.:jennifer evonne heyning:. (exoterica) wrote in good_old_boys,
.:jennifer evonne heyning:.

The future of free speech: FBI raids Indymedia's servers in UK

Indymedia said yesterday's raids were part of a wider pattern of "attacks" against independent media outlets by the US Federal Government authorities over recent months. Last month the Federal Communications Commission shut down community radio stations around the US. (read about Santa Cruz and Knoxville).

"While Indymedia is not exactly sure what prompted the action, the group does have one strong idea. A French Indymedia site last month posted photos of what it believed to be undercover Swiss police officers photographing protesters at a French event. Indymedia received a request from the FBI to pull those photos down, as they "revealed personal information" about the undercover police, said Indymedia press officer Hep Sano."

How and why are the FBI connected to French protests?
And the larger question: Is there an organized effort to silence independent media outlets?

When working for two media networks (one regional, one national), I witnessed both the struggle to maintain free speech and the powers that want to put a stranglehold on the airwaves. Talent and producers are frequently told what news they can and cannot report, and many voices have been silenced for speaking unwanted truths.

ClearChannel and the top media networks have been engaged in an all-out war for the airwaves ever since the FCC started easing restrictions on the number of stations a single entity could own back in the Reagan era. Bush Sr. and Clinton kept that trend going, and by 1996 the path was set and the bidding war started for the airwaves. Today over 90% of the radio stations, newspapers, billboards and television stations are owned by a small group of companies, Clear Channel being the biggest of the bunch. With over 1200 radio stations, TV in every major market and half of the billboards in America, you probably see or hear a Clear Channel message every day.

Why does this matter? If our media outlets were unbiased there would be no issue, but we are in a media war between the "liberal" and "conversative" networks that completely ignores the vast majority of voices in this country. For example, in an election year candidates are required by law to be given equal access to free airtime, yet just last week Bush was given 50 minutes of network time for what amounted to a campaign speech in Pennsylvania (thank you insomnia for keeping me informed). This pep talk played particularly well on ClearChannel stations, whose heads are close friends of the Bush family.

ClearChannel and other one-party system networks have created a thin veil of influence by careful selection of direct, honest pundits who will give you the straight talk on what to think here in the USA. While Nader, Cobb and the motley crew of independent presidential candidates shuffle over to Pacifica stations to reach a few listeners, new networks who try to offer the lowdown at street level are being squashed.

Meanwhile independent voices, the same movements that brought us women's suffrage and the civil rights movement, are now forced to go back to the streets and risk arrest again to drop banners, wave flags and get their message to the people. Yet very few people will ever know about their efforts; they cannot help but be tuned in to the wrong channel.

This is our country and the "freedom" our leaders love to spout about. This is what's at stake on November 2nd and every day of the year. So if you see me wearing my WHO OWNS YOUR NEWS? t-shirt two days in a row, try not to judge me for being a fashion criminal. I'm just trying to be the media for all those voices have that have silenced.
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