I was privileged last week to attend the opening day of the National Conference on Media Reform. While family obligations prevented me from attending the full conference, the opening day definitely whet my appetite for more.
The number of people who came to listen, learn and participate in change was truly impressive. I sat on the floor in rooms crowded beyond capacity to hear, for example, the NCMR National Town Hall with FCC Commissioners Michael Copps (outgoing) and Mignon Clyburn talking about the challenges of their work speaking up for the public good in a system where cronyism abounds. Sessions included discussions on everything from how to use your phone as a tool for advocacy to creating collaborations between citizens and journalists, media policy analysis and examinations of censorship in a Facebook and Twitter world.
I particularly enjoyed the line-up for the Opening Plenary address. Actress Sarah Jones brought multiple characters to live through her amazing talent. How she is able to stay in character and speak so thoughtfully on the issues from her character’s perspectives was incredible to witness. Laura Flanders was a spirited emcee who inspired the crowd and dealt with the many unexpected mishaps (that always come with live events) with grace. My favorites from the plenary, however, were Lawrence Lessig talking about his new project Rootstrikers.org which champions the need for publicly funded elections as a way to escape the influence of lobbyists in Washington (see presentation here: http://blip.tv/file/5000937), and the Center for Media Justice’s Malkia Cyril who took on the task of rethinking what mergers could look like if they were driven by social justice and not corporate profit (see presentation here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJngI-zVrPM&feature=relmfu).
You can see video from many of the sessions here: http://conference.freepress.net/.
It was thrilling to be in the presence of such dedicated advocates.