Monday, January 15, 2007
WINNIPEG INDYMEDIA SHUTS DOWN:
Plagued by a chronic lack of volunteers, old feuds and a never ending volume of spam from anti-semites, conspiracy nuts and campaigners for the Canadian military Winnipeg Indymedia has closed its portals for now. Visitors to the site will be greeted by an appeal for volunteers to hopefully resurrect the site at some unspecified time in the future. The problems of the Winnipeg site are reflexions of what may be a wide spread malaise amongst Indymedia sites across the world. Many question whether Indymedia sites have any more function in a world filled with blogs. Mollymew feels that they do. A blog such as this one is very much a personal statement. As such it can hardly cover the range of subjects that a truly cooperative effort such as what an Indymedia site should !!! do. At the same time blogs will almost inevitably cover subject matter that is hardly "news" in the narrow sense of the term. Websites such as Indymedias can provide a more impersonal and wider view than any blog can do. Items should obviously be reprinted from blogs on such sites as these blogs are often the news sources of our day, but the individualistic slant of blogs should have no place in what, after all, aims to be a community media/meeting place.
Molly did a little survey of the 12 Canadian Indymedia sites still listed on the internet. Five have been closed (Winnipeg makes six). Two (Montreal/Quebec and Vancouver/Victoria) are "consolidated sites". The Vancouver site has seperated off into local, national and international sections. BOTH the national and international areas are infested with the sort of neo-Nazis that were such a plague in the case of Winnipeg. The Montreal/Quebec site (CMAQ) along with the sites in Ottawa and Thunder Bay appear to have taken a hard line on the nuts. All three have a good selection of local news, especially so in the case of Thunder Bay. The CMAQ, however, gives every indication of being an almost totally anarchist oriented site. It may seem strange coming from a self-confessed anarchist that I find this inadvisable, but I certainly do. To Molly's tiny little feline mind this at once is a disservice to the larger community that should be served by something such as an Indymedia and a disservice to the anarchist movement itself. It allows an overestimation of one's own importance and encourages the isolation that breeds "triumphalism" and ill considered actions.
Two other Canadian Indymedia sites, the Maritimes and London, Ontario are still arguing about the nuts, and neither site features much local news anymore. They seem to be going down the same road that Winnipeg went.
The problems of the Canadian Indymedias are reflected worldwide. There is even a blog, Indymedia Watch dedicated, with a certain amount of malice, to exposing the problems of Indymedias across the world. What that blogger has to say, however, is not what the more rhetorical would imagine. There is more than enough wrong with what has been appearing on Indymedia sites worldwide, wrongs that deserve legitimate criticism. The blogger puts most of this down to a "lack of accountability" in that the informal leaders of Indymedias have abdicated all responsibility in terms of fact checking and of removing the hate mongers and the conspiracy mongers from the sites. Failure to do so means that the latter two categories rapidly take up the majority of space on the sites. This is a lack of responsibility not just to abstract concepts such as truth and sanity. It also reeks of a direct betrayal of the communities that Indymedia sites are supposed to serve. It's "going rat" just because of some abstract principle or simply laziness.
The Wikipedia Empire (evil or not- a burning question) has launched its own alternative to the Indymedia sites, called the Wikinews . It hardly seems to be likely to offer anything like the coverage that other mainstream online news services do today, even though its efforts at "journalistic neutrality" seem a mirror image of what such services aspire to. Looking over its recent efforts one finds them quite sparse, and hardly evidence of the sort of different viewpoints that one can already get simply by looking at the news services of different countries.
In the discussions on Winnipeg Indymedia shortly before it was shut down Molly put forward the proposition that not just certain opinions like anti-semitism should be banned but that a whole area of discussion,- the Middle East, its religions and any conspiracy theories connected to same- should be declared off limits, at least for a time. Also that priority should be given to local news. Perhaps only local and national news should be allowed. The Indymedias in Canada that are most likely to last are basically those who have come closest to such strictures, those who have taken a hard line not just with the nuts but also with well meaning leftists who think they can solve the problems of the other side of the world by taking one or another side. This well meaning cheerleading is precisely !! the door through which the neo-Nazis enter.
So...that's it for now. This whole matter has actually made me reconsider my own policy here at Molly's Blog. To date I have deleted only commercial spam from the comments. I still have no problem whatsoever with fanatic conservatives, commies who don't realize their religion is dead, other religious proselytizers, "anarchists" who disgrace the name or those who simply want to insult me. It stays in. I can be twice as abusive as any one of these. But, from this point forward, any anti-semitic trash or conspiracy theories in general will be deleted forthwith. Nobody has ever posted such a thing yet, and I hope they never do. But I will hit the delete button just as fast as I advocate others should do.
End of the Molly hissssss.