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Jay Sand of Direct Action Media Network
The Internet allows for direct multimedia in ways that two or three years ago were impossible
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Jay Sand of Direct Action Media Network
The growth of independent media has followed the explosion of the Internet
 real 28k

Jeremy Simer of the Seattle Independent Media Centre
The Internet gives independent media makers a global distribution network
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Friday, 14 April, 2000, 19:58 GMT 20:58 UK
The revolution will be webcast
Editing video at the Independent Media Centre
The TV generation wants to televise the revolution
By BBC News Online's Kevin Anderson in Washington

It has often been said that the revolution will not be televised, but independent media activists intend to make sure it will be webcast.

During the protests against the World Trade Organisation in Seattle, Indymedia.org logged a million and a half hits, according to Jay Sand of the Direct Action Media Network.

Protesters in the streets of Washington hope to continue the momentum from Seattle, and about 400 independent print, TV, radio and internet journalists hope to make sure that the whole world is watching.

And using the web, they will get their message out by any media necessary.

Freedom of expression

The internet has opened up another distribution channel for independent media activists.


The warehouse home of the media centre
Low-tech surroundings hide a high-tech operation
"The internet enables people to have an incredibly direct connection to their audience," Mr Sand said. "It is not the same as going through a corporate entity, or a government entity."

He sees it as true freedom of expression.

Indymedia.org has a very open publishing policy, said Manse Jacobi, webmaster for Freespeech.org. "Anyone can upload material."

Most of the material was uploaded from the independent media centre in Seattle, but they also had material uploaded from around the world including India and Mexico, Mr Jacobi said.

Truly multimedia

Mr Sand said the freedom of the new technology has really energised the independent media community, and they have embraced it.

The media centre in Washington may be in an unassuming warehouse, but it is filled with high-tech gear.

Mr Jacobi said that in Washington, journalists connected to the media centre will be:

  • using digital video cameras to shoot footage of the protests to create video documentaries
  • using a bank of 10 computers to digitise video and audio and upload it to the web
  • using laptop computers with wireless modems to stream audio and video directly from the streets.
They will also use traditional satellite networks to distribute video to community television stations in the US, and in addition to streaming audio over the web, they will provide broadcast quality MP3 for download.

But they will also use the internet as a virtual printing press and a communication network.

The print team will be producing a daily eight-page newsletter called "The Blindspot". The newsletter will be written in English and translated into French and Spanish, said Jeremy Simer of the Independent Media Centre in Seattle.

The newsletter will also be available on the site and also in PDF format for download so that activists around the world can easily print and distribute the newsletter.

The internet revolution


Working on a computer at the media centre
Activists believe the internet has levelled the playing field
"There is no way that this could have happened before the internet," Mr Simer said.

"The simple fact that we can put together a newspaper here in Washington DC, translate it in two other languages, and make it available to anyone around the world to instantly print out a newsletter with first-hand accounts from the streets of Washington, wouldn't be possible in any other format (than the internet), barring a tremendous expense," he added.

The independent journalists see their work as critical to getting their message out.

Lyn Gerry with radio4all.net believes that an alternative media is essential. She believes that the people that own the media have the same corporate interests as supporters of global financial institutions such as the World Bank.

"Their reporting about the issues simply won't be same as those of us from the grassroots media," Ms Gerry said. "If we do not tell our own story, it simply won't get out."

"And before the internet, there simply were no tools" for grassroots media, she said. "It has levelled the playing field."

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See also:

13 Apr 00 | Business
IMF woos protesters
07 Apr 00 | Business
WTO breakdown warning
10 Apr 00 | Business
World Bank under siege
13 Apr 00 | Business Basics
The IMF and World Bank
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