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Friday, April 23, 2004  

Opinion: Still irked by Indymedia


Recent events in Portland have led me to think about press bias. Most of the time that is a term I would apply to conservative publications such as the neo-Confederate overrun Washington Times and United Press International. My position in regard to the mainstream media is that it has somewhat of a conservative bias, but that most reporters don't weigh political impact when writing a story. I base that belief on both research and my own experience as a journalist. The press I'm annoyed with currently is Left, though I am not sure it even deserves to be called 'press.' Indymedia is again publishing dubious claims about a local event -- the second shooting of an unarmed African-American motorist in ten months. The impact of the biased coverage is to encourage people to confront the police. The outcome may be more violence deaths. These people are irresponsible. During my early days blogging I wrote an entry about Indymedia.

My newborn blog has already attracted critics. They hail from the environs of the advocacy and propaganda sites that form IndyMedia. The contretempts began with a comment I made at Atrios' house:

I don't like Indymedia and avoid it. They are not media, but propaganda producers. I no more trust what is reported there than I trust Moonie-owned UPI and the Washington Times. The mainstream media is imperfect, but propagandists of any political stripe are much worse.

Furthermore, as several people have pointed out, IndyMedia is very fringe. No intelligent person reading an IM story would mistake it for an even somewhat objective account. The advocacy and lack of professionalism is too obvious. Criticizing liberals for the sins of IndyMedia is just like criticizing us for being fellow travelers with ANSWER -- ludicrous.

The remark had been occassioned by an item about middle-of-the-road blogger Mark Kleiman's criticism of Left activists who interrupted a fundraiser for John Edwards in N.C. Mark wanted to know why liberals weren't criticizing an attack by leftists on one of their own. Were we cutting the Left slack that we wouldn't cut the Right? Atrios responded, in part:

Mark Kleiman wonders why I'm not all over the people who disrupted a John Edwards fundraising event. Mostly it's because I didn't know anything about it as I don't spend much time hanging out at Indymedia.

My comment above was made in regard to his reference to IndyMedia. An advocate for IndyMedia, one among several, said:

Mac Diva, you can not like Indymedia if you want to but that shouldn't mean that you misunderstand how it works. When you say "they are not media" who are the "they"? Anyone can post whatever they want on IMC. That kind of freedom has both an up and a downside but what you see there is not the result of a static "them" that excludes you.

A site or publication where one can post whatever one wants is not a newsgathering operation at all. The content is of little interest to me because it does not report facts and is not remotely objective. Call it advocacy. Call it public relations. Call it propaganda, but don't call it news. Is the mainstream media perfect? Far from it. And, as a veteran journalist I know that better than most people. However, I am looking for reportage better than what I can find in the mainstream media. What is available at IndyMedia is worse.

Another reason for my distance from Indymedians is I am a liberal, not a radical. As a full gauge liberal, I believe in reforming anything and everything that is wrong with our society. However, I don't believe the revolution will or will not be televised, because I don't believe there will be a revolution. The, I suspect, mainly youthful participants in and audience for IndyMedia, probably do believe that smashing a few store windows, blocking a few television cameras and disrupting a Democratic candidate's fundraiser will lead to the overthrow of the government. Silly rabbits. Don't they know tricks. . . .

The discussion of the altercation at the Edwards event has continued and spread to other blogs.

Based on what I've read, I don't agree with the disruption of Edwards' fundraiser. The disruptors seem very skeptical of electoral politics. That leads me to wonder if they are really Democratic voters or merely seeking the spotlight reflected by a mainstream candidate. However, I don't feel any particular need to chatise them. As I said in my comments at Atrios,' fringe Leftists do not represent the views of most liberals. We should not let ourselves be snookered into considering them our burden.

Some things change. Some things don't. The recent excesses of Indymedia irk me as much as that episode did. It may be 'indy,' but it is not credible media.

6:14 PM