Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Indymedia: A Visit to the Truth Optional Planet

Many activists initially welcomed Indymedia as an alternative to the commercial media, as a way to give a voice to the voiceless. For local issues in particular, Indymedia had the potential to inform and engage in a way the commercial ventures had failed. Years into the Indymedia experiment, its failures are clear.

Many IMCs have failed completely and exist only as an archive. This has proven to be a dignified end. Others languish on life support, awaiting the merciful pulling of the plug as they fill with commercial spam. Some Indymedia have fallen under fascist control, where only the politically correct dare express their opinions. At these sites, the far left has gone full circle to the point where its become indistinguishable from the far right. The San Francisco Indymedia Center, Indybay, has become a forum for hate speech and truth optional reporting masquerading as "free speech".

Many local Israeli activists have found themselves viciously attacked on Indybay for crime of being Zionist in public, and daring to support Israel's right to exist. They find themselves subject to lies, harassment and intimidation in an effort to suppress their voices. Adding insult to injury, when they attempt to respond to the charges brought against them, they are simply deleted, as Indybay allows no dissent. For Indybay in general, and for Micha in particular, I recommend a visit to The society of professional journalists code of ethics (http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp)

You may want to pay particular attention to these guidelines:

* Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
* Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
* Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
* Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
* Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.

Roll that around your collective conscience, Indybay:

"Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant."

That icon of the left, Noam Chomsky said "If you don't believe in free speech for those you despise, then you don't believe in it at all.". It is precisely through cross cultural communication- through open dialog and the sharing of information and ideas that differences can be discussed and resolved. Censorship eliminates this possibility . We should be encouraging engagement and communication rather than creating artificial barriers.

Just something to think about Micha- do you want to be a real journalist when you grow up, or just another kid with a camera?

And in the meanwhile, bloggers, if you want to post on Indybay, remember these few simple rules:

1. Address anyone you don't agree with as a "right wing conservative"
2. No historic sources that contradict leftist philosophy are admissible.
3. Insist that all the worlds problems could be solved through the destruction of Israel
4. And when in doubt, know that the editors will run interference for you, and remove any dissent


  1. Rules for posting on Indybay:

    I'd add one more :
    If any Jew anywhere, anytime commits any trangression, call them a "Zionist" and hold all Jews everywhere collectively responsible for their actions.

  2. This is too true! I have a large folder of comments I made at Indybay.org that have been deleted, none of which violated their editorial guidelines as far as I could tell.