Jennifer Whitney

Exemplary IMCs

Exemplary IMCs, in no particular order, that make me proud to be an occasional Indymedia reporter:

Bolivia: Many collective members are involved in the day-to-day struggles of the region and have earned the trust of social movements. They broadcast a weekly radio news program in association with community-run Radio Wayna Tambo in El Alto, and provided all-day live coverage of last year's national referendum on natural gas, with around 15 reporters calling in with updates and interviews from 7 cities across the country. They also host video screenings. I went to one that was attended by about 80 people, 95 percent of whom were indigenous Aymara. Before the screening, the IMC organizers poured several pounds of coca leaf on a table--much appreciated by the audience. In addition, they are working to get donations of computers from the United States, not for their own use, but in a true act of solidarity, to give to an Aymara community on the Altiplano that requested them.

India: An interesting site, though not frequently updated, and with a fairly low level of participation. Certainly, internet access is a luxury on the subcontinent, and only 60 percent of the over-15 population is literate. Content is almost exclusively in English, also a luxury. So though I don't think that the site accurately represents what's happening in India and who is making it happen (a near-impossible feat for any one site to do), it still has good writing, generally constructive engagement in comments sections, and information I would be hard pressed to find elsewhere.

Urbana-Champaign: After buying a downtown post office and transforming it into a community center, organizing successfully to prevent the local police from buying tasers, and playing an instrumental role in voting out a corrupt mayor, it's exciting to imagine what the folks at this IMC might do next. Well, actually, next up they are helping launch a community radio station that should be broadcasting in June. Their website covers local and global issues, and often features people signing what seem to be their real names to their work. Overall, they are truly embedded in their community, and provide valuable resources in terms of trainings, open debate, and lots of media. http://www.

Global: An excellent overview of the world's Indymedia, this site is incredibly useful, perhaps in large part because there is no open publishing--all posts are selected by editors. The editorial collective is accessible and responsive to stories pitched to them, and they are in the process of refining this process to make it even easier. With both Spanish- and English-language features teams, and with the birth of US Indymedia siphoning off a lot of US-dominant traffic, this site has truly gone global.

North Texas: With broad relevance to a diverse population, the site has everything a good community paper should have--news, book reviews, opinion pieces. The quality of writing is consistently high but not academic, using accessible language without lingo or mysterious acronyms. Coverage is primarily of local events, with a smattering of regional, national, and international items. It also serves as a message board, with announcements about such things as community garden plots available and biodiesel fuel for sale.

San Francisco Bay Area: With a carefully edited website laden with news, Enemy Combatant Radio streaming, and the year-old monthly newspaper Fault Lines, the Indybay IMC is one of the best. The site is well organized, easy to navigate, and provides broad coverage of issues. Many collective members are involved in a slew of local struggles, and it shows.

NYC: Publishes The Indypendent, a biweekly newspaper with a circulation between 12,000 and 15,000. Its editors are highly skilled and work closely with writers. Their war coverage has been some of the best in the country, scooping several stories that even daily papers with high-salaried staffs missed. The website receives similarly attentive editing.

Ecuador: Covers a broad range of local, national, and international news, with minimal reprinting of corporate articles and very little spam or diatribe. Frequently updated and carrying excellent coverage and discussion of major issues, such as the recent ousting of President Gutierrez and the rise of neighborhood assemblies.

Manila: Very well-written articles predominate on this site, and people actually sign their names to their work! Lots of radical analysis and less focus on protests is a welcome change.

UK: With a weekly radio program on a community arts station in London, an erratically published newspaper, the Offline, and frequent video screenings, the UK (that stands for United Kollektives, by the way) team is on the case. Web stories range from action coverage to analysis to announcements and updates, with thorough coverage of national issues, and a broad smattering of international news. This site often features the lovely convention of an independently written article followed by links to corporate media coverage of the same topic, for folks wanting contrast, more info, or confirmation of facts and data. I wish others would do this more. They also encourage people to correct mistakes in the comments section, and, if notified, the editors will post the correction in the original article when appropriate. The UK site has also been, since its inception, the place to go for resources on longer term organizing of mass actions, whether they be local May Day protests, international days of action in other countries, or the upcoming G8 summit in Scotland. The writing is excellent, even on the newswire. Though its vigorous hiding of articles not meeting their editorial guidelines has been controversial in some circles, could it be that having the newswire tightly edited may push people to do better work in order to get published? I find the UK IMC site to be consistently one of the best. Though I do wish it weren't pink. http ://

Argentina: In Buenos Aires, Indymedia set up shop for a while in a squatted building-formerly a bank and now a community center opened by the Cid Campeador neighborhood assembly. The association with the political birth of the squat has meant that participation among the unemployed, as well as the neighborhood, is high, although the physical site has shut down. Since the financial collapse in late 2001, participation on the website has come from a broad sector of the population, who have used it in their efforts to govern their own communities.

Brazil: One of the few Indymedias to do proactive investigative reporting, it's truly a political force in the country, to which municipal and state governments must occasionally respond. The center column is translated into three other languages (including, incredibly, Esperanto). They have a broad network of reporters, translators, techies, and radio stations spread across the enormous country.

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