Why We Need Free Media

Free and independent journalism is under attack. From violent police suppression to corporate media censorship, the need to create and defend movement-based journalism has never been greater – especially as we prepare for May Day and beyond — see below for a partial list of Occupy media.

Last weekend, Minneapolis police charged a peaceful march, beating protesters and arresting a dozen people. As described by Occupy Minneapolis:

Videos show officers pulling several people off public sidewalks, slamming one violently into the street and deliberately censoring the mainstream and independent press. […] We had hoped to reestablish an occupation to bring attention to social and economic inequality, corporate greed, and the foreclosure crisis, but instead were met with a crackdown by the Minneapolis Police Department.

During the assault, police were caught on video violently arresting a journalist:

In a rare admission, Minneapolis Police Chief Timothy Dolan conceded on record that an officer had ¨unnecessarily interfered¨ with a KSTP news cameraman, and the news director at KSTP said that it was not an appropriate way for police and media to interact. Occupy Minnesota further describes the attack on the journalist:

Minneapolis Police Officers had grabbed onto the camera of a local reporter from KSTP. The reporter himself claims that he was assaulted. They threw his camera onto the ground and kicked it despite the fact that he had vocalized that he was with KSTP. The camera itself was ruined and his footage could not be salvaged.

Undeterred, Minneapolis Occupiers plan to re-occupy again this Saturday. But this incident is only the latest in a string of targeted attacks on journalists covering the Occupy movement. Police intimidation and violence toward journalists has been routine since the earliest days of Liberty Square. The NYPD is perhaps most notorious for censoring media and brutalizing journalists, as captured here in one of many recorded incidents of NYPD violating media freedom:

The problem is not limited to New York or any city; it is as endemic as it is unaddressed. When Oakland police casually shot a videographer with a less-lethal firearm at point-blank range last year, no significant disciplinary action was taken.

Individual police officers may be sympathetic 99%ers, but the police as an institution nonetheless uphold inequality by defending the abuses and wealth of the 1%. Similarly, those working within the mainstream media are not our enemies, but the mainstream media is no more a free press than mainstream politics is true democracy. Like politicians, corporate-financed media is controlled by moneyed interests. At the highest levels of decision-making, the mainstream media is beholden to corporate funders whose financial interests are aligned with the 1%. Objective journalism is a myth. The people who control what is printed and discussed in the media care about the same thing as Wall Street bankers: profit. As such, they are inclined to discredit and ignore any challenge to the status quo – especially the Occupy movement.

In response to the need for real coverage of our movement, independent journalists have worked tirelessly to document Occupy since the beginning. OccupyWallSt.org was one of the first movement-based sources of information to arise even before the Occupation of Liberty Square. Thanks to our horizontal, participatory structure, we are now just one of many – more than we could count. Dozens of other media sources have arisen since, across virtually every type of media from print magazines to Tumblr. While the mainstream media may claim that our movement in waning, the truth is that there far too much happening across the country and the world for one website to cover – even one focused on the Occupy movement like ours. We not only encourage people to read movement-based journalism, we also encourage anyone who is interested to get involved with existing projects, donate resources, or start making your own!

In addition to the main websites of General Assemblies, Occupy-related projects, and countless working group Twitter accounts and other social media, here is a brief list highlighting some of the active media projects and excellent sources of information around #OWS.

Author: OccupyWallSt

Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #ows is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.

Thanks! You've already liked this