Nodes of Resistance: Sampling the Haitian Diaspora via FM+Internet

17 years ago(!), I left a budding career in radio journalism out of disgust with the trajectory the industry was taking. The break-point came when the National Association of Broadcasters and National Public Radio teamed up in Congress to conduct a disinformation campaign designed to eviscerate the FCC’s then-newly proposed LPFM radio service.

However, A few months before I actually quit my job, I acquired all the components necessary to start an unlicensed microbroadcast station. “System P” was a 40-watt frequency-agile FM rig that used a portable military surplus antenna mast to conduct tactical broadcasts from a wide variety of locations. You could often hear the station in Madison, Wisconsin, primarily on evenings and weekends; but since the station was mobile much fun was had taking it to peoples’ homes and public events around the country to give the public a more substantive appreciation of the ease by which it could make “the public airwaves” very real.

Another key element of System P was to provide a last-mile node for what was then quite an experiemental webcast-activism scene (today commonly known as “livestreaming”). These often manifested in Independent Media Centers during times of protest, most notably against corporate global trade deals. Activists would converge on a city to fill the streets in order to disrupt the negotiation of these agreements, and the media coverage would invariably skew toward painting the activists as violent thugs and police/other security forces as the guardians of order. But when activists gained the ability to counteract this narrative – oftentimes by live reports from the streets directly – the discursive dynamic around these events changed. Read More

Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism Saved from Eviction

Good news from Madison: Governor Scott Walker used his line-item veto power for good late last month and struck a provision that would have evicted the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism from the UW-Madison campus and prohibited journalism faculty from working with it.

Slipped into the state budget in the dead of night by an anonymous Republican lawmaker and the subject of national controversy, Walker killed the item because he didn’t feel it was appropriate to single out one particular group in such a way. Instead, he is asking the UW Board of Regents to review its policies on campus facilities-sharing with outside groups. Read More

Wisconsin’s Attack on Truthtelling

The present practices of drafting a state budget in Wisconsin is like an inverse Christmas: a drunken anti-Santa stumbles through the people’s house at the dead of night and leaves flaming bags of poo for the citizenry to unhappily discover the next morning. These come in the form of non-fiscal matters attached to the budget itself; the riders typically advance some inane personal/political cause of individual lawmakers.

A recent sad example of this practice is a budget provision which would expel the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism from the UW-Madison campus and prohibit UW faculty and staff from working with it in a professional capacity. Read More