Media Exploitation of Crisis: The Political Dimension

Jim Snider at the New America Foundation has just published How Mass Media Use Crisis Communications for Political Gain,” an excellent paper on the process by which incumbent commercial broadcasters exploit crises as a way to parry criticism for the rest of the time when they don’t actually provide much public service. He also explores how the National Association of Broadcasters is currently manipulating the legislative process to maintain its questionable hold on the trade in localism, most specifically in the face of satellite-based competition.
I really admire how Snider shouts into the wind. He is consistently the most articulate thorn in the NAB’s side within the Beltway.

When Media Ownership Means Life and Death

Every year, for the last quarter-century, teachers in the Mexican state of Oaxaca converge on the capital city of the same name to remind the politicians that they exist. Oaxaca is very poor, mostly indigenous, and ruled like a colony by the Mexican central government. The teachers’ convergence is thus both widely-known and respected, but this year it’s taken a dramatic turn.
The teachers have been on strike since late May, seeking relief from a crumbling educational infrastructure and benefits for the students they serve. To force home the point, the teachers set up a tent metropolis in greater Oaxaca, effectively occupying the center city.
It should be noted here that Mexico has long embraced unlicensed broadcasting as an organizing and educational vehicle. In Oaxaca alone some three dozen stations broadcast regularly. They are openly operated and supported by a variety of groups, even though they are technically illegal. The teachers’ union set up a such a station, Radio Plantón, after last year’s convergence. Continue reading “When Media Ownership Means Life and Death”

Liberal Media Witch-Hunting in Wisconsin

Over the last couple of weeks friends in Madison have been forwarding me various correspondence between folks at the University of Wisconsin, the UW-Extension, the office of state representative Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater), and the syndicated labor radio news service I helped create, the Workers Independent News Service (WIN(S)).
Rep. Nass, who is chair of the State Assembly’s Committee on Labor and also sits on various committees dealing with education issues and the UW System, apparently has a problem with WIN(S) and the fact that it reports business news from the perspective of working people. Continue reading “Liberal Media Witch-Hunting in Wisconsin”

WordPress Design Challenge

The transition of this site to some sort of content management system is long overdue. There’s too much stuff here now to keep good track of it manually.
I’ve settled on WordPress, given its ease of use and flexibility, and after the learned advice of technically-inclined friends. However, before beginning the actual site migration, it behooves me to cement the design of the new site first.
To tell the truth, I like the simplicity of the current design, though I have plans for the sidebar. What I’d like to do is modify a WordPress theme to mimic what you see now as closely as possible. However, my semi-random hacking at stylesheets and other theme components leads to broken sh*t. Anybody out there with design skillz who can help?

Berkeley Liberation/Freak Radio Visit Photos

I visited Freak Radio Santa Cruz and Berkeley Liberation Radio earlier this month. Ironically, at neither location did I actually glimpse the transmitter. I wish I would have thought out in advance how to cover them. I did try to record some audio, but f*cked up the settings on my magic box.
Fortunately, the V-Man managed to tape the surprise visit from Poodles McGee of the FCC, who just so happened to be in town on vacation and wanted to see the infamous Freak Radio for himself. No harm done, though Poodles promised to return with “nasty-ass musclebound wacknuts to come and take your stuff away.”
I really wish I would have had more time. Many thanks to the V-Man, Skidmark Bob, Bradley, Phil, Matt, Cap’n Fred, Jane, and Arun for making it happen.

Making Waves Plays Chicago

Michael Lahey’s excellent, award-winning documentary on microbroadcasting, Making Waves, publicly screens for the first time in the Windy City next weekend at the Chicago Underground Film Festival. Actually, it’s playing twice, on 8/19 and 8/21. Check the new trailer before you go.
Michael recently moved to Chicago and may be around at the screenings for an afterward Q&A. If you can’t make the screenings, you can still check it out on Free Speech TV, where it’s been playing at least monthly. It’ll play five times on August 24th alone.

Bettendorf Pirates Receive $27k in Fines

The two principals behind the high-profile pirate “Power 103.3” in Bettendorf, Iowa have been handed stiff monetary forfeitures by the FCC. Matthew Britcher, self-proclaimed “promotions director” of the commercial-format station, is being asked to pay $17,000 for running the station and refusing an FCC agent’s request to inspect it. Jason Duncan, quoted in local media as a “co-owner,” received a $10,000 forfeiture.
This is the first FCC case to get this far in which the pirates invoked 47 CFR 73.3542 as a defense; this little-known statute allows for emergency broadcast services in times of war or national emergency. Britcher and Duncan called it the “War Powers Act,” and some other pirate stations are treating it as a license-free pass, but it is nothing of the sort. Continue reading “Bettendorf Pirates Receive $27k in Fines”