Thoughts on the 2008 NCMR

Posted by Mitchell - June 17, 2008 (entry 602)

I have a chance to write down some thoughts about the 2008 National Conference for media reform. Let me divide my remarks into three categories:

The good: The conference was bigger than ever, with more people, more coverage (including live coverage all conference long by Free Speech TV), a bigger radio row, and -- for the first time -- coverage in the corporate television landscape. (Just ask Dan Rather.) Fox News can go sit on a tack, but MSNBC had a sympathetic story about the "gotcha" moment between Bill Moyers and some Fox hack; Keith Olbermann even made this exchange his #1 story. I also felt that there was more diversity (I felt that more people of color and women attended this conference than in past conferences), and there were more cool workshops and panels to attend -- far more than anyone could attend, which is why I await the full audio and video of the conference with baited breath.

The better: For the first time I can recall, the conference -- which has heretofore, almost studiously, avoided making connections between media democracy and larger systemic issues -- has begun to do that, and about time too. They even had a panel on Sunday about "The Big Picture" which drew a bigger crowd than. Plus, when Naomi Klein drew these systemic connections in an inspiring speech during the Saturday night plenary, she got the loudest cheers maybe in the entire conference. Great! More please!

The bad: Maybe I missed something, but aside from a booth or two and maybe three people I knew at the conference, organized labor was almost entirely missing from the conference. If so, this is a glaring gap that the conference organizers must work on remedying. Immediately. Consider this: One of the leading lights of the media and democracy movement for many years is about to leave the Prometheus Radio Project and start a job with labor union. Plus, Van Jones, who gave a superb speech in 2007, gave one in 208 that was, um, not as good. Admittedly, his focus on starting responsible green businesses is understandable considering that's his own business, but I mean, come on. There's a reason we don't do alchemy anymore.

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