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Commentary :: Media
Indymedia Strikes Back in the Newton Tab
29 Oct 2004
In an opinion piece published last week by the Newton Tab, Karla Hailer-Fidelman at once spoke in defense of free speech, which is an admirable thing, and trashed a community-based media group, which was an act of supreme ignorance. In a guest commentary also published in the Newton Tab, Indymedia defends itself.
[note from Pete- my only complaint is that they completely changed my headline which originally read "The professionalization of the press and the silencing of the people" Here is the article as they printed it, and below is the link to the same article on their website.]

Stidman: 'Ragtag' Web site gives a voice to the voiceless
By Pete Stidman/ Guest commentary
Wednesday, October 27, 2004

In an opinion piece published last week Karla Hailer-Fidelman at once spoke in defense of free speech, which is an admirable thing, and trashed a community-based media group, which was an act of supreme ignorance.

Indymedia, which may indeed be deemed "ragtag" by some who occupy higher stations, is an all-volunteer media outlet that provides direct access to the media for all. It is a way to give a voice to the voiceless directly, with out the intermediary of the "professional" journalist. When Hailer says the FBI shutting down several of our sites is "the targeting of stupid voices," she is insulting hundreds of contributors all over Boston, including progressive groups such as United for Peace and Justice, the Green-Rainbow Coalition, Mass Global Action and several labor unions. When you widen the scope to the international collection of more than 290 autonomous collectives, she is insulting members of Democracy Now! Radio, contributors to hundreds of prestigious publications, including the National Review, the Nation, In These Times, and perhaps the entire staff of Clamor magazine, as well as producers of Free Speech TV and the activists of the Prometheus radio project that recently brought low-power FM radio to Portsmouth, N.H.

By making her denouncements without qualification, she is insinuating that only a paid journalist has the required knowledge to report the news. At Indymedia, the overwhelming consensus is that working people can easily acquire the skills needed to report on the issues that affect them, and we work towards making that possibility a reality for all people with workshops, story coaching and learning by working together. Around half of our members work full time and work at Indymedia in their spare time, and another half are working, going to college and putting in time at Indymedia. None of our members, as far as I know, are going to school without having to work. All of us seem to be incredibly busy working people who make the time to join together and create social change through media transformation.

That is why it is extremely galling to be attacked by someone who has the extreme luxury of being paid for her writing.

At Indymedia, we encourage all of our contributors to check their facts, and when we promote an article to our center column (our newswire is open-publishing) we make sure that this is adhered to. However, Mrs. Hailer does not seem to follow the same standard. Mrs. Hailer never contacted the folks who work at, nor can I believe that she has met a representative body of actual Indymedia volunteers in other states. If she had, she would not have described us as having piercings, funny hair colors or being the ones "walking around town after the high schools let out."

Indymedia is an outlet for people who would not normally have an opportunity to speak. We are running radio and television programs as well as the Web site and also working towards publishing a bi-weekly newspaper. We have deep ties to our communities and they are always growing deeper. Being an all-volunteer group means our growth will always be a struggle. We expect to be met with resistance from organizations such as the FBI who would rather continue working with the corporate media, but it is a surprise when a smaller newspaper journalist decides to turn on us. Our best answer to folks who criticize how we write our stories is: If you don't like us, join us. Everyone has an equal voice in our organization.

We invite the public to read our site and judge for themselves.

Pete Stidman is a member of Boston Indymedia.

[To see the article to which Pete is responding, go to ]
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Re: Indymedia Strikes Back in the Newton Tab
30 Oct 2004
Thanks for being out there Pete. The world needs IMC desperately right now. I wish everyone could understand the great boon bestowed upon humanity by a group of people willing to give their time to open up an environment of real dialogue. As a struggling parent, I just wish I had some money or more time to contribute. Where are people's hearts? Has it gotten so bad that people can't see that Indy Media is one the most positive things happening in the world? It blows my mind. Long live the revolution of consciousness!!!
Re: Indymedia Strikes Back in the Newton Tab
30 Oct 2004
Oh the travails of media professional who have sold their souls at the company store! Free speech is free, unfettered by subscription fees or licensing requirements. Corporate information is not free speech. We are all paying for it with the great expense of the truth. I'll take my chances with the unpaid postings of people in the field rather than believe the flotsam and dross passed on as corporate media news. Long live the people's media revolution!!!
Re: Indymedia Strikes Back in the Newton Tab
30 Oct 2004
Much thanks to Pete Stidman for writing this reply to one of the most ignorant, ludicrous, and embarrassing pieces of writing I've ever seen in my life. Countering ill-informed sophistry with rational facts is always a breath of fresh air for the reader.
Re: Indymedia Strikes Back in the Newton Tab
31 Oct 2004
thanks steve

(i bet the attention only encourages people like this, but it was worth sending in that letteR)
Re: Indymedia Strikes Back in the Newton Tab
31 Oct 2004
So many people call me Steve I begin to think its a sign, maybe my name really is Steve! Thanks for the comments folks, and thanks to whoever originally posted Karlas original article, I doubt I would have seen it otherwise.
Re: Indymedia Strikes Back in the Newton Tab
31 Oct 2004
Good for you from someone on the opposite side of your political stance! The independent media, whether left-wing, right-wing or centrist, religious or otherwise, is being crushed or derided by the big guys. So thanks for speaking out.
Re: Indymedia Strikes Back in the Newton Tab
31 Oct 2004
Sorry to hear that the dissertation-like original title was shortened to one that would fit in a newspaper column. Newspapers aren't really the place for long winded social commentary anyway.

I don't buy into the idea that Karen Fidelman (fiddleallabout, fiddleallabout) is really dissing all those other larger and well established organizations when she disses the IMC. That would imply that these other orgs are the caretakers and providers for the IMC, there to defend it to the bitter end. At best these larger groups are just occasional affiliates, more like IMC acquaintances. I never saw any Rainbow Coalition when I went to the Lucy Parsons Center.

Also, 100 to 200 some odd people is not a large number of bostonians unless we are talking about highly influential bankers, media owners, and corporate ceos.