By Eric Fung
This weekend, you don’t have to be an activist or a radical to learn about the workings of independent media. Just come as you are.
The second Alberta Independent Media Convergence will take place in Calgary from Oct. 19-21. There are a number of events scheduled for the weekend, including discussions, workshops, and presentations on independent media and its future.
"Independent media really gives a lot of people a lot of different things," said Brandon Goldsmith, an event organizer. "There’s a stereotype of independent media being the voice of activists, but there’s more to them than that."
The convergence was organized to accomplish a number of goals. One of these is to celebrate Media Democracy Day on Oct. 19. More importantly, however, is the job of exposing the value of independent media to the public. According to Dr. Robert Hackett, professor of Communication at Simon Fraser University and keynote speaker at the convergence, independent media has an important role to play in our everyday lives, a role that is not without challenges.
"We need independent media, but at the same time, I think they’re going to have trouble sustaining themselves in funding and staffing," he said. "In the long run, I hope they play a productive role in calling into question the biases of the dominant corporate media."
Hackett has published a number of papers and books examining links between media and politics. His current research is focused in the areas of democracy and positive social change.
"I hope that my teaching increases the level of understanding people have about the media," he said.
"The Independent Media Centres are like an organization with a common goal: involvement," Goldsmith noted. "There’s a focus on getting people off the couch and getting them involved in producing media, even without any experience, by teaching them base-level skills."
More information about the Alberta Independent Media Centre and the indy media convergence can be found at the centre’s Web site alberta.indymedia.org. The centre is also participating in the upcoming TriMedia Alliance Independent Media Conference from Nov. 8-10. For more information, please visit www.ucalgary.ca/trimedia.