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Independent media mobilization in Montreal: Indie media unite

Indie media unite

Goodman: Gives real goods on media
Photo: Michael Keel

CKUT Radio, Montreal’s pre-eminent anglo campus-community radio station, is celebrating 20 years of broadcasting. To mark this important anniversary, CKUT is hosting Redefining Media: Media Democracy and Community Radio, a major independent media conference featuring multiple workshops from alternative broadcasters, filmmakers, journalists and media activists who will be converging on Montreal from across North America.

Amy Goodman, the New York City-based host of Democracy Now!, will speak in Montreal to kick off the conference at McGill University on Friday, Oct. 19.

"In a time of war, independent media institutions are essential, as independent media can hold power accountable through providing alternative information," explains Goodman from New York. "A 20th anniversary is very exciting," she says concerning CKUT’s birthday, "an excellent opportunity to celebrate the power and potential of independent media."

Democracy Now! is a dynamic independent TV/radio program broadcasting on over 450 stations in North America, described as "the largest public media collaboration in the U.S.," according to the program’s website.

"It is essential that we continue to build a challenge to the corporate media," explains Goodman. "Today the media are the most powerful institutions on earth, more powerful than any gun or missile; the Pentagon has deployed the corporate media and we have to take it back."

Media concentration remains an issue of concern for independent media activists in Canada, as the expanding reach of media conglomerates like CanWest Global Communications or Quebecor Inc. are viewed as a threat to the presence of independent voices critical of corporate or state policy in Canada.

"CKUT Radio continues to offer programming and volunteer opportunities that are unparalleled in the city," says Kristiana Clemens, CKUT’s music programming co-ordinator. "This conference is an attempt to celebrate 20 years of independent community radio in Montreal while also celebrating Media Democracy Day, which takes place each October, with a conference which will bring together both academic and grassroots perspectives on the importance of independent media."

For the full conference schedule, visit www.ckut.ca/redefiningmedia.php.

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  • by Heather Lee - October 19, 2007, 10:56 am

    Independent media is essential to democracy because it is not contaminated by the corporate control of its advertisers. It is real news in its purest form. Right?

    Not so fast. This world will never be ideal. Let’s not be naive. Mainstream media is not going to be taking a back seat to alternative news anytime soon. Big business would never allow it.

    Who has more power in a first world society, the business leader or the homeless beggar? Does the beggar, interviewed for yet another story on the plight of the homeless, really have a voice. Hardly would a mainstream media outlet really cover all the angles of his life.

    Does a wealthy person actually troll those colourful newsstands scattered throughout the urban jungle for a copy of an alternative, often free, paper? No, he seldom leaves the confines of his domain: neither his car nor his home in an upscale neighbourhood.

    No Sir, the wealthy person is oblivious to the plight of the beggar; the ever eroding ecology of our planet; the poor; the third-world carnage of civil unrest and starvation.

    Instead he reads what the advertisers want him to read; the news that is controlled by big business. The same news that comes neatly packaged, in the form of a subscription, delivered right to his door just before the sun rises (often by a socio-economically challenged individual in a stereotypically beat-up car).

    Therefore, the continued survival of independent media depends on public awareness of its existence and public perception. Canada has to muzzle the money guzzlers. Less corporate control would raise the public image of independent media.

    Secondly, alternative media has to raise awareness by convincing Canada’s various ethnic communities that freedom of the press, a democratic fifth estate is not “official lies and propaganda” said recently by a neighbour from the former Eastern Block.

    The propaganda machine is a subjective beast; it’s fuel: ignorance and the abuse of money and power.

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