Around the web: Indymedia

I must admit to a certain amount of trepidation when approaching the Indymedia website. How could I possibly do this near-legendary resource any amount of justice in a short review column? For readers unfamiliar with Indymedia, the mission statement succinctly lays out the objective of the project. It aims to provide a media platform for any progressive struggle against injustice, meaning in practice that anyone can upload text, photographs, audio and video reports. The statement goes on to argue that this open-access approach "erodes the dividing line between reporters and reported, between active producers and passive audience: people are enabled to speak for themselves"�. The comrades quite rightly reject the capitalist media's bogus objectivity, making no apologies for the subjective and positional nature of the reports the site carries. Because of their free-ranging nature, it will come as no surprise to see the complete dominance of anti-war reports. Other than one piece on the fall-out of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, literally dozens of items cover actions from national to local levels. In the case of March 22 and the three high-profile actions at RAF Fairford, Menwith Hill and London, a series of 39 short reports give a blow-by-blow commentary, plus further demos in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Some contain extended reports in text and audio as well, and some readers have taken the opportunity presented by the website to post their own comments on the content. In the short period between my visits the site had been updated several times, to include more reports of the actions of the last week. One of these is a 'News from Iraq' feature, providing links to the recent video of captured US soldiers, pictures from the bombing of Baghdad, reports and diaries from Indymedia correspondents and 'human shields' in Iraq, and a link to iraqbodycount.net, a site dedicated to the grisly task of cataloguing civilian casualties. The website carries two sidebars that help navigate the bewildering array of current and archived material. The bar on the right is a summary of the Indymedia newswire, consisting of upcoming events and selected news. The left-hand bar is more general. The first link on the list took me to a campaign calendar with enough room for the next five years' worth of events! Needless to say, this is indispensable viewing for all anti-war activists. The next item gives the listing for Indymedia cinema screenings in central London. This is followed by the archive of Offline - a news-sheet comprising the best reports to have appeared on Indymedia in the preceding month or so. Unfortunately this publication can only be downloaded in pdf, though I'm sure a diligent examination of the site via the search engine would turn up some of the featured reports. The ongoing inquiry into the police beatings dished out to activists at one of the media centres covering the protests at the G8 meeting in Genoa is the next prominent feature. This takes the form of an appeal for footage and testimonies to expose the indiscriminate brutality of the police action. Other items here include dozens of links to independent media centres around the globe, various ongoing projects, technology necessary for uploading material, and to the more analysis-oriented Zmag site. For the technophobic, contact and support details via snail mail are also given. Finally, like the sites for Globalise Resistance and Scottish Socialist Youth, the links section is useful. It provides portals for 42 sites, encompassing anarchist video and audio sources, news and links sites, some campaigning resources and anti-capitalist websites (such as Reclaim the Streets). In keeping with Indymedia's anarchist ethos, party and organisational links are not listed. That said, the relative brevity of this section surprised me. Despite Indymedia's ruling against party propagandising, the voice it gives activists facilitates unparalleled coverage of practically every action that has and will be taking place. For sheer news volume, not even the daily Morning Star can hope to compete, never mind the rest of the left press. Like all news sources the contents should be used critically, but as a resource it is a valuable weapon in the armoury of all communists. Phil Hamilton