Turning Reporters Into Informants

Visit Defend the Press and learn how the U.S. Army is attempting to force a journalist into helping chill the speech of conscientiously-objecting soldiers and the coverage of their statements. The case of Lt. Ehren Watada itself stands to clarify the boundaries of what is considered acceptable public speech for those in uniform – but in no way should a journalist be hauled into court to substantiate this persecution.

I had the opportunity to interview Sarah Olson during the National Conference for Media Reform in Memphis earlier this month, and was proud to be her first signatory to the coalition seeking to keep her free to report such important stories, and journalism in general free from fear of being drafted.

NCMR ’07 Ahoy

This week the 2007 National Conference for Media Reform kicks off in Memphis, Tennessee. More than 2,500 folks are expected to converge and discuss the future of media over what should be a grueling but fruitful weekend.

The day before the official start of the NCMR, a media policy pre-conference is taking place, hosted by the Social Science Research Council. I’ll be presenting on the dangers of digital radio. The rest of the weekend I expect to be running around, mic and portable recorder in hand, to gather soundbites of notables for special daily editions of Media Minutes.

One of these years I hope to be more participant than observer….

Scene Reports: California, Illinois

California: Skidmark Bob just interviewed Monkey of the infamous Pirate Cat Radio. Monkey scored an early copy of Stephen Dunifer’s TV transmitter kit and put Pirate Cat TV on the air six months ago; its 80-watt signal can be seen on Channel 13 in the San Francisco area. Programming consists of a growing catalog of DIVX .avi files on a homebrew server with a terabyte of storage, and the station is actively soliciting more content.

As for Pirate Cat Radio, Monkey says there’s about 30 DJs presently, and the dues-paying fundraising model takes care of their needs. At the end of the interview he says the station will soon “upgrade” from 220 to 1,000 (!) watts, mostly by moving to a directional antenna system. Read More

Work Noise

During the National Conference for Media Reform I was lucky enough to sit down and throw a few questions at FCC Commissioner Michael Copps in audio speaker iconformal interview-style (24:52, 11.4 MB), courtesy of Free Speech TV producer Lee Buric and John Grebe (Sounds of Dissent). As you can hear, we basically took turns in the chair.

The interruption of Grebe’s line by Jordan Goldberg, Copps’ senior legal advisor, kind of threw things off and made my own lines of inquiry a bit more circumspect (IBOC, microradio, and the future of the Telecom Act). Grebe was trying to get at the translator speculation/trafficking controversy. I felt like Copps played an adroit politician, in that he didn’t give up any substantive information. Read More

The St. Louis Experience

I cannot claim to have participated much directly in the National Conference for Media Reform, given that I was paid to observe: busy recording, editing, and uploading stuff as the radio-centric house organ of sponsor Free Press. All of the conference audio and video is now up on their server and should be publicly available within the next few days. I expect Be the Media! blog traffic will continue to trickle in for a while as well.

Personally speaking, the best parts of the conference were not even related to the event itself. Thursday night’s benefit party for KDHX at the City Museum blew minds. Think of a funhouse for adults, with live bands and beer: it puts the vaunted Arch to shame. Then there were all of the friends both old and new who’d come into town for the weekend. The ratio of extracurricular fun to sleep that was taking place should have killed me (14 hours of crash time upon return home helped). Finally, I had the chance to tag-team (with Free Speech TV and Sounds of Dissent) an interview with FCC Commissioner Michael Copps (audio forthcoming), who artfully mostly-deflected questions on microradio, IBOC, and other sundry subjects. Watching politician-sweat break out up close can be fun! Read More