Civic News Library Listening Series May 17 in Boston

May 1, 2007


BOSTON — Sweeping changes in the technology and economics of news that create new opportunities for building community are the topic when the New England News Forum holds its first “Civic News Library Listening Series” event Thurs., May 17 at the Boston Public Library.

The 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. event is free and public and will include a Q&A session during which the audience can share ideas and initiatives at local community building. The session is entitled: “Restoring Media Trust: The News Revolution — What It Means to Your Community?”
Among expert speakers will be John Wilpers, editor of BostonNOW, the new free daily newspaper;  Ellen Hume, director of the Center on Media & Society at UMass-Boston and founder of the New England Ethnic News Wire, Callie Crossley, of WGBH’s “Beat the Press” and NPR’s “News & Notes,” and Lisa Williams, originator of, a citizens-news website for the city of Watertown and an acknowledged expert on so-called “placeblogs” — a term she’s coined and will explain.

WHO’S COMING: boston-roster


Consumer Culture: The New Childhood Risk Factor

April 26, 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007
7:00PM – 9:00PM
Suffolk University Law School
1st Floor Function Room
120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108

Juliet Schor presents

Consumer Culture:
The New Childhood Risk Factor

(From Community Change)

“Children are increasingly at risk from a pervasive and familiar source: the consumer culture. Under-resourced urban communities, particularly communities of color, are targeted by advertisers and are disproportionately affected. The influences are many: from McDonalds’ food, to violent video games, to a must-have sneaker label, alcohol and tobacco advertising, or materialist values. In this presentation Juliet Schor will report on her research inside the advertising agencies which market 24/7 to our children, as well as on the results of her study on how consumer involvement is affecting children in the city of Boston.”

Presenter: Professor Juliet Schor

Professor and Chair of the Sociology Department at Boston College, Juliet Schor is the author of the national best-seller,The Overworked American: the Unexpected decline in Leisure, a book widely credited for influencing the national debate on work and family. She appears frequently on national and international media, and profiles on her and her work have appeared in scores of magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and People magazine. Schor’s latest book is Born to Buy:The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture(Scribner, September 2004)

Respondant: Susan McDonald, Program Director of the Youth Voice Collaborative at the YWCA on Consumerism and Systemic Racism

Moderator: Donna Bivens, Co-Director, Women’s Theological Center

Please RSVP Paul Marcus at 617 523-0555

BE THE MEDIA: A Mini Conference

October 26, 2006

A Mini Conference Promoting Democracy, Access and Social Change

Thursday, November 30, 2006
Time: 11:30 am – 6 pm
Lunch at noon. A box lunch will be provided
Third Sector New England’s NonProfit Center
Lincoln Plaza
89 South Street
Boston, MA 02111

From the Conference website:

“Sponsored by: Progressive Communicators Network-Boston and Third Sector New England

Co-Sponsored by: Project Think Different and the Community Media and Technology programat the College of Public and Community Service at The University of Massachusetts/Boston

The media is a powerful tool for social justice organizers and non-profits working on community and social issues, but it can also present formidable challenges, particularly for under-resourced groups. This mini-conference will help participants understand the link between strategic communications and organizing strategies, and to learn essential communications tools and techniques. More importantly, the conference will help build awareness about the Boston media landscape and ways to improve access for community and social justice groups in the future. It will include workshops, discussions, and presentations on: the use of new media technology to enhance your communications capacity; understanding current media reform proposals and their challenge to media democracy; how best to frame your stories in the media to highlight your issues; and ways to pitch your stories to mainstream media. The conference is geared for beginning communications staff persons and those who are doing communications work as part of their current positions, such as organizers, executive directors, or policy advocates.”

Register here.

Can You Hear Us Now, Verizon?

August 17, 2006

After attending a public comment hearing whose standing room only crowd testified from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., it’s expected that one will be exposed to quite a range of perspectives. And for many different reasons, and a lot of the same, a strong and unmistakable majority (49 to 8 public speakers, at my count) of the voices present rang together in strong opposition to Verizon’s appeal to plow into Massachusetts as cable providers without having to follow the longstanding rules that other providers had to meet upon entering towns.

The Cable Division of the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy met yesterday to discuss Verizon’s proposal to limit a local municipality’s ability to negotiate cable franchising agreements to a mere, and alarmingly dismissive, 90 days. In the 90 days, Verizon suggests, a town should be able to navigate the complex legal licencising process, ascertain the needs of the town, and negotiate Public Educational and Government (PEG) TV channel rights.

While Verizon representatives spoke first in a challenge to Massachusetts towns, who they claim have a “bureaucratic resistance to change,” town and city representatives, board of selectpersons members, cable advisory committee volunteers and PEG channel producers and executives from across the state followed with compelling stories to counter Verizon’s proposal.

The franchising negotiation process “is not like buying a copier for town hall,” one speaker remarked. Towns need the ability to hold cable providers accountable to their individual needs, and 90 days is insufficient time to complete all of the work necessary in recognizing what is fair to request of a massive corporation who will be using public rights of way for their own profit.

Towns such as Canton, Lexington and Westboro spoke of their current negotiations with Verizon, all far more than 90 days in. They told horror stories about Verizon’s reluctance to have open communication, the inflexibility they face from Verizon in negotiations, and Verizon’s habit of straying from the honored and recognized definitions of technical terms and language. The time it is taking to reach agreement, the towns argue, has been exaggerated due to Verizon’s lack of effort, not theirs.

Other towns, such as Northampton and Peabody, spoke to the strong desire to have Verizon enter into their towns as cable service providers. Verizon, however, hasn’t moved forward in consideration of the towns.

Cambridge Community Television and The Lowell Telecommunications Corporation, among others, gave forceful testimony from a PEG channel perspective. Were it not for the town’s ability to properly negotiate for station rights, the diverse and local programming that can be found on the channels – and nowhere else on television – would not be possible. In Massachusetts, PEG channels are vibrant and valued in their communities; many at the hearing noted that their success is in great part to the strong provisions that have been put into the town’s cable franchising agreement, and to the state’s policy that provides them the opportunity to fight for their needs. As the corporate media continues to chase profitable programming at the expense of invested and important information, the voices heard on local outlets must be supported and strengthened, not stifled.

Support for Verizon didn’t come cheap at the hearing; nor can it even be taken at face value. It’s no surprise that those speaking on behalf of Verizon’s proposed rule change have histories working for, or have been financially sponsored by, Verizon. Washington D.C.’s American Consumers Institute, a group made in part of telecommunication industry consultants who bill themselves as an independent consumer organization, showed up to suggest that the “pet projects” for which towns negotiate were unmerited or undeserved. Meanwhile, The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) allowed for money to mire their long-term interests that align with an ability to negotiate for adequate resources for their constituencies. LULAC has been sponsored by Verizon in the past and The NAACP’s current national president is a former president of Verizon’s retail division. The Metrowest Chamber of Commerce and The International Brotherhood of Electrical workers also spoke in support of the proposals on the grounds that Verizon will bring jobs to Massachusetts, but it begs the question: for every job that Verizon creates, how many are lost to other cable companies? How many would be lost to all of the other industries whose practices – theoretically left unchecked due to a muting of PEG channel ability should Verizon get its way – indiscriminately shrink work forces?

The tremendous turnout at the hearing speaks to the importance of this issue, and demonstrates that cities and towns are not willing to allow for Verizon to enter their communities without properly negotiating the agreement. The Department of Telecommunications and Energy respectfully listened to the hours of strong testimony in opposition to Verizon’s request, and now it will be the true test of their intentions as they move forward. Will they take vote in support of a giant corporation’s interest, or will they do the right thing and put the interests of the public first?
Visit the DTE’s website to read Verizon’s proposed rule and to learn more. As well, as of next week, transcriptions from the hearing will become public record and will be available at the DTE’s offices.

Citizen Journalism “Unconference” August 7, 2006

July 28, 2006

Center for Citizen Media “Unconference”

August 7, 2006
9 am – 4pm
Harvard Law School, Pound Hall

On August 7, Berkman Center fellow and Center for Citizen Media director Dan Gillmor will host a day of discussion on citizen media at Harvard Law School. The purpose is to brainstorm some key aspects of citizen journalism, including principles, techniques, tools, business models and more. The conference will be in the “unconference” format, where the audience are the experts and there are no formal panels, but rather skilled moderators and session leaders drawing out what we collectively know so we can learn from each other.

Moderators include Steve Garfield, Andrew Lih, Phil Malone, Tom Stites, Lisa Williams, and Ethan Zuckerman.

The gathering will take place at Harvard Law School’s Pound Hall, beginning at 9 a.m. and finishing at around 4 p.m. We’ll also plan to have birds-of-a-feather dinners in Cambridge, most likely hosted by several speakers, for those who want to stick around. The cost of the day is $20 at the door, to cover food costs (we’ll provide morning coffee, lunch and an afternoon snack). Registration is limited to 100 people, so sign up today!

More information:
To Register:

Speak Up, Sing Out!

April 20, 2006

You Are Invited to Speak Up, Sing Out!

Friday, April 21, 7:00 PM Tufts University, Hotung Café Davis Square T Stop, Red Line

An Open Mic Fundraiser Suggested donation of $7 at the door.

All proceeds will go to Project: Think Different, a nonprofit organization commited to using the arts and media to create positive social change. Visit for more information. Pay in advance and get 2 free raffle tickets for a chance to win great prizes including movie tickets from Coolidge Corner Theater!

Contact Valerie Hattis for more information at

Democracy and the Press: The Role of Journals of Opinion

April 18, 2006

(via Boston Mobilization Events Listings)

Cambridge Forum

A panel of editors and publishers discusses the role of "journals of opinion "as alternative news sources in the era of Internet news and individual blogs. Victor Navasky, publisher emeritus of The Nation; Jack Beatty, senior editor of The Atlantic; and Robert Kuttner, co-founder of The American Prospect, examine the prospects for small journals committed to in-depth reporting and analysis and thought-provoking partisanship. In the rapidly changing media landscape, will there continue to be a place for the non-mainstream press?

Co-sponsored by Brookline Adult and Continuing Education and the Friends of Fairsted.

Date and Time: 04/26/2006, 6:30 PM
Location: Boston Public Library, Cambridge Forum at 3 Church Street.
Contact: call 617-495-2727 or email to