....LMB: "The Protest"....

January 12, 2003

Big anti-war protest in downtown Los Angeles yesterday. As usual, check out the local IndyMedia coverage of the event. I have a lot of problems with IndyMedia (which most people would probably see as boring technical disagreements), but no one covers a protest like they do. Where the mainstream media will give you a single photo, two vague soundbites and a couple statistics (estimated number in attendance, number arrested, poll numbers showing why you shouldn't care what the protesters think, etc.), IndyMedia will usually have continually-updated live reports, audio and video of a protest, followed by dozens of first-hand accounts, lengthy interviews with participants, and many many photographs which might give you the feeling of being there. I'll put my favorite photo of the protest here, to give this entry a bit more punch:

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Posting the photo here seems to be messing with many people's browsers, so just click here to see it.

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It was a tame protest, which I suppose I have mixed feelings about. I went without any pretensions that this event was going to have any effect on government policy. It was mainly a mildly rebellious way for people to voice their anti-war opinions. And that's never a bad thing, standing up and speaking your mind. And I was very relieved to be in a protest where I wasn't fearing for my physical well-being because I was ringed with hundreds and hundreds of cops in riot gear, stroking their weapons; this protest simply had maybe a hundred uniformed officers, a handful of traffic cops, and a much more relaxed atmosphere. Nice change of pace.

Maybe the protest helped increase vocal opposition to the war. Maybe someone seeing the protest on TV news said to themselves, "wow, I didn't know that many people felt the same way that I do hating Bush and this war. Maybe I shouldn't be afraid to speak out." Maybe somebody who attended it as their very first protest made some friends and vowed to get even more involved. But the only way this protest might have made an impact on Washington would've been if there had been some massive distrubances caused by the protesters, with the foreboding that there would be more and more such disturbances unless the government changed its policy. That didn't happen, so I imagine the White House watched the news coverage and shrugged before continuing along the pre-set path.

Then you get to the familiar "battle of the numbers." Police, politicians and "city officials" nearly always downplay the number of attendees of any sort of protest, while protest organizers inevtiably try to play them up. The press usually cites both numbers and leaves it at that, which is really pretty lazy of them. You're a reporter, you're at the protest, try to give me your own damn estimate!

Saturday's number battle:

First Cop estimate (acc'ding to LA Times)- 3000 protesters
Current Cop estimate (LA Times)- 5000-7000 protesters
Cop estimage (acci'ding to CNN.com)- 2000 protesters
Protest organizers- 20,000-50,000 protesters

I was there. I wasn't able to see the entire march, but I'd estimate about 6000-8000 people. Last time I tried to estimate a march size, I guessed 8000 and the local paper estimated 12,000, which may say something about my estimation skills. So take it all with a grain of salt.

Lots of folks at the protest, many I think for their first. Many folks in wheelchairs, many folks with dogs. Lot of the usual suspects. I think actually that's one of the reasons that cops exhibit so much fear and anger towards protesters, is because they don't recognize the usual suspects, because they are so unfamiliar with common activists, organizations, behaviors and practices. I go to a protest and immediate start some mental calculus: "okay, there's the Green party giving out bumper stickers. There's an anarchist contingent, dressed in black and masking up; they might be stirring some shit up today, better stay away from them if I don't want to get arrested. There's the folks with the giant puppets. There's some dude who's gonna try to sell me his damn Worker's Revolutionary Working Communist Worker newspaper, I'll start walking this way to avoid him. There's some white dude from a cultish Communist org somewhat suspiciously chanting slogans in Spanish. There's some IndyMedia folks, there's some unaffiliated folks. There's a beaming teen-aged girl who probably hasn't been to a protest before, unaware that the mis-drawn peace logo on her homemade sign is actually the Mercedes-Benz logo." And countless, countless others.

And for me, the highlight was the very beginning of the rally outside the downtown Federal Building. It began with an ad-hoc rock band made up of famous and semi-famous musicians from years past: some guy from Deep Purple, some guy from Toto, some guy from Shelia E (or Sheena E?)'s band, some dude from Jackson Browne, and SLASH FROM GUN 'N ROSES!

At which point I quipped to everyone who would listen, "Dude, how can we lose? We've got SLASH on our side!"

Posted by Jake at 12:42 PM
Comments

the pic you posted was really cool

Posted by: lydiadeetz at January 15, 2003 10:14 AM
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Media News

December 01, 2004

Media Mambo

The Great Indecency Hoax- last week, we wrote about how the "massive outcry" to the FCC about a racy Fox TV segment amounted to letters from 20 people. This week, we look at the newest media scandal, the infamous "naked back" commercial. On Monday Night Football, last week, ABC aired an ad for it's popular "Desperate Housewives" TV show, in which one of the actresses from the show attempted to seduce a football player by removing the towel she was wearing to bare her body to him. All the audience saw, however, was her back. No tits, no ass, no crotch, just her back.

No one complained.

The next Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh told his shocked viewers how the woman had appeard in the commercial "buck naked".

Then, the FCC received 50,000 complaints. How many of them actually saw this commercial is anyone's guess.

The article also shows the amazing statistics that although the Right is pretending that the "22% of Americans voted based on 'moral values'" statistic shows the return of the Moral Majority, this is actually a huge drop from the 35% who said that in the 2000 election or the 40% who said that in 1996 (when alleged pervert Bill Clinton was re-elected). This fact is so important I'm going to mention it over in the main news section too.

Brian Williams may surprise America- Tom Brokaw's replacement anchor, Brian Williams, dismissed the impact of blogs by saying that bloggers are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem." Which is really funny, coming out of the mouth of a dude who's idea of journalism is to read words out loud off a teleprompter. Seriously, if parrots were literate, Brian Williams would be reporting live from the line outside the soup kitchen.

In related news, Tom Brokaw has quit NBC Nightly News, and it appears that unlike his predecessor, the new guy can speak without slurring words like a drunk.

PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror- in February of 2002, Donald Rumsfeld announced the creation of the Office of Strategic Influence, a new department that would fight the war on terror through misinformation, especially by lying to journalists. Journalists were so up in arms about this that the Pentagon agreed to scrap the program.

Don't you think that an agency designed to lie to the public might lie about being shut down, too?

This article gives some examples about the US military lying to the press for propaganda and disinformation purposes.

Tavis Smiley leaving NPR in December- African-American talk show host Tavis Smiley is opting to not renew his daily talk show on National Public Radio. He criticized his former employers for failing to: "meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio but simply donít know it exists or what it offers ... In the most multicultural, multi-ethnic and multiracial America ever, I believe that NPR can and must do better in the future." He's 100% correct. NPR is white. Polar bear eating a marshmallow at the mayonaise factory white. And the reason it's so white is that it is trying to maintain an affluent listener base (premoniantly older white folks) who will donate money to their stations. This is a great paradox of American public broadcasting, that they have a mandate to express neglected viewpoints and serve marginalized communities, but those folks can't donate money in the amounts that the stations would like to see.

U.S. Muslim Cable TV Channel Aims to Build Bridges- it sounds more positive than it is "Bridges TV" seems to simultaneously be a cable channel pursuing an affluent American Muslim demographic, and a way of building understanding and tolerance among American non-Muslims who might happen to watch the channel's programming. I was hoping it would be aimed more at Muslim's worldwide, but it ain't. Still, I'd be interested in seeing how their news programs cover the issues.

Every Damned Weblog Post Ever- it's funny cuz it's true.

Wikipedia Creators Move Into News- Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created collectively by thousands of contributors. It's one of those non-profit, decentralized, collective, public projects that show how good the internet can be. Now, the Wikipedia founders are working on a similar project to create a collaborative news portal, with original content. Honestly, it's quite similar to IndyMedia sites (which reminds me, happy 5th birthday, IndyMedia!). I'll admit, I'm a bit skeptical about the Wikinews project, though. IndyMedia sites work because they're local, focused on certain lefty issues, and they're run by activists invested in their beliefs. I'm not sure what would drive Wikinews or how it would hang together.

CBS, NBC ban church ad inviting gays- the United Church of Christ created a TV ad which touts the church's inclusion, even implying that they accept homosexuals into their congregation. Both CBS and NBC are refusing to air the ad. This is not too surprising, as many Americans are uncomfortable about homosexuality, and because TV networks are utter cowards. But CBS' explanation for the ban was odd:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast."

Whoa, what? First of all, the ad does not mention marriage at all. Second, since when do positions opposite of the Executive Branch constitute "unacceptable"? This doesn't sound like "we're not airing this because it's controversial", this sounds like "we're afraid of what the President might say."

Posted by Jake at 10:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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