From: John Sheridan
Subject: [NewPacifica] Re: Protest outside NFCB - Amy Goodman - Democratization
Date: Sun, 25 Mar 2001 14:32:18 -0800
The protest yesterday outside the NFCB conference drew about 25 people which was good given the threat of rain, the other Pacifica event going on earlier in Berkeley and the PG&E protest. The venue was difficult, and the sheer volume of vehicular traffic on Van Ness Avenue is pretty deafening. So after some period of time, with a few updates via bullhorn, we decided to pack the signs and go inside to hear Amy's talk.
It was a good speech, and I got to see Don Rush, Karolyn van Putten and Steve Yasko up close. Ugh. In any event Amy was very compelling. I was listening for specific things in her speech, however, which I did not hear, though was distracted from time to time by organizing a large number of handouts I gave out afterwards. People attending can correct my account if I'm wrong.
Amy talked about the need for independent media, and how DN! has fulfilled that role, via a number of examples of wonderful exposes and broadcasts that Amy has done. She spoke about the censorship of Rep. Major Owens playing a tape of him denoucing Pacifica's tyranny on the floor of the U.S. House, and played a tape of Mumia Abu Jamal defending DN! against the power grab by Pacifica. She talked about the growth of the IMC's during Seattle, DC, LA, Windsor and other places and times. She mentioned Juan Gonzalez, though I missed her remarks on him. This was all great. She spoke of being harassed by Pacifica management and by Epstein, Becker and Green.
What Amy did not and has not come to discuss are any structural changes to Pacifica which would lead up to a democratically elected PNB. Nor has she discussed her views, if any, on democratizing the Pacifica member station Local Advisory Boards, nor the lawsuits against Pacifica. She discussed her own union grievance for harassment, however.
I am beginning to find a motif underlying a lot of the rhetoric coming out of New York (which has parallels at other stations, including KPFA) as revolving around personalities and individuals - and much less around process. I mean that in general among the insiders there has yet to begin to be discussion of how to institute processes which will not only avert the kind of top-down theft of the network which is occurring, but also processes which will ensure a bottom-up, grassroots, listener-oriented, democratic involvement in things such as the Local Advisory Boards, which after all should be the source of the majority of any future PNB. There are other institutions in these stations, such as the Program Councils or perhaps other bodies which need directly elected listener representation as well.
Without talk of such broader and more comprehensive solutions to the crisis to energize the listeners (and of course this is very difficult without access to the airwaves), what has happened will continue to happen - people will protect turf they have fought for, staff will be split up and picked off one-by-one, disruption of programming will occur, and the listeners - the forgotten and most important part of the equation - will continue to be told that their only option is to pledge or not to pledge their money. We've gone far beyond that kind of short-term solution, and until these democratic issues become an integrated part of the vision of taking back Pacifica, we will remain rooted in fighting for small groups of people to be reinstated, but with no larger sense of the justice of why they should be reinstated, what they stand for or what the possibilities are for a greater democratic involvement in what is after all the listeners' network.
I support the local control of stations, but I don't support continuing the status quo of how stations are run vis a vis listener participation. We can't support fiefdoms, ad infinitum tenured positions and unaccountable power structures, either at PNB or at the stations themselves. I wish the leaders of the movements within WBAI including the LAB would set up standing committees to move to democratize the station as well as fight for the local autonomy they need from unwarranted PNB interference with (and in fact destruction of) the station.
We need to bring the listeners into the fight, and keep them there, not afterwards, but right now.
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