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The Many Ways to Fight Back After Orlando

The last week has been hard.

It reminded us that there are so many people around the world who do not get the opportunity to feel safe. We want to extend our deepest sympathies to the friends and families of the victims in the Orlando shooting, and our deepest anger at the complex reality that allowed this killing to occur.

You, like us, might be overwhelmed by the media coverage of this shooting, and outraged by how it has been co-opted by some in racist political rhetoric. These headlines are important, because they can simplify a story that is not simple.

When you have the space, please consider deepening this conversation about the identities of the victims, the race of the victims, hatred for the LGTBQ+ community, gun control, masculinity, the personal history of the shooter, and what meaningful way we can join together to ensure that this does not happen again.

With that, we want to highlight the Queer Arts Festival (QAF), which starts today and runs until June 30th. QAF’s Artistic Director, SD Holdman, states in a message titled Orlando Furioso: “Come because you are not afraid, or because you are. You are wanted here and you are not alone.”

The programming for the QAF this year is exciting and challenging. It includes the visual art exhibition Drama Queer: Seducing social change which is leading the festival with the notion that emotion is central to the history of queer activism and that its existence in contemporary queer art is a political practice.

Those who may or may not identify themselves as part of the community targeted by violence in Orlando, will find that the history of both fighting and celebration can be seen in much of the festival content. The QAF has been moved this year to June in order to commemorate the Stonewall Riots and the enormous amount that has been accomplished by this community since June 28, 1969. We can hold those accomplishments together with the knowledge that there is still so much work to be done.

Please take this opportunity to support this vital community and question what actions we can take to end violence. Passes and tickets to events available here.

-Sydney from the Media Democracy Project

Hear from Key Voices in Community Media Next Week at the Community Media Convergence

We’re pleased to be supporting the Community Media Convergence, Tzw0CONh_400x400a conference for alternative and
community media, at Carleton University, Ottawa, November 22-24, 2015.

See commediaconverge.ca – for program details, to register, or to access live-streaming of the sessions.

Community media broadcasting is officially recognized in Canada’s Broadcasting Act as one of three pillars of the broadcasting system. It fulfils democratic purposes that are not readily met by the other two sectors: private commercial (usually corporate-owned) broadcasters, and public broadcasters, like CBC. Through the participation of ordinary people and community organizations in production, and their community-owned not-for-profit structure, community media serve the public in several ways:

  • offer a counter-balance to concentrated ownership of corporate media, and to the biases of commercial broadcasting towards ratings-driven programming that primarily serves the needs of advertisers.
  • offer a democratic platform for free speech, including grassroots and local voices not often heard in “conventional” media.
  • can serve smaller populations that would not be attractive to advertising-based media, including rural communities, urban neighbourhoods, and other marginalized groups and voices in urban centres.
  • can generate a greater variety of programming, with more openness to experimentation rather than standardized formulas.
  • offer opportunities to their volunteers for training and practice in media production.

In all these ways, community media help to democratize both the media system, and the broader society. Yet despite their legal recognition, they are significantly under-resourced and are often facing the challenges of transitioning to a digital environment.

The Community Media Convergence brings together practitioners from community radio, TV, online platforms, and video games with a social or local focus. Together they share the purpose of developing better policy for community media and networking to share skills and build practices for community media in the digital age.

Find out more at commediaconverge.ca

6 Reasons You Don’t Want to Miss MDD

Media Democracy Day is Tomorrow

With only one more sleep to go, Media Democracy Day will be taking place Saturday at the VPL! It promises to be an inspirational experience featuring visionaries and experts from a wide range of media spaces, who will lead conversations on how media is being shaped and how we, as a community, can be a part of the change.

If you haven’t already made up your mind to attend, we’ve put together six reasons you don’t want to miss out on this year’s event.

  1. Media Fair – Our fair features over 25 local and global organizations working in alternative media. This is a fantastic time for you to speak with representatives to learn more about their missions and projects, as well as how you can get involved.
  2. Explore independent media and politicsOne of our panels this year focuses specifically on the role of independent investigative journalism and critical political analysis in informing the public and empowering marginalized voices.
  3. Learn about online privacy issues in Canada – Are we being spied on? This hot topic will be addressed by a panel of policy experts who will discuss the technical, legal, and political challenges involved.
  4. Jesse Brown – Renowned journalist Jesse Brown, from Canadaland, will kick-off Media Democracy Day. His independent podcast is acclaimed for breaking critical media stories without censorship.
  5. Get a MDD perspective on #Elxn42 Hear from individuals and groups who were active in the campaign as they detail their unique experiences and thoughts on citizen engagement.
  6. Meet Others – MDD is about building community, and this inclusive event is a great opportunity to meet individuals from all walks of life who are united by a passion for media reform.

We hope to see you all tomorrow! Find our full program at 2015.mediademocracydays.ca

-Courtney from Media Democracy Days

Election Hangover: Some Sober Second Thoughts from MDD

The reveal has been made, and we’ve got plenty of questions to ask at MDD 2015

After more than 1/5th of a year of commenting on the federal election campaign, Andrew Coyne seemed almost gleeful rattling off statistics showing how Atlantic voters had decimated the Conservative popular vote relative to the 1993 election.

That was the year that the Tories were reduced to only two seats nationwide. It was also the year that the Tories raised the ire of Canadians by attacking Jean Chretien’s facial paralysis caused by Bell’s palsy. This marked the first time that an attack ad played a central role in a major Canadian election, telegraphed the future of Canadian politics and set the foundation for the future Conservative Party of Canada. The Liberals won a landslide victory that year, and tonight, 22 years later, the polls hadn’t even closed in BC when the CBC called this election for Trudeau’s “new” Liberal party. The parallels to 1993 are striking.

Coyne, a libertarian/conservative-leaning pundit, resigned his job as comments editor this weekend after the National Post rejected his personal column endorsing a candidate not favoured by the paper’s corporate ownership and editorial board. As every major Postmedia paper in the country slammed the Liberals and NDP in bolded letters highlighted by “Elections Canada yellow,” Coyne tweeted: “the Conservatives don’t deserve to be elected and the Liberals don’t deserve a majority.” He voted NDP and slammed every party (almost) equally.

For what it’s worth, the Canadian electorate seems to have disagreed with both Coyne and Postmedia, giving the Liberals a tremendous majority and leaving the Conservatives with strong but decidedly second-place official opposition status. Stephen Harper professed having “no regrets whatsoever” and accepted his renewed role as Member of Parliament, but indicated his resignation as party leader in a note issued to media [It’s a little ironic that the Globe and Mail’s much ridiculed endorsement for a Conservative party without Stephen Harper now seems almost prophetic]. Third place, Tom Mulcair, conceded his position with a too-generous humility that stood in contrast to the combative tone he carried throughout the latter half of the campaign, while Green Party leader Elizabeth May accepted her lone seat with optimism for the future along with a frustrated acknowledgement of the role that strategic voting played in her party’s weak performance.

Canada’s new Prime minister-elect, Justin Trudeau, accepted the Liberal win radiating charisma and positivity. Despite the Conservative claim that he was “just-not ready,” and the NDP claim that this was the “same old Liberal party,” the Canadian electorate opted to give Trudeau the chance to prove otherwise.

The longest Canadian election in living history has officially concluded. #elxn42 promised real change you can believe in, and it delivered change with a heavy hand. On November 7th Media Democracy Days will be hosting independent media makers and progressive opinion leaders, such as Jesse Brown of CANADALAND, Leena Minifie of The Indigenous Reporting Fund and Ricochet, and Jamie Biggar of LeadNow. The people have spoken and Stephen Harper is removed from the PMO but when the dust settles on #elxn42, where do we go from here?

-Matthew on behalf of Media Democracy Days

Stay tuned to our social media for more updates on MDD 2015 and find our program at 2015.mediademocracydays.ca

Program Announced for MDD 2015

Join Us On Nov 7th for MDD 2015

We’re over a month and a half into this election, with three weeks left to go. And if you are feeling a little fatigued over the media coverage, the party fights, the talking points, we can’t blame you.

In contrast to the way elections are usually covered, in MDD 2015 we want to celebrate the dedication and work of those in alternative media, in art, in issue based organizations, and in the non-for profit sector, who are working to engage Canadians and really make their mark on public opinion at the polls. There’s the overwhelming sense that this is an election to change Canada. The stakes are high, and the decision of who takes the federal office will truly impact lives across our nation.

That’s why we are excited to announce this year’s program, which will take place after the election. Media Democracy Day 2015, held on November 7th at the downtown branch of the Vancouver Public Library, will seek to answer questions about how the government of Canada was chosen, what part media played in the political decision making of Canadians, what narratives were made of Election 42, and what alternative media’s plans are to keep public engagement high no matter which party is elected.

Our day will begin with a Keynote Address from Jesse Brown of Canadaland, brought to you by the Spry Lecture at Simon Fraser University and MDD. Jesse is a renowned journalist, and Canadaland features investigative journalism, in-depth interviews, and a perspective on Canadian media that doesn’t shy away from hard questions.
Following Jesse, we will host a series of panels, including:

  • Stop Spying on Us, featuring Steve Anderson from OpenMedia, Micheal Vonn from the BCCLA, and Andrew Clement from the University of Toronto where he coordinates the Information Policy Research Program, who will address the technical, legal, and political challenges Canadians face in working to protect and defend their privacy online
  • Beyond Fear & Great Hair: Shaping debate in #elxn42, featuring Donald Gutstein, author of Harperism; Jamie Biggar from Leadnow; Anastasia Gaisenok from Check Your Head and Up For Debate; and Tara Mahoney from Gen Why Media and Creative Publics, who will reflect on their strategies for engaging the public in Canadian electoral politics.
  • Changing the Channel: News, Independent Media and Campaign 2015, featuring Leena Minifie from Ricochet the Indigenous Reporting Fund, Michael Stewart from Rabble.ca, and Jim Mainguy from Redeye on Vancouver Co-op Radio to discuss the role of investigative journalism and critical political analysis in informing citizens, empowering marginalized voices, and exploring the relationship between politics and the public good.

Stay tuned to our social media channels throughout the next month for full program details, interviews with our guest speakers and more.

The end is in sight for Election 42, and we hope to see you all on November 7, when we will examine the role of alternative media and public debate in fostering a vital media democracy movement.


Correction: In our newsletter, we misprinted Donald Gutstein’s book title as “Harperland” instead of “Harperism.”