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[] Media & War - report from the belly of the beast,

Weiter unten ein interessanter subjektiver Bericht von den
Protestaktionen der Medienaktivisten in den USA. Ihre Forderung, ganz
entgegen der Mainstream-Meinung: "Zeigt uns die Leichen!"

Dazu kam auf einer Journalistenliste kürzlich der folgende Hinweis:


Daraus auch ein Zitat von Kurt Tucholsky, über das es sich nachzudenken

"Man zeige einmal alles: man zeige die Nahkampfaufnahmen, die in allen
Generalstäben existieren, man zeige, wie Leute fallen, hinsinken, sich
auf dem Boden zerquälen - man zeige Trümmer und zerfetzte Pferde, denen
die Eingeweide herausquellen, vergaste und brüllende Menschen,
hingemordete Jünglinge und blutende Männer. Man zeige das, und es wird
sich herausstellen, ob die Menschheit, die phantasieloser als böse ist,
sich nicht erhebt und nach diesen Verlusten, nach diesen Leiden und nach
diesen Schmerzen in millionenfachem Schrei etwas zurückweist, das nicht
sein muß: das Verbrechen des Krieges."


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [CRIS Info] Media & War - report from the belly of the beast
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2003 17:20:24 -0500
From: Sasha Costanza-Chock <schock -!
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To: "'Crisinfo -!
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 org'" <Crisinfo -!
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CC: "'wsisyouth -!
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CRIS Info is a public list for information and questions about the
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Hello all,

If I've disappeared from the lists for the past couple of weeks it's not
of lack of interest; the organizing against Bush's war here has been
and there has been a lot of movement specifically around the media
See the report that follows ... sc


Reportback from March 22nd 'Show the World the Bodies' affinity group:
street strategies for building a mass movement for media justice

The March 22nd mobilizations against the war confirmed for me the
of the streets as a site for building momentum towards a truly
democratic movement for media justice in the United States.

A small group of us from Philly spent a frantic last-minute day trying
organize a media-focused convergence before the main United for Peace
Justice event, a 'Show the World the Bodies' feeder that would start at
corporate headquarters on 8th ave between 33rd and 34th st., then move
join the permitted march for the afternoon.

We made a call to action and sent it out over various lists, made 1000
copies of a flyer to hand out on the street, picked up cardboard TV
(originally created for the Richmond FCC hearing action) and signs, and
wrote a full page of chants focused on the corporate coverage of the war
('Shame, CNN, Shame! War is not a video game!;' 'Surgical strike? Lies!
Hype!;' 'Embedded reporters? New World Order!;' 'Show the World the
etc.) We pulled together two carloads from Philly and arranged for some
the left press in NYC to come by and cover the action (WBAI, Public
TV, NY IMC). Late that night, Bike Bloc agreed to change their route to
swing by the action.

Despite the last-minute loss of half our Philly people (Earl's car was
erroneously towed by the City), the action in front of CNN HQ went off
pretty much as planned.  Our group was smaller than we had hoped, with
about 15-20 people for most of the time; the three cops assigned to
CNN at first tried to make us leave but eventually settled for letting
march back and forth without blocking the entrance. They threatened
if we used the megaphone. The coverage and interviews we had arranged
beforehand all worked out and WBAI broadcast us live. We learned later
CNN reported protests in front of its offices in NYC, LA, and Atlanta
apparently had 3,000 people!). The action in front of CNN HQ culminated
the Bike Bloc ride-by at 12:50. About 100-150 cyclists slowed to a crawl
they passed by in a fleet that stretched for a city block, hooting and
joining in our chants. The best was yet to come...

At 1pm we joined the main body of the march. By that time the crowd
stretched from Times Square all the way down to Washington Square, so
'march' was more of a standstill alternating with a slow crawl. As we
the NBC satellite van around 32nd street, we realized instantly that
was where the real action against corporate media sanitization of the
would be. We had a drum and a megaphone, some kick-ass chants, and a
group of 8 people who had memorized them all earlier in front of CNN.
turned out to be the perfect ingredients for mass street-level education
focused media protest.

As waves of thousands of people slowly passed by the NBC van and
cameras, we
engaged them with 20-second crash-course education on the
media-industrial-military complex:

"Right next to us is the NBC satellite feed. NBC is owned by GE. General
Electric manufactures weapons that are being used in Iraq as we speak,
they are already negotiating for multimillion dollar contracts to
'reconstruct' Iraq after the war. Do we trust a network that is
from war to report truthfully on war?" (NO! roars the

"Do we trust embedded reporters to provide a picture of what war really
looks like?" (NO! ...)

"Do we want to see war covered by computer simulations and sanitized
animations?" (NO! ...)

"Do we demand that the media show the whole world the true costs of war,
widespread destruction, the horror, the casualties, the dead bodies of
women, and children?" (YES!)

"Show the World the Bodies! Show the World the Bodies! ..." 

The crowds joined in, roaring the anticorporate media chants and in a
deconstructing the orwellian newsspeak (surgical strike, collateral
embedded reporters, target of opportunity, etc.) with short, sharp
that spread up and down the avenue in waves.

We stayed in that spot for the next 45 minutes, repeating the process
and over until the line of riot police that marked the end of the march
swept us down towards Washington Square park. All told probably 20-30
thousand people picked up these chants. Most interesting was the fact
often, a new wave of people wouldn't join in until I had done the short
spiel on GE-NBC, at which point you could see and hear the 'click' of
comprehension and anger.

Once we reached the park, the police locked in a huge mass of people
filled the streets around the perimeter. An NBC cameraman was
live feed from the balcony of what looked like a residential building
overlooking the park. We quickly got this crowd amped for the
media chants, but as soon as the cameraman noticed, the camera was
off. With the megaphone I asked the crowd to quiet for a second, and
called up to him: 'Hey, we know it isn't your fault, you're just a
cameraman.'  I joked with him 'How about it, we'll chant against FOX
of NBC, you guys cover know right now you're losing in the
ratings...we all win...' he cracks a smile but shakes his head. We step
up a bit: 'Why don't you turn the camera back on and send out the feed
shows what people really think of the corporate coverage? Turn the
on! Turn the camera on! ' (4,000 people join in: 'Turn the camera On!
the camera on!') After about 20 seconds, lo and behold, he turns it back
We move into the other media chants. 

While the media as target was not a central story in any of the major
or network coverage, a lexis-nexis scan of stories, wires, and
reveals that it was indeed a significant subtheme even in the corporate
press. That was especially the case with the 3,000 person protest
CNN (LA). It also appeared repeatedly in NY coverage. Of course, the
was spun well: the most important demands of the protesters disappeared
were replaced by a narrative that 'protesters were protesting the
of the _protests_.' Covering it this way allowed CNN to simultaneously
appear 'objective,' almost gracious ('see, we'll even cover protests of
coverage') while removing all trace of the core demand: show the world
human cost of the war.

What does all of this mean in terms of building a long-term, grassroots
movement for media justice in the US? In my analysis, it's not hyperbole
say that the moment is ripe as never before to shove media justice onto
center stage. It's like a giant low-hanging fruit. The anger is
many who have come out to protest the war as their first organized
activity have a strong sense that the media isn't doing a good job but
really have an understanding of the conglomerate nature of the giant
firms, or the conflicts of interest with arms manufacturers,
'reconstruction' contracts, etc; they don't know anything about the FCC
consolidation process. But they are primed and ready to grasp it all
instantly, in just moments, in the streets - and to focus their anger
demands on the corporate media for accountability, and I think also
on the political system for better media regulation.

At this moment, if one or more of the major antiwar coalitions that have
emerged were to call for a day of action targeted specifically at the
corporate media, it would do more to build the media justice movement
anything in history. A large permitted march with tens to hundreds of
thousands of people, a series of speakers, sharp chants that mock the
newsspeak and a series of specific demands for accountability would be a
massive adrenalin infusion to kickstart the movement. Even in the worst
scenario, where the momentum of the antiwar movement dissipates rapidly
US takes Baghdad, the major coalitions might not be able to mobilize
hundreds of thousands for such an action but will still be able to
thousands or tens of thousands. 

We need to do everything we can to try and get United for Peace, MoveOn,
ANSWER, or any other major coalitions to sign on to a day of protest
on the corporate media. 

In the meantime, at every mass protest, teams of media activists (this
best with minimum 3 people: one megaphone, one drummer, one person
flyering) should be ready and waiting at the satellite vans,
chants memorized or in hand, on a flyer with key information on
media complicity with war, FCC reregulation, alternative news sources,
media justice organization contact info. 


Sasha Costanza-Chock

MA Candidate

Annenberg School for Communication

University of Pennsylvania


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