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UTNE Reader

June 8, 2008



 National Conference for Media Reform

By Julie Hanus

One of the best (and most overwhelming) parts of a conference like this
weekend’s Free Press "National Media Reform" event is the confluence of
energized people, all armed with sharp
ideas, many working on innovative, exciting projects. 

On Saturday
afternoon, one project making innovative use of radio stood out from
the fray:

Thousand Kites, a project of the Appalachia-based arts and education center Appalshop,
is “a national dialogue project addressing the criminal justice system”
that uses video, theater, radio, and the Internet to help people to
share their experiences and motivate reform. Amelia Kirby, the
project’s media producer, played several minutes of a radio call-in
show for conference attendees during a session on “Connecting with
Social Justice Organizations.” Over crackling phone lines, family and
friends sent holiday wishes to incarcerated loved ones from whom they
were separated.

Before one airing of the show, Kirby explained,
they had a caller who was outraged at the premise, offended that they’d
be doing such a thing for incarcerated people. After the show aired,
Kirby said, the man called again. He had listened to the program. He
had changed his mind—he’d never “thought of things this way.”


It reminded me of what Janine Jackson, from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting,
had said the day before, when someone asked her how media critics might
also be activists. Her answer resonated beyond media criticism: To make
change, she explained, you don’t have to necessarily change the
institution. You just have to change how one person thinks about the institution.


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