NCMR 2011: A Call to Arms

National Conference for Media Reform, April 8th-10th 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts

i knew i had to attend. i’d been receiving emails from the people at freepress about this conference, a place to listen, to make connections and find allies in this struggle to take back a fundamental pillar of our democracy: the media.

what is that? The Media.

to me, that word has come to sound like several things…
– a dark oppressive cloud of misinformation
– all pointless jibber jabber about some sad celebrity’s drug issues or so called “sex addiction”
– a collective ringing of noise meant to distract from what’s actually important in our lives

but what is it *meant* to be?  i’m not talking about the dictionary definition, which i will include anyway:

media me·di·a /ˈmidiə/ [mee-dee-uh]
1. a plural of medium.
2. (usually used with a plural verb) the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, and magazines, that reach or influence people widely: The media are covering the speech tonight.
3. pertaining to or concerned with such means: a job in media research.

not that.

i’m talking about this thing we call media when we say its a “pillar of democracy.”

one in which experiences and realities can be shared with one another for mutual benefit

one that will promote and foster people who are willing to take risks for the raw naked facts of how we live, how the world works, and where and what problems we have as community, as a society and as a world…

one that delivers real truth in whatever form that may take: an article, a graphic, a video, or a joke

it will always be subjective.
it will always have a bias.
but thats the nature of stories and thats what makes them beautiful.

a healthy media should be a collective echo chamber, for all of us to hear, share and compare our stories.

so i decided to go to this thing in boston. i used the money i was saving to buy a moped to drag my ass around LA, and got myself a 2-way plane ticket and admission to this conference and went.

in my gut i knew i was meant to be there, despite the inevitable voice of cowardice and self-doubt which kept reminding myself that i had no idea what i could do to help… am i just another idealistic “20-something” with a short attention span and anxiety issues? am i simply trying to reconcile my thoughts between the residues of idealism that was fostered by my education, and the reality of our broken shoddy society? am i gonna be interpreted as a whiny brat with a college education, complaining about the ills of our society without having done anything herself?

maybe. but i don’t care.

who i am doesn’t change the fact that our media is polluted

it’s polluted by special interests.
it’s polluted by money.
and it’s polluted by egos.

…all this pollution is preventing me from hearing all the diverse voices of my community.

i already have the tools, the knowledge and the power to do something.

but where the hell do i begin? who has the time, the resources and the desire to take this on with me? and isn’t it futile? doesn’t it feel completely and utterly hopeless to try to fight these influences from invading our media? these questions have haunted me, eaten its way inside of me for a very long time–

But it stops now.

the national conference for media reform gave me the sense of purposeful confidence to stop the cycle of self-denial and doubt that plagued my ability to become my own healthy medium.

i have never seen such a large community of powerfully hopeful people who love and care so much about their communities. these people dedicate their lives to fight for our own suppressed and silenced voices, and attending this conference made me feel guilty that i wasn’t already doing more to defend the human right to expression. it put a magnifying light on my pitiful excuses and i was finally able to see with my own eyes that i need to stop fearing failure.

since all i need to do is show up.
all i need to do is show up to observe the world around me, then find ways to tell ugly truths in the most beautiful or eloquent way possible. i don’t expect to be successful in any way i could quantify, or to do something on my own that could miraculously bring an end to a world sick with greed, intolerance and bloated egos. all i can do is hope to challenge them and create some dialogue about how we can make our tiny crowded planet a better, happier place to live for everyone.

i am ready to write
to draw,
to speak,
to dance,
to organize,
to do whatever it takes to tell stories.

i’m a foot soldier for truth, and i’m here to observe.

Tim Wu "The Rise and Fall of Information Empires"

This is why I’m going to the National Conference for Media Reform (NCMR) 2011. The technology of my generation is the internet. A tool that powerfully promotes innovation, collaboration and creativity, allowing millions of people access to knowledge and efficiency in an unprecedented way. Its consolidation and monopolization of it is inevitable, history tells us, based on every previous example of a big human leap in technology. The essence, the freedom of the internet will be lost…unless we fight for it.