end reports and hope to see tangible solutions that can be applied to end racism and all forms of hate and violence.
It is clearly apparent to me, through my observations, that programs such as public access WCCA TV and others like it need to be encouraged, better supported, and expanded as means to build bridges of peace, end racism, empower the voices of the people, and to build community. More importantly facilities such as WCCA need to be utilized much more. AT WCCA TV the people of our community ARE THE MEDIA. That translates to power to the people !
WCCA TV, non-profit public access media, is an institution for Media Democracy, Media Literacy and Creative Innovation since 1986