by: Dan Tsang
Luckily, the LAPD's show of force was just that. After exposing their hard weaponry for what seemed an interminable time, they slithered away into the darkness. Later that night, back in Orange County, I logged on to the Independent Media Center's main Web-site, clicked on "LA" and saw a minute-by-minute account of what we had gone through that night.
IMC had been set up right before the 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization's ministerial meeting in Seattle, because of distrust of how the corporate media would cover the uprising. It allows anyone with access to a PC connected to the Internet to upload text, audio, or video so that it would be accessible to the rest of the wired world.
Such democratization of the media is, of course, made feasible by technological developments that permit, for example, almost anyone with very little technological sophistication to record a protest scene on a tape recorder or camcorder, digitize it if necessary, and upload the media file to the Web. No longer do we need to rush home to see how the local TV networks cover any demo; we can shoot our own footage or tape our own audio, and broadcast it to almost anyone.
It also allows, at least those of use who live in wired (and increasingly, wireless) societies, to view and hear street protest scenes uncensored. This raw, largely unedited footage, is not slick like what network producers offer up. But it contains the stuff of history as it is being made, largely by those without power.
"(the web) also allows (us)... to view and hear street protest scenes uncensored"
While video and radio activists in the U.S. are presenting their own alternative realities on the Net, largely ignoring the corporate media, in the U.K. a group of video activists have formed Under Currents that documents street resistance and sells the footage to the corporate media. They have not eschewed the Internet; some of their video clips are available online (see below).
As globalization races on, and the FCC continues to defend mainstream--and corporate--media against the onslaught of micro-radio activists and low-frequency band insurgents, the battlefield seems to have jumped to another arena. Now it's the unfettered Internet, not the regulated airspace (at least in the U.S.). The voices of resistance have carved out a growing niche in cyberspace, giving hope at least that the powerless will not be totally squashed, with the prospect of enlisting countless others, the world over, to the cause.
Here's an annotated if selective listing of alternative radio and video activism on the Internet for you to explore:
Independent Media Center
The IMC is the granddaddy of Net media activism. Growing exponentially since the Seattle protests against the WTO, it now has dozens of sites in the U.S., plus sites abroad. Just click on the cities listed on its home page. The New York IMC, for one, features one of Ralph Nader's super-rallies, as well as interviews with Noam Chomsky.
FreeSpeech Internet Television
Click on "today's featured video" or its Archives, for audio or video of political actions, such as political prisoner Mumia Abul Jamal's case, students striking in Mexico, or a critique of corporate trade.
Bruderhof Radio: Broadening the Bounds of Discourse
English-language program from New York that features "no-holds barred progressive news." 28-minute shows available to non-commercial radio stations; but also Web-cast on RealAudio. Recent shows include Cuba: Resisting the Empire; and Unfair Labor: Child Farmworkers in America.
Radio for Peace International
Costa-Rican based radio featuring programming that, among other things, presents indigenous voices (as in "Honoring Mother Earth") or exposes racism with its "Far Right Radio Review".
Paper Tiger Television: Smashing the Myths of the Information Industry
This video documentary collective has offered "myth smashing video activism since 1981"! The videos, "Showdown in Seattle" and "Breaking the Bank", are linked here as RealVideo files.
This British site offers video activism with a purpose: to reach a mass audience. Primarily a video magazine that seeks to penetrate corporate airwaves, it offers on the Web a selection of its output. Click on "Undercurrents online." Includes an online video, "Introduction to video activism".
National Radio Project
Produces a weekly half-hour radio program, "Making Contact", with features on environmental and political issues spanning the globe. Often aired on KUCI's Alternative News.
FreeSpeech Radio News
Striking Pacifica correspondents' weekly half-hour newscast, often aired on KUCI's Alternative News.
Amy Goodman's progressive interview show continues to persist despite management attacks on her. She actually got to ask President Clinton some hard questions (e.g., on the Leonard Peltier pardon attempt) when Clinton called WBAI inexplicably on election day.
The Serbian station that stood up to President Slobodan Milosevic and migrated to the Web. The French music group, Apple Jelly has dedicated an album to B92.
Radio 4 All
This site, it says, "connects you all to the movement to reclaim the airwaves." Links to microstations all over, some with Web-casts.
Dan Tsang, a UCI librarian, is host of "Alternative News" and "Subversity", both on KUCI. He is also a regular contributor to the OC Weekly, Orange County's alternative weekly newspaper.