Meeting Minutes from inSPIRe Social on March 29, 2008

We had our third social event of 2008 at Shamah and Dave s home in West Seattle. We had a nice turnout with approximately 35 guests to hear our guest speakers Susan Gleason, Jonathan Lawson and Fran Korten. Thanks so much to Shamah for opening up her home!




Earth Hour 2008 inSPIRe participated in Earth Hour 2008. Earth Hour 2008 was a remarkable global event, and in towns and cities across America people "turned out" to lend their voice to the worldwide call for action on climate change. On March 29th, people everywhere turned off their lights to make a statement, to help find new ways to reduce their impact on the environment, and to start a movement that ends with a solution to the common challenge we all face. Millions of Americans in Chicago, Atlanta, Phoenix, San Francisco and dozens of other communities large and small joined mayors, citizens' groups, schools and corporations from coast to coast. Around the globe, people on five continents took part, from Albania to Zimbabwe, Bosnia to Uzbekistan, and Canada to Uruguay. Our formal inSPIRe program was held in candlelight, which besides making for an enjoyable setting, showed our recognition that very doable small changes in our behavior can take us a long way towards combating global warming.


Seattle Statue of Liberty Fundraising Paul Carr provided us with an update of efforts regarding the restoration of the Statue of Liberty on Alki: Paul and Libby lead efforts that far exceeded fundraising goals for a new base for our new lady. Congratulations for a job well done by the Libby and Paul!


SCAN TV Marshall Parker, the Executive Director of SCAN TV, is a new inSPIRe member and provided us a briefing of their work. SCAN provides facilities, equipment and management of the public access channel on behalf of the citizens and residents of Seattle and areas of King Co. SCAN cablecasts on channel 77 on Comcast Cable & 29 on Millennium Digital Media. SCAN is a non-profit, 501(c) 3 organized to develop outlets for diverse expression and community development through access to training, media tools and distribution channels. SCAN is contracted by the City of Seattle to manage the production facilities, educational programming and cable television channel the community access channel. SCAN offers independent program producers & originators, and non-profit organizations or community groups cable television channel time on a lottery basis. SCAN Cable Television Channel 77 / 29 reach the greater metropolitan area of Seattle and into South Snohomish County providing programming on basic cable into over 400,000 subscriber homes. The SCAN website regularly receives over 9,000 unique visitors and over 20,000 page views each month. Additionally, SCAN provides classes, workshops, skilled professional support, program promotion and community resources to help individuals and organizations create and distribute their programming. It is essential for local communities to have access to powerful media reach; and the Federal government has provided such a mechanism in cable access channels. Collectively termed 'PEG', the public, educational and government channels are often the only local television provided to and for communities. By helping local residents learn to use the video language and media, SCAN promotes community discourse, information sharing, outreach, storytelling and presentation. Marshall and SCAN invites all of us to become a part of the SCAN community which in its breadth and diversity helps the Seattle area better understand itself.


inSPIRe Book Club! We are now reading The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman for our next meeting, April 16th. To join the book club and get on the list, just send an email to


Keynote Speakers: Susan Gleason, Jonathan Lawson and Fran Korten.



Jonathan Lawson is Executive Director of Reclaim the Media ( Jonathan directs online communications for SEIU Healthcare 775NW, sits on the advisory board for the Consumers Union's Hear Us Now project, is a Board member of the Washington News Council and a four-year veteran of the Independent Media Center movement. Jonathan has worked in community radio since 1986 and co-hosts the music program Flotation Device on KBCS in Seattle.


Susan Gleason is also a founder of Reclaim the Media as well as Media & Outreach Manager at YES! Magazine ( Susan has nearly twenty years as a media activist, media-maker, trainer and community organizer, is involved with the Seattle Independent Media Center, has served on the SCAN Community Television board and is a founding director of Earth on the Air Radio Works and the Vashon Island community webcast ( Susan has also DJ'd and worked as a radio producer.


Fran Korten is Executive Director at YES! Magazine/Positive Futures Network. Fran joined YES! in April 1998 after serving for 20 years as program officer at the Ford Foundation's offices in Manila, Jakarta and NY. Fran has worked on the development of community-based approaches to the responsible stewardship of natural resources, as well as working on policy and institutional reform with leaders from governmental, nongovernmental, and academic sectors. Fran taught at Harvard University and the National University of Ethiopia and served as a research associate for the Central American Management Institute (INCAE). She holds a PhD in Social Psychology from Stanford University.


Jonathan began our program discussing the large movement that exists today to bring about media change, including the efforts by Reclaim the Media. Based in Seattle, Reclaim the Media is a small nonprofit organization dedicated to pursuing a more just society by transforming our media system and expanding the communications rights of ordinary people through grassroots organizing, education, networking and advocacy. RTM envisions an authentic, just democracy characterized by media systems that inform and empower citizens, reflect our diverse cultures, and secure communications rights for everyone. RTM advocates for a free and diverse press, community access to communications tools and technology, and media policy that serves the public interest. inSPIRe members are encouraged to join the RTM mailing list at


Three broad themes guide RTM projects:

1. RTM works to change media policy at the local and federal level, so that the structure of our media favors the public interest, rather than a powerful elite.

2. RTM teaches media literacy education because we all need to understand how news can be shaped by journalistic habits and by powerful commercial and political interests.

3. RTM supports community media because we cannot entrust our history, our cultures and our democracy to the consolidated media empires alone.


Jonathan showed a video of highlights from the recent FCC hearings held in Seattle. The hearings were to gather public input in regards to the FCC s plan to loosen federal government rules in regards to media consolidation. The Republican controled FCC panel, with (3) Republican appointees vs (2) Democrat appointees, have repeated attempted to allow greater mergers and monopolizing by Big Media. Since the airwaves are public, the FCC holds these public hearings, but in reality the current FCC majority is not interested in public input. Evidence of this was shown in the FCC only providing (5) days notice of the public hearings. Still, over 1,100 people atteneded in downtown Seattle. Lasting over nine hours, and drawing attendees from as far away as Salem, Oregon and Missoula, Montana, this turnout was the largest in the nation. Approximately 99% of the public input was against greater corporate control of our media. Today, five corporations own more than half of our media outlets (Clear Channel, Viacom, etc.).

Public input repeated urged for greater diversity in media ownership and efforts to encourage small communities to have a voice in their local media.


Kevin Martin, the Republican Chair of the FCC Board who headed this meeting, was nothing short of disengenuous in his running of this public input meeting where he had zero interest in what the public had to say. Proof of this is that only two days after the hearings Martin had an OpEd piece he had authored indicating the FCC s decision to loosen the ownership rules published in the NY Times. One doubts that he hadn t written this editorial long before the public had our chance to speak. Then, just two days later, the FCC released their offical plans to loosen the rules, beginning with loosing rules with cross-media ownership (newspapers, radio, TV, etc.) the America s top five urban areas, which impacts 48% of our countries citizenry. The new rules also include obvious loopholes which will likely allow future greater corporate consolidation of the media.


These recent events are a vivid example of the need for this continued movement at the local level to oppose consolidated corporate domination of our media. This movement is working to protect media diversity, localism and competition, as well as to promote local involvement and media justice. Jonathan provided inSPIRe with a handout from the Media Action Grassroots Network, or MAG-Net (


This handout included MAG-Net s ten point platform for media justice:


1. Representative and Accountable Content. Free speech is eroded when one powerful group of voices dominates the media. Racist, sexist and homophobic diatribes broadcast over the public airwaves are hate crimes perpetrated against entire communities. Media must provide fair representation and offer opportunities for all people to participate.


2. True Universal Media Access: Full, Fast, and Free for All. In today s modern technology environment, access to high-quality communications should not be dependent upon geography or demographics. Public-supported infrastructure should be expanded, and private networks must be held to broad and strong public-interest standards.


3. Public Airwaves - Public Ownership. It s time to bust the corporate monopoly over our broadcast and cable networks. We need more public-supported media that are authentically accountable to local communities, and independent from both commercial and government editorial pressures.


4. Community-Centered Media Policy. Media regulations should promote universal media access in the public interest, rather than protecting the economic interests of entrenched corporate media. License and franchise terms should be limited, and held accountable to effective local community oversight. New media diversity rules are needed to increase media ownership and participation among historically underrepresented communities, including people of color and women.


5. Corporate Media Accountability and Just Enforcement of Media Rules. Federal government regulators must have the resources and the will to effectively sanction media outlets and networks that violate the public interest and the public trust.


6. Redefine and Redistribute First Amendment Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes clear that the right to communicate and gather diverse opinions through all media is fundamental and universal to all people. We should reframe our understanding of the First Amendment in this light, and hold all media and telecommunications policies to this high standard.


7. Cultural Sovereignty and Self-Determination. Copyright and intellectual property regulations should protect the rights of artists without enclosing new and collaborative forms of independent creative expression. Private media owners must not be allowed to abuse their power as cultural gatekeepers through payola or other schemes that hinder independent cultural development.


8. Full and Fair Digital Inclusion. Beyond Internet freedom and Net Neutrality, we need a digital communications policy framework that closes forever the digital divide, provides students with full access to new media technologies, and holds private telecommunications providers accountable to the evolving needs of diverse local communities.


9. Another Media is Possible - If We Fund It. We need more public funding to support alternative media infrastructure, independent media production and distribution. Philanthropic funding should prioritize regional and statewide organizing around media issues.


10. Full and Fair Representation in the Movement for Media Reform. Media reform, properly contextualized, is a strategy for achieving social and economic justice. Media justice values must obtain at the center of this movement, and activist leaders from traditionally underrepresented communities must be at its forefront.


Jonathan next discussed upcoming media and communication policy issues. These included maintaining adequate media ownership rules, expanding low-power FM community radio, guaranteeing Net Neutrality/internet freedom, municipal broadband, DTV transition, PEG/video franchasing and open networks for handheld devices. Net neutrality is the principal that says that one can check out a website without my internet provided being able to restrict my website choices. Jonathan then urged inSPIRe to be active with responding to our local media outlets. Local media institutions do respond to activism. We need to hold them responsible to report accurately and unbiasedly.


Fran Korten then asked us what kind of media do we want? Fran discussed efforts that people can take to get involved. YES! Magazine, where Fran is the Executive Director, has the theory that change comes from the bottom, not the top. Grassroots efforts are what it takes for change. We activate change through showing people where they fit into something that is bigger and how they can impact this. The upcoming National Conference for Media Reform ( this coming June is an example of a grassroots effort to make a difference, as is the upcoming Green Festival in Seattle on April 12/13 (


YES! s current issue, of which Fran brought multiple free copies for inSPIRe, is on global warming. When YES! did a global warming issue in 1999, no one seemed interested. But today there is great interest. YES! tries to help people understand what the solutions are and what they can personally do, I.E., to make the necessary steps understood to be yes, this can be you! . This is a bottom-up process (as is inSPIRe!). The production run of YES! s latest issue is 70,000 copies. They also receive 90,000 visitors to their website each month, as well as having 12,000 educators using their materials in their teaching efforts. Fran encouraged inSPIRe members to sign up for the free YES! newsletter at


Susan Gleason continued the discussion on the need for community discussions as part of the necessary social movement to change things. Susan s work at YES! includes working to get the magazine into the hands of people that can and will put this information to work, getting it to key individuals and organizations. Susan asked inSPIRe to let her know who are prime candidates for her to reach out to with the materials from YES!. Please provide your input to Susan at


Q Who are the YES! writers?

A The YES! staff includes many excellent writers. YES! also includes pieces written by many leading writers and activists from many different locales.


Q What is the cost of a subscription to YES! magazine?

A The standard rate is $24 a year, but over the internet one can subscribe for $19. This $19 does not cover the cost of the magazine. Over 1,300 of YES! s readership provide additional contributions and YES! also pursues funding through foundations.


Q You did not discuss the print media too much tonight. It seems there is a demise of newspapers is this true?

A Yes, newspapers are in some trouble. Advertising rates are decreasing as more people advertise for free on internet sites like Craig s List. But newpapers are exaggerating their difficult circumstances. There has been a strong trend away from the historic family-run newspaper towards corporate ownership. These new parent corporations are demanding much higher profit margins then the old family-run papers. It s becoming more and more just about profits. And as newspapers decline, the questions include where will this journalism go? as well as who will be doing the lost reporting? The bigger question is how will we get more resources at public media? The future of journalism may just be with non-profits.


Q Will a new Democrat administration be able to reverse the recent FCC rule changes?

A If the Democrats win, they will get to appoint a three member Board majority. But to reverse the policy, this really lies in Congress. Congress has been willing in recent years to reverse what the FCC has been trying to do, but the Republican leadership in the House would not let the issue come to a vote. Corporate lobbyests still rule.


Q How can people like us help to reclaim the media?

A Work to form a positive relationship with your local media professionals. You can influence them. Personal relationships lead to action and to change!


Q Can you discuss the recent demise of PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting? They have gotten really heavy with their advertising.

A There are two main problems. First, they have suffered from their position as a quasi government body at CPB. Ken Tomlinson, the Bush appointee to head the CPB, came in gunning to get Bill Moyers. Tomlinson lost, but this is an example of the politcal influence at CPB. Second, PBS is hugely underfunded and thus have to engage in massive fund-raising efforts. Can PBS be saved? The jury is still out.


Q How do we go about making comments to reign in the nightly disaster news that our local TV stations focus on?

A Local stations do listen to their viewership. You can get on advising teams and such things as monitoring projects. Most stations have a very low budget and it is hard for them to be successful. We need to keep contacting them to tell them what we want to see and hear. Don t call and yell, but rather work to form a good relationship. Blogs can also help.


Q Countries like England/Britain outfund the US 10 to 1 with public broadcasting. Why can t the US do better?

A We must do better. The Britain example with public media is just one of many.



As always, many, many questions were asked but not recorded. Sorry!


Many thanks to Jonathan, Susan and Fran for their informative and important talks!


See you at the next inSPIRe meeting!


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Speakers: Susan Gleason, Fran Korten and Jonathan Lawson



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