portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary portland metro

media criticism

This sucks: the only news about the $300,000 victory for protestors is in the compost bin.

Some of the rationale for the new editorial policy is based on sweeping generalizations.
Here is one indy volunteers reasons for the new policy of composting corporate media:

"I get sooooooooooo bored of reading through a bunch of boooooorrrrrrrring corporate media reposts just to find one thing that is original and relevant. Corporate media articles are fucking boring. They all come from a perspective of "the norm", "business-as-usual", etc. Even when they are a sensational piece, the voice behind them is always this sort of emotionless robot that is just reinforcing the status quo. Corporate media does not challenge my perception of reality. It does not inspire me to do anything. It just puts me to sleep."

Others describe corporate media as a "poison", or "drug".

While I generally agree with these assessments, I think they are not always, absolutely true. Occasionally, good stories from good reporters come out in the corporate media. Watergate was first broken by the corporate media, a few years ago the Portland Tribune did that pretty good series on the police spying, and on Monday, the Oregonian had a good story on this lawsuit deal.

The article (which is now in the compost bin) had LOTS that was original and relevant, plus it had passionate quotes from activists involved. If we choose to always completely ignore the media that most people are reading, we will continue to become more and more isolated and irrelevant.

I agree that it would be better to have someone besides the Oregonian writing this story--but no one else has--and it's Wednesday. (Apart from the fairly content-less press release). So if you have to choose between posting important news from the evil Oregonian, or not posting it at all, my vote is for reposting.

Here's the link the composted story:
I saw that as well 01.Dec.2004 12:13


Yes, I thought that was a more encouraging pro-activist pro civil rights story that could have remained in public view.

i agree 01.Dec.2004 12:16

too much power

revenge of the nerds

lefty dictators of the liberal arts departments fuck up everything eventually.

Shadow 01.Dec.2004 12:38

indy reader

In all the time you've spent complaining you could have written something about why this was a good story.

Of course, I would have come along and trashed it because I think the story is crap. But I'm waiting until after the news conference to finish my critique. Anyway, if this story is important to you why not write something about it rather than just spending all your time complaining? That's not meant as an insult, but I'd like to see what you thought was good about the story. It may be of interest to me in my critique of how the oregonian article has misrepresented and distorted the facts to suit their agenda. I'd like to know what pieces were effective, or whether it was simply that their omissions haven't lead to anyone questioning the underlying assumptions of the article. So, tell me what you, or anyone else who thought the article was good, really think is good about the article.

As for watergate, you know that wouldn't happen today, all the big news stories are put into books, not newspapers these days.

And of course, I haven't heard anyone say to ignore corporate media. On the contrary people are saying to "step up" and write more criticism, or more praise. So let's not be disingenuous. It's not like people can't find corporate media, or write about corporate media, or even post corporate media. It's just being asked that people write something about the corporate media they are posting. Not so much to ask in my opinion.

Fuck Corperate Media 01.Dec.2004 13:04

I love compost

I look forward to ORIGINAL reporting from today's press conference at Alan's office.

Here's what I thought was informative in the Oregonian story 01.Dec.2004 13:17

DJ SHadow

I simply thought it was informative, and important news that should be covered here. I didn't write about the settlement becuase I don't know shit about it. I would love to read some non-corporate info about it, but there isn't any that I know of. SUre this has a slant to it, but it is definitely the most informative stuff out there at this time, and I think it should be allowed to be posted. Not doing so keeps people uninformed about this important info.

Here's a paragraph by paragraph breakdown of what I thought was good or informative:

Tuesday, November 30, 2004
INFORMATIVE: The city of Portland is poised to pay a $300,000 settlement to 12 people who claimed police used excessive force against them during the protest of President Bush's visit to Portland in August 2002 or two anti-war marches in March 2003.

INFORMATIVE: A federal judge spent at least five months mediating the claims, and the City Council is set to approve the settlement at its meeting Wednesday.

GOOD: In the two lawsuits, the plaintiffs argued that the city, Mayor Vera Katz, then-police Chief Mark Kroeker and several officers violated their rights to free speech and free assembly by dousing them with pepper spray at close range and firing rubber stingballs into a crowd. Those who brought the suits used videotaped footage to support the claims.

GOOD: The total exceeds what the city has paid out for several officer-involved fatal shootings. But the city downplayed the figure, noting that the $300,000 is expected to be divided among the 12 plaintiffs.

GOOD (because it exposes how the city is trying to downplay the significance): "Our settlements historically have been few and far between in this range," said Mark Stairiker, a claims analyst in the city's Risk Management Division. "It's a big case, but when you divide it by 12, it's fairly routine."

Those who filed the suit counter that the settlement is significant.

GOOD: "We hope that getting a settlement of this size will send a message and result in some more accountability than the police have had to date," said Liz Joffe, one of the lawyers representing the group. "If they continue to attack peaceful protesters and use excessive force to suppress free speech activity, we'll come back again and again until the city recognizes it's too expensive and makes needed reforms."

INFORMATIVE: The city attorney's office has recommended a settlement to avoid the risk of a large jury award, according to an ordinance before the council. City Attorney Linda Meng did not return calls Monday.

INFORMATIVE: Political activist Lloyd Marbet was among nine defendants who filed a lawsuit against the city stemming from their participation in the Aug. 22, 2002, protest during President Bush's visit to the downtown Hilton. Police clashed with protesters outside the hotel as a Republican fund-raiser headlining Bush was getting under way.

GOOD: The complaint said police tactics represented a "pattern and practice of flagrantly violating peaceful demonstrators' First Amendment rights." Three children who attended the protest with their parents, and a teacher who was hit by pepper spray were among the other plaintiffs.

INFORMATIVE: Their lawyers reviewed more than 100 hours of videotape, some taken by independent observers and some by the Police Bureau.

GOOD: "Several officers testified that protesters were rioting, but the videos showed they were chanting, peaceful protesters," Joffe said. "These officers just showered people in a sea of pepper spray who were doing nothing but chanting."

GOOD: Alan Graf, one of the Portland lawyers who represented the plaintiffs, said the videotaped footage could not be disputed. "The videos really told the story. The city said one thing, and the video said another thing. . . . We had pictures of babies getting pepper-sprayed, and if you put (those pictures) in front of a jury, there's no telling what would happen."

REALLY GOOD: Much of the discovery also focused on the background of one officer, Mark Kruger, who was present at each demonstration. The plaintiffs accused him of being a Nazi sympathizer and sought to link that to a disdain for any "political dissent from the left," court records show. The plaintiffs' attorneys interviewed former friends of Kruger who said he had collected Nazi memorabilia and uniforms with swastikas and wore them to World War II re-enactments.

I LOVE THIS PART: Although Kruger acknowledged in a deposition that he owned Nazi memorabilia, the city argued that Kruger was a World War II buff who had interest in the German military but never sympathized with the Nazis. Kruger has since been promoted to lieutenant, and Chief Derrick Foxworth said he has "complete confidence" in Kruger.

A GREAT QUOTE: "He does have a genuine interest in history and in World War II, and I don't see anything sinister in that," Foxworth said.

Mistakes acknowledged

INFORMATIVE: According to court records, the city argued that the Bush protesters in 2002 were sprayed when they "ignored lawful orders to disperse." Yet police commanders and supervisors have acknowledged that they made mistakes and changed tactics when Bush returned for a fund-raiser at the University of Portland the following summer.

USEFUL INFO: "Over the years, we've learned from each and every incident, dating back to the infamous May Day incident" in 2000, when police clashed violently with protesters, Foxworth said. "We continue to look at what worked well and identify areas for improvement."

INFORMATIVE: Police said no safe corridor was set up to give donors attending the fund-raiser access to the Hilton and that the police perimeter around the hotel was too crowded.

HERE ARE THE BIG LIES: Police said they ordered the crowd to move back and that they tried to push demonstrators with their batons. When the protesters did not move, police used pepper spray. At another point, three Portland police cars drove through the crowd, trying to move behind the barricades. When some demonstrators leaped onto one car, two officers fired rubber stingballs at them from 37 mm single-shot guns.

INFORMATIVE: The next summer, police bused the donors into a fund-raising luncheon at the University of Portland, and set up a large fenced perimeter around the event. They also strengthened command communications, the chief said.

Anti-war actions

A second suit was brought by William S. Ellis, Randall C. Lyon and Miranda May stemming from anti-war protests on March 20 and March 25, 2003.

GOOD: According to the complaint, Lyon, an engineer for KATU television news, was struck in the right temple and shoved into his news van by two officers at the demonstration on March 20. It said May, a peaceful protester, was pepper-sprayed at close range and hit in the head on March 25. Ellis, the suit said, was slammed to the ground, assaulted and pepper-sprayed when he refused to identify himself on March 25.

GOOD: The lawyers who filed the lawsuits are members of the National Lawyers Guild. While they were pleased with the settlement amount, they said their efforts to persuade police to ban the use of pepper spray and rubber munitions against peaceful protesters was not successful.

INFORMATIVE: Some of the plaintiffs pledged to donate a portion of their settlements to the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center.

It was a good story with a twisted title 01.Dec.2004 13:25


Of particular note was the title, something like "Protesters Cost City $300,000."

This is a perfect example of corporate media twisting the story!

PROTESTERS did not cost the city a penny! The tyranny of the POLICE cost the city, no the citizens that hard earned cash.

This was a story that IM needs to to grab and run with.

Agreed, DJ, it's a lot to wade through. 01.Dec.2004 13:43


A book report. The editors will likely suppport the analysis.

I agree with DJ SHADOW 01.Dec.2004 13:46

Why can't the editors trust the readers

I agree with DJ SHADOW.

Unfortunately, Indymedia Portland seems determined to make itself irrelevant.

Here are three stories from the last 48 hours that have not appeared in the features or in the newswire section here in Portland: Tom Ridge resigns from Homeland Security, Red Cross criticizes U.S. for prisoner torture in Cuba, $300,000 settlement given to protestors who were beaten and pepper-sprayed by Portland police.

Should we say that those stories are irrelevant to the readers of Indymedia or should we admit that they were first run by AP, the Oregonian and the NY Times?

Let me see if I understand this new policy. If I were to post a link to the story, but I first post some editorial comment or media criticism, that makes it okay?

If I write, "This story seems to be accurate, though it first appears in corporate media." is that sufficient exorcism? How about if I write, "Okay by me?" Or, if I'm trying to be succinct, "Word!" Perhaps, "Written by official voice of the empire."

I don't have an unlimited travel budget or near-infinite resources. Some of the stories currently appearing on the newswire are from CBS News, NY Times, Yahoo News. Yet they are about the situation in Iraq, stun guns, the U.N. and other news from around the world.

Given a choice between reading that news - with a handful of salt, if need be - and reading such original writings as "Prophecy, November 29th" (and by the way, could someone recommend a good naturopathic therapist for Brent Herbert? A compassionate editorial staff would have told him that people given to delusional ravings can be helped without medication or confinement.), I will be happy to read the international reposts.

Put a label on them if you will. Call them "reposts". But sending them to the compost bin makes as much sense as combining glass and rotten tofu and plastic, as Tom from Astoria points out in another thread. We don't do that in Portland. Or anyplace that values good compost.

I value original and local reporting. I value Sami's messages from Palestine and the reports from the Parry Center.

But please stop the silliness. (And the name-calling, in one thread. Geez, disagreeing with an editorial policy doesn't make one an agent of the state.) Or make it explicit that this website is going to be so pure that it it will be irrelevant to most of the world. Including those of us who intend to change that world.

There were other headlines wrtitten for this story in the "corporate media". 01.Dec.2004 13:49

baby, bathwater, whatever

"City to Pay $300,000 in Protest Settlement" was the AP and KATU headline I found and reposted to compost.

thanks Shaow 01.Dec.2004 15:31

indy reader

Though I don't think your analysis was that great it has helped me come up with some new angles for my critique. I hope you enjoy reading it, and more importantly that it makes you think more criticially about corporate media in the future. I'm going to take some time tonight to rework it a bit but hopefully it will be published tonight.

. 01.Dec.2004 15:31


"But please stop the silliness. (And the name-calling"

Pot meet kettle...

response to "Mother" 01.Dec.2004 16:32

regular reader

You wrote: "This was a story that IM needs to to grab and run with."


You just don't get it, do you?? It's not up to "IM" to do anything. It's up to YOU and EVERYONE ELSE to run with this story. IM is just the forum for where to post stories. IM does *not* run with anything. That's up to YOU.

And yes, i'm picking on you because of that ridiculous "coping with the loss" comment you made on another article. Shit!

there is a rebuttal for everything 01.Dec.2004 17:08


still with this huh? corp. media is easy to find, your no champion for thinking just because something isn't posted, your the only one that discovered it...on yahoo. C'mon dude. We're awake remember?

Here's something a little bigger then all of us, I think you should see what stages we are coming to with your own eyes...I think then you might agree, YOUR words/voices are much more important and desperately needed, even if you're rehashing the points.

Remember "the power of nightmares"(BBC video), that's nothing when your read the lies and distortions that are circulating amongst "conservative christians". I won't link out to the source article from here(yes I've been watching the real propaganda-we all need to), but this will turn you white(well, not really, but it should concern you). Read the petition, this section comes from a popular conservative christian news portal, start waking people up!

"The Justice Department has been so whipped by ACLU and its fellow travelers, that it lacks the will to prosecute treason and sedition. For this reason, I am encouraging the House Committee on Un-American Activities be reinstituted to investigate and spur prosecution of seditious activities. We must send a clear message to the fifth column within our nation, that their illegal activities will no longer be tolerated. The Left screams that I am attacking their freedom of speech, but all I am asking is that the law be enforced.

The Left refuses to accept any consequences for their actions. They live in a Peter Pan world, believing they may break our laws with impunity. For them, war is merely a game, and an opportunity to relive their rebellious youth. Others do not have the luxury of embracing the delusions of Leftist utopia. Others risk their lives to protect the rights and freedoms of us all.

Mother responds 01.Dec.2004 17:09


Dear Regular,

I know who IM is. Why are you reading something into this that is not there?

My guess is there are hundreds or thousands more readers than writers here. That is the way it is. We can't all create original works on every issue that comes to our attention. I have done some original writing here under this name and another pseudonym. Have you contributed?

What is your beef with missing the old format? It had/has value. It is ok if IM wants to refocus. They are paying the bills and running their site as they see best. Just the same, the old format had some merits that will be missed. Can't you accept such a simple premis?

Why are you being so crabby anyway?


don't set yourself up 01.Dec.2004 17:31

indy reader

I remember from my studies of psychology that in experiments where people were asked to predict their feelings about certain events and then compared to their actual feelings over those events it was show that people are completely largely incapable of predicting how they will feel, with the most common error being overstating how much they think something will affect them. I bring this up because will anything be missed? I don't know, and you don't know either. A month from now people may be completely happy with the changes, or not. But to say that something *will be* missed is to create a self-fulfilling prophesy. You may only miss something because you are expecting, anticipating, and assuming that you will miss it. So, why bother with that; it's just setting yourself up to feel bad (unless you enjoy the feeling of missing something)? Why not just continue on and if a month from now you really feel like you miss all the corporate media articles write something then about how you feel.

"We can't all create original works on every issue that comes to our attention."

No, but you can, as I did, take 6 minutes to write something about a corporate media piece:

Or, if we cannot find 5-10 minutes to write a few sentences to create a viable and sustainable alternative media, well, then we are in some serious trouble.

Your a mother, haven't you ever told your kids, "don't knock it until you've tried it" or some variant on that theme?

p.s. 01.Dec.2004 17:37

indy reader

In my opinion the site looks better today and yesterday than it has in months. If we all take the time to keep it up, we'll really have something important here (well, more important anyway).

response to Mother 01.Dec.2004 18:10

regular reader

You ask: "Have you contributed?"

Thousands of words and hundreds of photos over the last 4 1/2 years, providing coverage of more events than I can recall, in this city and others. I don't like working hard on stuff just to see it pushed off by reposts that took someone 2 seconds to post.

My "crabbiness" is about the continued misunderstanding of what Indymedia is for: empowerment, freedom, breaking away from the old system and creating a new one. The "merits" of the site pre-corpo-composting were quite outweighed by the noise and the passivity it helped encourage. I hear people talking all the time about making a new world, but see very few people willing to fully commit to that; most still hang on to the old one, making this or that excuse that's really just a justification for not trying.

So... 01.Dec.2004 18:12

yanqui latina

So If I am to understand correctly (and granted, i'm quite tired at the moment) you are encouraging news articles to be more subjective. Not that i'm claiming that corporate media is objective; but we then change the article by putting in what we think about it. how does that do anything? So i can tell people what they should be thinking instead of the oregonian or however doing the same thing? Sure, it would be great if we could all go out and report on the breaking news of the day, but most of us have to do a lot of menial tasks during the day to survive in this society and can't be everywhere at once (my budjet for last minute trips to the mideast, Latin america and the rest of the world is pretty slim). Perhaps more crusty punks should do indymedia stuff<not insulting said crusty punks>. So instead i will read something in the news, tell you what i think about it (because you care for some reason) and that makes it ok. Offering a subjective analysis of something that has recently happened is fine; but first people need to know, as objectively as possible, what HAS happened.
Or can i just change the wording like i used to do with stuff out of the encyclopedia for reports when i was a kid?

clarifications, perhaps 01.Dec.2004 18:31

indy volunteer #742

"So If I am to understand correctly (and granted, i'm quite tired at the moment) you are encouraging news articles to be more subjective."

No, you are not understanding correctly. The issue is not one of subjectivity at all.

"So i can tell people what they should be thinking instead of the oregonian or however doing the same thing?"

You could do that but what I want to see are your thoughts, what you are thinking. Let the corporate media tell other people what to think; I just want to read what you are thinking, your observations, your analysis, your story.

"as objectively as possible"

There is no such thing as objectivity. Corporate media doesn't try to be objective; they try to perpetuate the illusion of objectivity. Their real goal, as any other corporation is to make money. Objectivity is a lie; anyone that makes that claim is lying to you, and perhaps to themselves.

"Or can i just change the wording like i used to do with stuff out of the encyclopedia for reports when i was a kid?"

Plagiarizing corporate media is just as bad as long as you're perpetuating the same omissions, the same assumptions, and the same conclusions (this is called "spin"). If you read something you like or don't like, write about why you like it or don't like it. That is what is of interest to me and to others. That is what I want, to empower you to tell your story. That is what indymedia is for, that's why it was created: to offer people an avenue to tell their stories without the corporate filter. Use it. If you don't like it than find something that inspires you. Empowering people to tell their stories, through whatever medium (writing, audio, video, speaking) is what inspires me. That's why I do this work.

get over it! your position lost! yer with us or against us! 01.Dec.2004 18:34

Ken Spice spice@inkemail.com


There are a lot of really snide comments on the board today from the pro-composting folks. Just a few from this particular thread (plenty more in others):

"your no champion for thinking just because something isn't posted, your the only one that discovered it...on yahoo. C'mon dude. We're awake remember?
" Umm, I don't remember anyone arguing that corporate articles are important to help the self-esteem of the poster. Straw man anyone?

"still with this huh?" Yeah, that's the purpose of this thread. Did you read the initial post? Or are you simply saying "your side lost - get over it!"?

"In all the time you've spent complaining you could have written something about why this was a good story" Yes, we should each do original reporting. No sense relying on "reporters". And we should wake up, dig a well, and draw our morning water. No sense relying on "plumbers".

Happily, in a society we co-operate so that each doesn't have to be all.

Yeah, I was also snide. Sorry. I'm a revolutionary too, y'know... I'm as down with critique of the corporate media as the most strident composter. I understand Chomsky's "Propaganda Model" and I see how the fascists have perfected its usage. The system we find ourselves living in is rotten, top to bottom, and the corporate media is one of the stinking rotten pillars.

Here we are, life, the real world, the only chance we've got. It is pure posing, in my opinion, to ban "corporate news" from the indymedia newswire. There is information there that is unavailable elsewhere.

I'll say it again, please let it sink in for a moment! There is information there that isn't available elsewhere.

Sometimes, that information belongs on the newswire. Yesterday's "corporate news" about the City's settlement with protesters is a fine example, I still can't believe it sits in the compost bin. I am embarrassed that it does.

The list of reasons why an article can be "hidden" has continued to grow since the view simple guidelines we put in place to start this site. Much like government bureaucracies, it seems, collectives need to keep passing more and more laws and restrictions, seemingly for no other reason than to justify their own existence. Every time the excuse is the same - "to reduce the signal to noise ratio". Makes you wonder who the junkie is, and what exactly indymedia will look like when they reach pure-signal nirvana. Here's hoping Indymedia users remain more diverse in thought and creed than this particular set of editors.

Full disclosure: I don't live in Oregon at the moment. So what?

Ken 01.Dec.2004 18:49

indy volunteer #742

"There are a lot of really snide comments on the board today from the pro-composting folks."

There are plenty of snide comments from those opposed to the policy, yours included.

"There is information there that is unavailable elsewhere."

Sure, and when that's the case someone should post it. Is it too much to ask people to spend 5 minutes saying "I haven't seen this reported anywhere else and I think it is important because..."

"I am embarrassed that it does."

Why be embarrassed, you didn't put it there, and I'd bet that those that did aren't embarassed.

"The list of reasons why an article can be "hidden" has continued to grow since the view simple guidelines we put in place to start this site."

Yes, some have said that it would be better to have a policy that just says autonomous individuals will make decisions about content or soemthing to that effect. Interestingly enough, it was your name that came up in discussion to take this route and add an item to the editorial policy.

"Here's hoping Indymedia users remain more diverse in thought and creed than this particular set of editors."

Well of course they will be more diverse, since there are more of them. The question is are they going to stop visiting the site. I'm willing to bet the site continues to grow as it has the past several years. These same conversations and objections were raised, as I'm sure you remember, over the creation of the compost bin. People said it would be "the end of indymedia", and that the site would be "ineffective and obsolete". Yet what was reality? So, once again, the question is raised, to what lengths shall people go to be effective in their work.

My advice Ken, is to relax and see how things turn out. If the site is less effective you can feel free to come back and gloat about how you were right. If it is more effective, then all I ask is that you simply keep contributing. Thanks.

to anonymous indy volunteer 01.Dec.2004 19:02

Ken Spice

I'm very relaxed thanks! And I have no desire to gloat. I just think you're making a bad choice.

no gloating here, only watchful protective concern 01.Dec.2004 20:05


We don't want to gloat. We love you guys and gals. ;-)

We're just concerned that's all.