Indymedia dissertation


A general overview will be offered of alternative media definitions of Indymedia. Then theories that attempt to explain the process of news production within corporate media will be looked at, like News Values or the Propaganda Model.

It is to be noted that this study will mainly be based on American (specially South American) and European (specially British and Spanish) practices. There is some parallelism with the structure of the existing research about commercial media, since most studies on this subject come from Western rich economies, namely Western Europe, Canada and specially the USA. Following this line, it is also to be noted that Herman (in interview with Peterson 1997) argues that the world’s media are following the trend set by the USA, so it could be argued that on focusing the research on these regions would give a reasonable view of the world’s media.

Rather than on the output of any medium, this study will concentrate on the processes and structures that bring about such content. In this way Indymedia characteristics will be looked at and compared to those of the corporate media.

Indymedia arguably comes about not only as an alternative media project, but also as a valid proposal for a different model of society.

Alternative Media

“Indymedia is a democratic media outlet for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of truth.” (from

Rodriguez (2001), observes that, in alternative media, the ideology of ‘objectivity’ is replaced with overt advocacy and oppositional practices, emphasising first person and eye witness accounts by participants. The idea is to have as many versions of the truth as possible, rather than one single voice claiming to be in possession of it, so that the viewers and readers can make up their minds on seeing events told from different angles (Indymedia FAQ).

Alternative media is not something new; even Bretch (1979) mentioned an alternative use of radio more than thirty years ago. More recently, projects have flourished all over the world, like the UK weekly news sheet Schnews or the video collective collective Undercurrents, the Brazilian TV Viva the German video group AK Kraak or the New York collective Paper Tiger (IMC UK 2003). However, it is with Indymedia that the word ‘brand’ starts to be used. (Kimcy 2004, IonNec – 06 Jan 2004, Alien8 2005)

Solomon (2000) defines the alternative as a kind of journalism with no ties to large corporations, “free of huge economic interests” (p.1).

Indymedia funds all of its activities through donations. Indymedia supports its entire technical structure on an incredibly minimal budget — only a couple thousand US dollars so far, as opposed to the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars that power the corporate media. (indymedia FAQ)

Brown (1996) states that alternative media tend to focus on community issues, as members of the community take over the editorial structure. By striving to offer alternative ideas and by avoiding corporate funding and influence, they are a critique of those who have media power.

Rodriguez (2001) regards alternative media as “citizens’ media”. By this he means a kind of journalism where the content is driven and produced by people who want to bring radical challenge to the mainstream media.

The principle of “open publishing” is an essential element of the Indymedia project. It allows any one with a computer and access to internet to publish the news they gather instantaneously at the click of a button and the filling of a form. This is posisible thanks to a software program, some times called codebase, that allows to publish news with a simple interface (Indymedia FAQ). For Planton & Deuze (2003), Open Publishing on its own means that the process of creating news is transparent to the readers because they can contribute a story and see it instantly appear in the pool of stories publicly available, as well as a response to centralisation and conglomeration of mainstream, and against created truth (Planton & Deuze 2003). Accounts gathered through open publishing are direct accounts and they do not have to be true. For the reader, it is the truthfulness of the person publishing the report that matters. Truth is not seen as an absolute but as an infinite sampling of perspectives of a given situation (Planton & Deuze 2003).

Hayton (2002) argues that the alternative media are generally linked to a community or activist group, as a response to a lack, deficiency or bias in the reporting of their issues by the mainstream media.

The beginning.

Maqui, a volunteer from indymedia uk, remembers the creation of IMC–UK:
“In the specific case of imc-uk, the group of people that decided to start the project realised that mainstream media had been carrying on a concerted campaign of misinformation and criminalisation of the UK’s social movements. Some tabloids had been publishing outrageous stories that groups such as reclaim the streets were piling up arms to take to their next street actions. It was coming to a point that this had to be refuted publicly.

“It was also felt that there was a vacuum of information about the real issue why people was increasingly taking the streets to demonstrate without being able to provide a clear discourse about the issues behind these actions. … Therefore it was understood that by creating a public space or forum in the www would help great deal in putting these messages across.” (interview with Maqui)

Pablo Ortellado, from a the latin IMC, reflects in this way: “The project of Indymedia was born of a dream, the same dream that fed anti-globalisation movement: to be a convergence for all social movements, to be against neo-liberalism and to create an alternative with social justice and direct democracy. Indymedia would have to be the porthole voice of that movement of movements course to a new society (Ortellado 2004)

Ortellado considers the 18th of June as the first effective global day of action. On that day, thousands of people converged in the City of London and had a party – or, according to the media, a riot ( Elsewhere in London, the group that had been commissioned with the media relations was streaming on the web video images that had been taken on the streets as it was arriving.

This and other practices and ideas converged in the first IMC that was officially established. It was set up in Seattle, VA, USA, by various activists in November 1999 in order to provide coverage of the World Trade Organization (WTO) protests that would be alternative to the commercial media. The centre provided up-to-the-minute reports gathered from the people who had been witnesses of them on the streets, and uploaded it to a website,, by means of an open-publishing system (IonNec 2004).

The site logged an average of two and a half million viewers every two hours Planton & Deuze (2003) (figure which was doubled during the protests in Genoa in 2002). It was was featured on sites like America Online, Yahoo, CNN or BBC Online (IonNec 2004). Although the indymedia model was not one for export at the time of its formulation, 33 IMCs appeared in over 10 countries on four continents in the first 10 months after November 1999. Today there are more than 125 different local and national Independent Media Centres (IonNec 2004), in over 35 countries, and using over 22 languages (Colleman).

The machines were not switched off after the protests in Seattle. And the site continued to be visited. People continued publishing their stories, which were not only related to what had happened on the streets during the WTO summit. The same happened to other individual sites. Following a similar line globally, when new imcs were created, there was the tendency that these new sites were no longer aimed at the coverage of one single event, but local and every day issues affecting not just a few thousand protesters, but grassroots activists (Ortellado 2004).

IMC-UK was the first indymedia to appear outside the American continent. Alien8 recalls: “in the UK we were already in the process of creating a news website when the decision was taken to get involved with Indymedia.” An important reason for joining was that “Indymedia was a ‘brand’ very early on. Far more people had heard about it than about most other alternative media … it was a growing network of news sites with a potential to exchange news from all over the world” (interview with Alien8, 2005).

With every transnational summit, with every major mobilisation, a new Indymedia was born. Groups with no more resources than their enthusiasm and a few cameras would set up a website with the help of the Free Software movement, specifically with a piece of software called Active (Hill 2003).

Expansion continued. New local groups wanted to create an Indymedi website, (see the new imc application form) and the technical people, not knowing all these new groups personally, felt they were taking a political decision of admitting new groups into the network, decision that should be made by the whole network and not by the “techies”. Documentation of such political processes, began, which included Principles of Unity, Membership Criteria, and a process on how a new indymedia would be allowed into the network.

At some points between 2002 and 2003, the rate of new application forms was two a week.

The amount of types of software (otherwise called codebases) and servers increased too. Nowadays any new indymedia has the option of hosting its pages on a server that they sort for themselves, or asking the network for space in one of the existing servers (see the ‘technical side of things’ in the new imc process), Hill 2003).

Internal Organisation


Face to face. This is the primary form of meetings, although it is the less noticed in documentation of the activities, since minuting them takes extra effort.

Email lists.

An email list is a system that allows a group of people to easily send and receive emails to and from the rest of the whole group. It needs a server (in this case named sarai) and a mail delivery software (in this case mailman). The group has a name (typically imc-group X) and an email address (typically Once set up, subscribes the email addresses that will receive emails from the group. Whenever one person sends an email to this address, the software re-sends it to all the email addresses subscribed.

While people in local IMCs organize face to face, many IMC projects have international involvement and discussion about them happens primarily through email lists and, secondarily, through chat channels. Discussions take place in e-mail lists that are publicly archived and accessible from the site (Planton & Deuze 2003). Most of them are listed on sarai (, and there are more than a thousand at the moment. Most of them are also open for subscription. The fact that they are publicly archived provides documentation on the go: every email sent to the list becomes a web page, with its unique relay location, url, and can be referred to at later time. The fact that are open for subscription means that volunteers can get involved even if they have never met face to face with the people already working.

Readers can see editorial decisions being made by others. They can see how to get involved and help make editorial decisions (Planton & Deuze 2003).


Emails are sent and stay as they are sent. With wiki, a whole collective can work on a document. The web pages are editable by any one with a login identity which is easily obtainable without the need of any one else’s approval. It is surprising that, being so open, defacing of documents in the indymedia wiki is unheard of. Again, shift from normal email communication of documents to wiki documentation process was not smooth and still today there are people who do not handle it well. This is mainly because to edit a wiki it is necessary to know the special sintaxis on which wiki is based, which is only a bit more intuitive than html coding. Another reason could be that it is necessary to edit it while online, just like another html page, and indymedia volunteers do pay for their own connections.


How To One server hosts all channels, again any one can open a channel or join an existing one. Irc has been the latest innovation on imc communication. In the beginning it was only used for technical questions, but more and more, people were using it for quick decisions and even to have online meetings, or virtual assemblies as they are called in occasions, as opposed to presential assemblies, meaning face to face meetings. Now, some face to face meetings are complemented with irc for those who can not attend but are happy to connect via irc.

Irc is also used to prepare the central column features in some indymedias, when the urgency is felt, rather than having it prepared by one person who sends it to the list and waits at least six hours for consensus.


Nowadays, the global site gets its content from the many local sites, which all work with an Open Publish policy. People, any one, can publish on a local site (Planton & Deuze 2003). Each local site has an editorial collective, which is the same collective that technically maintains the site. The spirit of the local collectives’ policy is always to highlight worthy pieces from the news wire into the middl column (Hill 2003), but the procedures can vary. For instance, in the UK, if a piece of news is considered of significant importance, it is highlighted with an article in the middle column, with a link to the original article/s. It can also have links to other websites, for background information on the issue that the piece is about. In EH (Basque Country Indymedia), it is frequent to give, in the middle column, a simple list of links of the wire articles; this way it is ensured that the editorial group’s opinion does not influence the first time viewer. The most widely used and considered the best quality way, is to give a summarised news story that links to various articles in the wire, all of which verse about the same theme. This happens often with special events like big demonstrations, where there are many people reporting on the same issue or event (interview with Txopi, 2005).

It also happens that the Alternative Media
editorial collective is asked by local campaigner groups to attend an event in order to cover it, treating indymedia like any other newspaper. The collective is free to either go and cover it or explain that the idea of indymedia is to enable campaigner groups to post their own news, eliminating the need for a dedicated reporter (we are all journalists now). In EH and UK, what is done on this occasions is, a basic text is prepared for the middle column, even though there is not too much information in the wire, but it is ready for when the information does occur. When information gets posted in the newswire, the editorial collective is ready to link it directly in the already created feature, adding minimal text (Interview with Txopi 2005).

Whenever a middle column article or feature is prepared on a local site, it appears on the right hand side column of the global page, There is another editorial team there that highlights the articles coming to the newswire by putting them on a bigger article on the middle column, although of course they are free to simply reproduce the article that was on the middle column of the global site.

The result is a network of websites offering non-corporate coverage on issues that in Maqui’s words, “are not covered at all by the mainstream … like the occupation of social spaces (squats, land for parties, etc), actions that are not too big in numbers, campaigns that mainstream chooses to ignore for obvious reasons”.

Theories of news values and the propaganda model help understand these “obvious reasons”.

Media theories

News Values

According to Branston and Stafford (1999), the media output is determined by news values that shape the selection of events as newsworthy. Some of these values are:
* frequency – a story will be included if it happened between the last issue (of a news bulletin for instance).
* unambiguity – where the characters of a news stories are either “good” or “bad guys”.
* personalisation – usually all news need to have a ‘human interest element’, and don’t tend to appear in the news if they don’t have this because it would be difficult for the audience to relate to them.
* narrativisation – news are preferred to be in narrative form instead of a theoretical explanation.

The Propaganda Model

The propaganda model was formulated by Herman and developed by him and Chomsky (Jensen 1999), (Herman & Chomsky, 1994). They argue that all news and news institutions need to get through a number of filters in order to reach the general public via the mass media. These are dominated by an elite that is able to set the agenda for them, and which manages to keep all dissent or questioning of that hegemony away from the public domain, silenced and marginalised (Herman & Chomsky 1994)

The filters of the propaganda model that can be found both in the USA and the EU media are:

Filter 1: The size of media institutions – often achieved by merging into huge conglomerations (Herman & Chomsky 1994).

The largest media conglomerate in the world is Time-Warner. It belongs to Ted Turner and includes the 24-hour cable news channel CNN, controls 40% of all US cable TV, owns fifty record labels and produces the magazines Time, Life, Money and People (‘Bigger Brothers are Watching Over You’, Mark Sommer in IPS Columnist Service, September 1996). The second one is Disney, which, like Time Warner, has global assets of $26 billion, and is hugely powerful on the UK media scene. Third is Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. He owns the newspapers The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and the News of the World, and controls satellite BSkyB television, the publishers Harper Collins and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Murdoch’s Star TV satellite service covers most of Asia and the Middle East and can potentially reach two thirds of the world’s population.

Filter 2: The profit orientation of the dominant mass media business (Herman & Chomsky, 1994).

McChesney (2000) and Van Loon (1996) assert that the media system in the USA only exists to generate maximum profit to a very small amount of investors. This assertion would be applicable to all capitalist societies too. Such a system is the result of laws and regulations made in the public’s name, but behind closed doors and without the public’s consent.

Lynas (1998) states that “newsgathering is a complex business. For any issue to achieve media publicity it must be considered by an editor to be a ‘story’”, like the involvement of a person who already figures in the public consciousness : a celebrity, politician, royal or religious leader. And, increasingly, a story must also contain human interest value. No-one can be bothered to read about abstractions, however important they may be.

Filter 3: The use for advertising as the main source of income (Herman & Chomsky, 1994).

Lynas maintains that “The human interest factor is driven by commercial imperatives. Any television show or publication lives and dies on its audience figures -either because it must sell advertising to survive, or because it must prove that it justifies the funding being given to it. And because human interest is popular, it is being given increasing priority in the news market. Often this can have a chilling effect on the reportage of other vital issues”.

Although there seems to be a dichotomy or media systems between the USA model or freemarket, commercial system, and a European model of strong public broadcasting Herman (in interview with Peterson 1997) feels that the global trend is towards the USA model.

Every media outlet shares the same principal aim: to expand its share of the market. It does this by seeking to grab and hold onto people’s attention. This is why the media concentrates so much on events rather than issues, and especially trivial, flashy and colourful events. (

News are sold in two different markets, the advertising market and the consumer market (Van Loon 1996). On this premise, commercial media, in its aim to generate profit, will want audiences that will attract advertisers (Herman & Chomsky ibid; McChesney 2000). Consequently, advertisers will demand media contentsthat will attract those audiences and will not challenge the legitimacy of big institutions (Hayton ibid). Generally advertisers have enormous power over the contents of the media and their products (Lynch 2002; Wasley 2002; Nichols & McChesney 2000).

Audiences are won through the most interesting stories of the day, i.e. with a strong picture or a good interview (Hayton ibid), focused on personalities rather than issues (Brown 1996, Nichols & McChesney 2000), with standard narratives, topicality and tired stereotypes. The most favoured news by advertising barons are those based on sports and celebrities, always politically irrelevant (Chomsky 1997).

Filter 4: The reliance of the media on ‘official’ and ‘reliable’ sources of information (Herman & Chomsky, 1994).

Lynas (1998) argues that newspapers and television – especially those operating at a local or regional level – depend on their police forces for up to two thirds of their content, more so because police have a virtual monopoly over biggest seller stories like those on drugs and crime. It is logical then to imagine that that by highlighting cases of racism, violence or prejudice on the part of the police would would jeopardise an editor’s relations with the police and therefore would probably not run them. This can actually lead to important stories never reaching the pages or television screens. In one case recently a Scottish BBC current affairs programme had got firm evidence of police racism. But the programme was never aired, because a breakdown in communication with the police would have blown the rest of the series Lynas 1998)

Hayton (ibid) argues that “most news is known in advance”, and so the coverage is planned with the agent orchestrating the event. In making those planning decisins, journalists need to work with reliable sources: press officers and experts. Therefore a hierarchy of sources is created, and those at the bottom of it will not pass through the Propaganda Model’s filters (Herman & Chomsky 1994), thereby being left without a voice.

Chomsky (1997) talks about a second level of censorship: it is not that journalists want to talk about something and are silenced. Generally they only make it to the positions where they can decide what to write after being “absorbed” by the agenda, after demonstrating that nobody will ever need to “silence” them because they will, for sure, say the right things. They will have gone through a “socialisation system” that will prevent any one likely to challenge the agenda from getting to any position of responsibility (Chomsky 1997).

As for censorship, a number of authors agree that there is no “Ministry of Truth 1984 style” (Orwell 1948) authorising or censoring each news item. There is no need to control the minds or actions for journalists. Most important is the assimilatedculture of news production (Hayton ibid; Chomsky 1997; Nichols & McChesney 2000).

The situation is not helped by the amount of graduates pouring from universities: “in the UK, with the countless thousands of new graduates compete bitterly for the few places available, and only 5,000 people managing to make a living from it in the whole of the UK, it is not surprising that few ambitious journalists are likely to make a principled stand which might compromise the upward direction of their career path” (Lynas 1998).

Mermbers of the Glasgow University Media Group, established at Glasgow University in 1974, reached the following conclusion after various cass and content analyses: “television is biased to the extent that it violates its formal obligations to give a balanced account (Philo et al, 1982). The function of the mass media would be to legitimise the dominant class (the capital, the state) thus silencing groups or activities in opposition to dominant interests.

Although it looks like these filters would only apply to big organisations, Chomsky (1997) argues that the agenda set by the elite media needs to be respected specially by smaller media that do not have as many resources. Then if a medium gets “off the line” it most probably will not last long.

The elite domination of the media and marginalisation of dissidents that results from the operation of these filters occurs so naturally that media news people, frequently operating with complete integrity and goodwill, are able to convince themselves that they choose and interpret the news `objectively’ and on the basis of professional news values,” according to Herman & Chomsky (1994).

Mermbers of the Glasgow University Media Group, established at Glasgow University in 1974, reached the following conclusion after various cass and content analyses: “television is biased to the extent that it violates its formal obligations to give a balanced account (Philo et al, 1982). The function of the mass media would be to legitimise the dominant class (the capital, the state) thus silencing groups or activities in opposition to dominant interests.

Nichols & McChesney (2000)argue that democracy needs informed decisions by the citizens and it is the role of the media to give the information to keep true democracy. Andors (1996) maintains that world problems like famine and ecological disaster do not get exposure because the corporations that own and/or control the media dictate what not to publish. So it is imperative that the alternative media expose the problems but also offer a means for people to organise and radically change the direction of things (Andors 1996; Nichols &
McChesney 2000).

She also maintains that a large part of the corporate media’s job is to misinform people, and to cover up the power structures that rule our societies, whicle promoting messages of individual competitiveness over group co-operation (Andors 1996). Media companies, not oriented to providing information that might hurt their profits, systematically censor collective struggle. It is what Herman & Chomsky call “patterns of suppression (1994, p. xv).

Chomsky (undated) presents two possible conceptions of democracy: one where the public has the means to participate in the management of their own affairs, and the means of information are open and free, and one where the public is barred from managing of their own affairs and the means of information must be kept narrowly and rigidly controlled. He argues that the latter is the prevailing conception. This is done through propaganda and the result is the manufacture of consent. This is the conception of Walter Lippmann, who was the dean of american journalists: There are two functions of democracy: the specialised class of responsible men who carry out the executive function, and the bewildered herd, whose function is to be “spectators” and who are occasionally allowed to vote one or another member of the specialised class because it is a democracy. The bewildered herd need to be tamed, or properly distracted from the real issues that affect their lives, or else cause trouble. This is done through the manufacture of consent. But the bewildered herd never gets properly tamed, so this is a constant battle. For instance, in the 30s, they arose, and so did they in the 60s. The wave of dissidence, Chomsky continues, was called by the specialised class “the crisis of democracy”. The crisis was that large segments of the population were becoming organised and active and trying to participate in the political arena. By the dictionary definition, that is an ‘advance’ in democracy. By the prevailing conception that is a ‘problem’, a crisis that has to be overcome. The population has to be driven back to the apathy, obedience and passivity that is their proper state, because organisation has its effects. It means that dissidents discover that they are not alone. In circumstances of generalised social and economic problems like homelessness, joblessness, crime, deterioration in the inner cities, declining educational standards and/or shrinking wages, the bewildered herd are likely to notice that something is not working and they may not like it. The model then, Chomsky argues, whips them into fear of enemies, to keep them diverted and controlled. But the issue is not simply disinformation; but whether we want to live in a free society or under what amounts to a form of self-imposed totalitarianism.

McChesney (2000) states that, in a self-governing society, the media system should provide a rigorous accounting of private and public power, providing reliable information and a wide range of informed opinions. If a society does not have a journalism that approaches these goals, it can scarcely be a self-governing society of political equals (also Nichols & McChesney 2000).

It is in this context that indymedia places its challenge to corporate media.

The challenge

Internet – timeless

The bulk of indymedia content lays on internet, where, with its inherent democratic and decentralized nature and freedom from official control that has made it a strong medium for civil society (Dahlgren, 1996), every reader can be a writer, and the content production and can be acted upon before, during and after publication (Planton and Deuze 2003). Thus the news value of ‘immediacy’ is bypassed

Free labour

With very few exceptions, all contributors to any part of the necessary work to maintain the websites is done by volunteers. This is valued in order to avoid the commercialisation of which the mainstream media is victim with so disastrous consequences as seen above (Cooper 2004)


While Indymedia reserves the right to develop sections of the site that provide edited articles, articles posted through the publish button (which go to the newswire, normally at the right hand side of all indymedia sites) are not edited. Local editorial collectives form to keep track of what’s been posted and clear the newswire of duplicate posts, commercial messages, and other posts that don’t fit within Indymedia’s editorial guidelines (Indymedia FAQ , IMC-UK Mission Statement and IMC-UK Editorial Guidelines). By not editing, it is guaranteed that the viewer gets to read exactly what the reporter wrote, with no filters other than not allowing discriminatory postings.


With Open publishing, users share the control over the news-gathering, selection and writing processes with producers (Preecs, 2000). This kind of journalism is based on the ideas that fund open source software (Moon 1999). Open source is based on the sharing of ideas without copyright, so that any one interested can work with it without commercial constraints (Planton & Deuze 2003).

The codebase for publishing itself is free software. Arnison (2001) argues that Open publishing is the same as Free Software: “They’re both (r)evolutionary responses to the privatisation of information by multinational monopolies. For software it’s Microsoft. For publishing it’s CNN. For both software and publishing it’s AOL Time Warner”. And because it is free to copy and to alter it, If they can think of a better way for the code base to help shape editorial decisions, they can copy the software and change. (Arnison 2001)

In the same spirit, all content of the indymedia websites is copyleft unless otherwise stated by the author (indymedia FAQ)

Copy left and Open Publish are tools that effectively avoids the profit orientation element of the mass media.

According to the IMC faq, One long-term that volunteers may have when joining would be to enable people to realize they can take control of other aspects of their lives that they previously left up to ‘experts’ or ‘professionals’ – and this is instead of recurring to established experts like academics or the police. Most Indymedia work through open publishing, i.e. allowing and showing grass roots reports from the streets, in a way that a reader’s own individual narrative is considered to be of higher value and authenticity than a report from a distance (Planton & Deuze 2003); let alone from a corporation. This bypasses the hierarchy of sources.


Being independent, in the context of Indymedia, means independent from commercial and corporate interests (Planton & Deuze 2003), or from political parties or organizations (indymedia faq) Political parties or organizations may choose to publish articles on the Indymedia newswires, but in doing so they invite public debate about their positions from any reader of the site; any reader may respond by publishing his/her comments alongside the post in question (indymedia faq).


Hierarchy is seen as the ‘root of all evil’. The opinion of the collective is the most authoritative one (Planton & Deuze 2003). Decisions are made on consensus.


In the uk editorial collective, consensus is reached by means of a 24 hour rule: no objections in 24 hours after a proposal has been posted to the email list means that the proposal has been accepted therefore it is a made decision (Planton & Deuze 2003).

There has been heated debate as to what constitutes consensus. Although there is now general agreement that consensus does not mean that every one must agree completely to whatever proposal, every effort is made to reach a common denominator where every one can at least live with the final decision, i.e. no one would strongly object (Gulliver 2004).

Voting is in some collectives unacceptable, like in Euskalherria Indymedia. But in some others, raising hands are used to get an idea of how many supporters a proposal has and for quick decisions like, how to produce posters or where to stick them– as it is more important to reach whatever decision rather than not to produce and distribute any posters because there was no consensus as to where to put them (interview with Txopi).

In Uruguay Indymedia, there are weekly meetings and “summer rounds”, which take place from time to time. Summaries of these meetings are sent to the list. On the Monday meetings there is usually an agreed agenda: first announcements, then editorials that need elaborate (they call editorials to the middle column features), news to cover during the coming week, other important discussions to hold that Monday. Other indymedias have periodical meetings less frequently than weekly. Argentina, and Rome (Italy), for instance they have meetings whenever they feel that it is necessary, and they just talk without a predefined agenda. Other indymedias don’t even have meetings and they function by email only. Others have meetings according to their interests, for instance ‘indymedia radio London’ or ‘San Francisco Bay Area radio’, ‘San Francisco Bay Area editorial’, ‘New York Newspaper group’… group meets on one date, the editorial team meets on another date, etc. (interview with Gaba)


Indymedia has no central office, and therefore we have no address, phone number or fax (indymedia FAQ). Email lists are used for decision making. A process in the form of a “global spokescouncil” enable all IMCs to make decisions that affect the whole network. (indymedia FAQ).


In conclusion, it can be said that every aspect of Indymedia seems to be a direct challenge to a characteristic of the mainstream: where the mainstream has concentration, Indymedia has diversification; where the mainstream places advertising as a main source of income, the alternative hides promotional postings; where the mainstream filters the alternative opens a platform; were the mainstream media and governments make their decisions behind close doors, the alternativ discuss in publicly archived fora, when the mainstream places copyright, the alternative places copyleft.

Indymedia aims to change society, starting with the way news are produced, and following with the ways humans interact in the production of the goods they use and consume. The different way to produce news has been described. The radical difference from commercial outlets is the denial of monetary value for the news. Not because news are not considered to have any value, but to guarantee the no commodification of information.

What was a tool for informing the world on the issues that were not reported before, or were heinously reported, has now turned into a networking tool, where activists can get in touch with each other to form coalitions or bigger groups. It is now understood that indymedia is a tool for communication for people working for a better world by challenging the structures of disinformation, in response to what Chomsky calls the manufacture of consent.

As Gaba, from Indymedia Uruguay, puts it: “I feel Indymedia absolutely like a laboratory. My experience in Indymedia Uruguay was to join more people in order to experiment new ways to relate to each other, to write, to interview, etc. We met to propose what we thought was best, and we try to resolve the problems as they come, discussing, modifying our ways of working… The experiment also changes when new people join, as they are not “polluted” with the previous process. Indymedi seemed to me an impeccable synthesis of how to make the Internet to be of real use, to be used as a tool for the social movements. It was a horizontal movement that escaped the logic of following a recipe”.


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