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Press conference launches AltMediaCentre

Mainstream media flock to AMC to find out about "alternative" media

by Kate Milberry

Syed Hussan meets the scrum
Syed Hussan meets the scrum

The Toronto Community Mobilization Network held a press conference this morning to launch a week of themed actions against the G8/G20, and to officially open the Alternative Media Centre.


Mainstream media gathered outside the Jersey Ave. Centre to hear TCMN representatives discuss the various issues around the G8/G20. Monday is a day of resistance organized around migrant justice, income inequity, community control over resources and end to war. 


“There are 289 million people globally who are unemployed and more than half the world's population lives on $2.5 a day as a direct result of the banking and corporate policies of the G8,” said Syed Hussan of the TCMN. “This is an outrage.”


The Group of 8 comprises the heads of state of the world's most powerful governments. It holds annual summits to discuss macro-economic policy, heavily influenced by a neoliberal approach that favours reduction of social services, environmental protection and labour rights in favour of unfettered capitalism. The Group of 20— finance ministers and central bank governors from the 20 largest economies—was formed in 2007 as a response to global economic crisis.


Hussan stressed that the effects of G8/G20 policies have impact in the daily lives of millions of people around the globe, and drew connections between these policies and struggles for economic justice, environmental sustainability, queer, labour and migrant rights, and an end to war.


Amy Miller, an independent journalist with The Dominion, introduced the AMC and its website, which features live Twitter and Flickr feeds as well as live video streaming. The AMC will also produce daily editions of The Spoke, a broadsheet out of the Toronto Media Co-op. Miller described the AMC as a collaborative space where accredited independent media makers from across the country will come to network, share resources and provide 24-hour reporting on the G20 actions as they unfold over the week. 


Jesse Rosenfeld, an independent journalist with the AMC, explained the difference between mainstream and alternative journalism for a crowd of mostly bewildered journalists. “We focus on critical investigation, taking a frontline journalism approach. We will be at all the flashpoints and creative actions, working in support and solidarity with the communities who come out.”


Rosenfeld added: “We're part of a dialogue of social movements. We're interacting with people in the street and looking at the broad social context. We're examining questions like how power works, how the G8 works, what are the problems with the G8.”


The press conference was attended by most of Toronto's mainstream media outlets, including CBC, Radio-Canada, CTV, The Globe and Mail, and CityTV. Many of them had difficulty understanding the role of alternative media in reporting on the G20 Summit, and could not get away from questions of violence, a theme that dominates mainstream reporting on social justice actions to the exclusion of the issues fuelling the controversy. One reporter repeatedly asked if AMC journalists were fearful of their safety and what preparations they were making in case of “violent protesters.” Other reporters could not understand that the TCMN's role as network facilitator and community supporter, and not actually organizing any actions. They also had difficulty understand those opposed to the role of the G8 in democratic society, referring to them only as “protesters.” 


Hussan challenged the mainstream media's portray of protesters as “disconnected from communities.” He stressed that the various actions taking place over the week are autonomous, self-determined actions of regular folks impacted in various ways by the economic policies of the G8/G20.  “This is a network of people and communities—not protesters. Toronto is our city and we will fight back.”


Dave Patrick, owner of Linux CafĂ©, donated space to host the AMC. As a business owner and Canadian, he is concerned about the issues surrounding the G8/G20, especially “the federal government spending $1 billion, shutting down the economic engine of our city for a week, and inviting mayhem.”



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