More than three thousand journalists, media activists, bloggers, and students gathered in Memphis Tennessee over the MLK Jr. birthday weekend, for the third annual National Conference for Media Reform. Jesse Jackson, Bill Moyers, and Jane Fonda were among the featured speakers. A common theme was mainstream media's lack of diversity, war coverage, and political issues such as net neutrality, and the FCC (watch all conference videos here).
There were workshops on bridging the digital divide, media policy, and hip-hop activism. As a journalist, I was interested in learning more about the grassroots movement, and networking with other media makers who are interested in citizen journalism.
This is what Leonard Witt (PJNet) wrote about the three day conference:
People of every age and every ethnic background all in one place, many of whom are making their own media. Get the Right into the mix and this is what newsrooms across America should look like. The result would be more stories from inside many more communities. However, it would be messy. No unified idea of what news is. No unified agreement about how to cover various communities and no unified agreement, whether conscious or not, which communities get the most and least coverage.
I met, and got to hang out with actor/activist Danny Glover, Blip.TV's co-founder Dina Kaplan, and I learned more about the emerging online, and independent media organizations like The Real News, Free Speech TV, and Spot On. There seems to be a strong grassroots media movement being fueled by the Internet, and those involved are serious about challenging the mainstream.
Memphis has a lot of history. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, was shot and killed at the Lorraine Motel in 1968. The site is now home to the National Civil Rights Museum. Memphis is also home to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, and if you like live music, and the party scene, Beal Street is the place to be.
The videos are coming. For now, see what hip-hop activist Davey D had to say about independent media, and reform.