Control of Public Media as a Social Justice Issue

Two major media activists from Chicago, James Owens and Scott Sanders, recently published a piece on how public control of media should be regarded as a social justice issue. Here is an excerpt from that article, which was published by Editor & Publisher:

There are excellent reasons to conceive of Network Neutrality as
a social justice issue. The Center for Media Justice made particularly
important contributions to this understanding with their document
“Network Neutrality, Universal Broadband, and Racial Justice,” as did
CMJ’s Malkia Cyril and co-authors Joseph Torres and Chris Rabb with
their statement “The Internet Must Not Become a Segregated Community”.
Both works powerfully clarify that the Internet system envisioned by
corporate and state officials would create first and second-class
Netizens. As the Net Neutrality struggle continues to demonstrate,
diverse publics must communicate and act on their own behalf to
establish and preserve a policy for digital technology based on equal

However, marginalized communities must not hope that a neutral
Internet will build a media system to meet their needs. It is time to
give up any remaining illusions of technological determinism. There is
no political orientation inherent in technology – not even a neutral
digital network. Only the creative labor of our communities and our
movements can produce the spaces we need to collaboratively create new
understandings of ourselves and our purposes; to communicate,
coordinate and act. Lacking creative action by our communities and
movements, universal broadband would only enable widespread access to a
system dominated by the same corporate and racist forces that dominate
the current system. After all, war and injustice continue irrespective
of Facebook, Twitter, and Digg. Though perhaps it seems obvious, it is
crucial to remember that it was primarily the culture of the producers
– not the users – that shaped the Internet medium (Castells, The
Internet Galaxy, 2003).

Historically marginalized communities now, at this crucial
juncture, could wield power as producers to shape the Internet into a
new media network to increase equity in media access and political
participation. Movements for media justice could struggle to develop
the Internet as a platform where marginalized communities can speak to
themselves and to wider audiences.

Owens and Sanders will be doing a workshop as part of the “Art, Access & Action” Summit on Friday. Also, Malkia Cyril will be present for the morning panel on Friday and she will definitely discuss how broadband is a social justice issue.

For the rest of the article, click here.


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