National Conference on Media Reform (and Media Giraffe’s Journalism That Matters)


The National Conference on Media Reform came to Minneapolis June 6-8, with more than three thousand participants. The conference, sponsored by Free Press, focuses on diversity and democracy in media. Key issues include net neutrality, media consolidation, the future of the internet and the quality of journalism.

Before the NCMR arrived, Media GIraffe brought “Journalism That Matters: A Sense of Place” to the University of Minnesota campus, gathering more than a hundred bloggers and “new media” practitioners. The TC Daily Planet was at both conferences, and covered media issues extensively in the run-up to the conferences. Here is a compilation of articles.

Welcome to the Movement: NCMR Opening
by Justin Schell, TC Daily Planet
Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, the organization founded by Robert McChesney and the organizers of the NCMR, passionately spoke of the dangers within the contemporary media world, as well as those responsible for such dangers, i.e. Big Media and the weak and overly acquiescent mainstream journalistic outlets. “The corporate media is not a watchdog protecting us from the powerful,” Silver said. “It is a lapdog begging for scraps.”

Missed out, but made a friend
by Rachel Dykoski, Cabbages and Kings
Tonight’s feature film was a happening – Body of War, a documentary film witnessing the horror of youth stolen in an unjustified, potentially illegal war was due to be screened for conference attendees. Just after the dinner hour at 8 p.m. It sounds totally doable, right? But for many of us in need of sustenance or committed to networking events offsite it wasn’t. Imagine my displeasure, after duly stuffing face at the Market Bar B Que on Nicollet and actually arriving on time for the screening to be shut out of it because ‘the law’ says it’s dangerous to fill an auditorium beyond a certain capacity. Of all the nerve.

Bill Moyers delivers Saturday keynote address at the National Media Reform Conference.

More NMRC videos are already posted!

Keith Ellison speaks at the NCMR on Friday.

Local innovators offer a “Minnesota model” for media reform
by Jay Gabler, TC Daily Planet
“The Twin Cities have been an epicenter for media consolidation,” notes the National Conference for Media Reform program book. “Both daily newspapers have been bought, sold, and downsized by conglomerates. The alternative weekly is part of a national chain, too. And the TV and radio airwaves are dominated by some of the nation’s biggest media companies.”

One language, many voices
by Mary Turck, TC Daily Planet
Spanish Language Media: Is it serving the Hispanic community? That was the question posed for a panel at the National Media Reform Conference.

NCMR panel blasts media coverage of American media as shallow and “ignorant”
by Jay Gabler, TC Daily Planet
Without question there is more political coverage in the media today than ever before—but is that coverage of any meaningful substance, or is it essentially a gallery of talking heads shouting back and forth across the airwaves?

Ethnic media take up the mantle of public interest
by Kathlyn Stone, TC Daily Planet
America has been battling over press freedom ever since the Europeans landed. In fact, the British brought their struggle for press freedom with them. If you were alive in the 50s, 60s and 70s, you will remember that U.S. media were then revered worldwide for their history of challenging authority in the public interest.

The respect America once enjoyed overseas (despite a perception of brashness and naiveté) was due in large part to those who fought for freedom of the press and idealized the concept.

In many respects, ethnic media in America have stepped into that role of societal liberator and public watchdog.

Minnesota has numerous ethnic media, some with decades of work behind them – The Circle, Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, Asian American Press, Hmong Today, La Prensa, Insight News, to name a few.

Media Giraffe Speaks
by Mary Turck, TC Daily Planet
The Media Giraffe came to the Twin Cities today, talking about new pamphleteers and new reporters. What is this new media business? What’s the difference between bloggers and reporters? Who gets to be a journalist? And what does a giraffe have to do with it?

Interview: Janis Lane-Ewart, the breath of Fresh Air Radio by Patricia Webb-de la Cadena, TC Daily Planet

The new-ish kid on the block
by James Sanna, TC Daily Planet
Opening up the front page of the Minnesota Monitor on Wednesday morning, readers saw articles on Abu Ghraib, the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, an analysis of the recently-completed state budget process for this year and a veterans’ political organization’s take on Senator John McCain’s opposition to revamping GI Bill benefits. This mix of national and local political news and coverage of local issues is a signature of the news site, and others like it in the Center for Independent Media’s slowly growing network of news websites around the country.

Chi-Town Daily News ditches “just journalists” model
by Lisa Peterson-de la Cueva, TC Daily Planet
“Community Organizer” is a staff title you won’t see at the New York Times or the Chicago Tribune. A community organizer is just one of the things, though, that make Chi-Town Daily News different than other newspapers. The online newspaper also focuses solely on Chicago’s neighborhoods, and uses both professional and “citizen” journalists.

The future of media corporations?
by James Sanna, TC Daily Planet
Imagine if WCCO also ran the Pioneer Press, or you could watch C.J. on KSMP as you read her column on the Star-Tribune’s website.

That might be pretty neat – if you like WCCO or the Star Tribune. It could also be terrible and frightening, according to media reform advocates like Derek Turner at FreePress, a non-partisan activist group and think-tank that promotes a diverse and independent media. When he looks at that scenario, he sees an ever more tightly controlled news media that would focus more on high school sports than the state house, and be able to ignore a scandal that threatened other business interests of its owners.

In the Public Interest
by Mike Hazard