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Stateside: Santa Cruz Media Strategy Summit (1)

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Santa Cruz Media Strategy Summit, Part 1

Friday’s inclement weather did not dissuade about 200 supporters of the alternative media movement descending on California’s “people’s republic of Santa Cruz”, as it has been known since the Sixties, for the Publicizing Truths with Consequence three-day conference. An appearance by Elizabeth Kucinich at the opening briefing discussion was replaced by a phone call from her husband, Dennis, who that day had announced his withdrawal from the presidential nominating process.

Earlier in the week, Kucinich had been asked to withdraw his words in the House of Representatives that “the Bush administration led the Nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated,” but he minced no words in his phone call: “Bush lied 935 times in the run-up to Iraq,” he said, referencing the recent report released by the Center for Public Integrity. Media monopolies set the agenda, said Kucinich, and independent media is “the last best defense that we have to protect our democracy. The work that you do [at this conference] in creating strategies… is important.”

Brad Friedman of speaks at the opening session of the Santa Cruz Media Strategy Summit, January 25, 2008

The format of the summit is such that speakers will be doing double duty as key resources in the affinity group breakouts over the weekend, and Brad Friedman will be focusing on News Source Development. The founder of one of the best-known blogs on the Internet, Friedman stressed that getting the Ohio recount issue picked up by the NY Times was because “We had the truth. We had the facts. We had the affidavits. We had the case.” Successfully raising the profile of issues that are overlooked by mainstream media can only come with that kind of thoroughness.

Elizabeth de la Vega, author of U.S. vs. George W. Bush et al.

Former federal prosecutor Betsy de la Vega said that what the independent media is doing equates to an attorney standing up in court and saying, “Objection! Misstatement of the evidence!” Corporate interests know that the best way to mislead people, she said, is to “shade the truth or imply something. That’s how you persuade people.” Citing the study in a famous case where many people saw a woman being stabbed but none of them reported it, de la Vega pointed out that there is a strong tendency for individuals to think, “If nobody else is doing anything, then it mustn’t be that bad.” There’s really nothing more important than saying “This is not being done in my name,” she said.

In response to a couple of audience questions, Friedman urged people to look beyond presidential politics as a source of political action. He especially decried the tendency of people to say they’re “wasting their vote” if they vote for someone with a smaller following. “It’s not a bet. You don’t get a prize. Vote for what you believe in,” he urged. Most of all, “We need to step up and start running” for local offices.

PNN (the Personal News Network) is covering the summit here.

…to be continued…



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