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Being the media

For over two years the IMC's have kept connected to events and struggles those distant, but concerned. Yet we still have this regrettable debate about whether we should be involved or uninvolved journalists.
"Are you there as an activist or a journalist?" is an all to common question of and among IMCers at large actions. Most of us have no trouble answering the question, but we do have different replies. Some are there as a uninvolved journalist. Others are activists first, journalists second, and uninvolved in neither role. Since both positions lack a solid defense the divisive argument should be resolved in a unifying manner as soon as possible.

In this argument the uninvolved hold that if you're in the streets wearing an IMC badge and are involved in direct action, then you're a liability to the security of the IMC. They say that being involved in protest actions will give the police a reason to label the IMC a protest group, giving them "reasonable cause" to raid a physical space. This side of the argument has merit only so long as you believe the police to be respecting of press freedoms. The events of Genoa last summer and the attempted seizure of the server logs last spring demonstrate that police the world over have little more than contempt for freedom of the press. They will attack, with or without "reasonable cause," any organization that reports the truth in all it's brutality.

The other side of the coin says that if you're with the IMC and are uninvolved then you're no better than the corporate press. And perhaps, since you're willing to stand idle as your comrades get beat and hauled off to jail, you may be worse than the corporate press. What's seldom recognized by this side is the important role the uninvolved play in the streets. IMCers who take to the streets as uninvolved journalist take along the responsibility of defending press freedoms, and they do so almost completely alone. Those who won't respect the constraints of professional journalism standards can't adequately defend these rights, and the corporate press usually won't. It's up to the small group of independent journalists, among them those uninvolved IMCers, to bear the weight.

In arguing about whether we should be involved or uninvolved, we miss that our differences are complementary, not contradictory, and that each side has a necessary place in the IMC. The uninvolved, by being uninvolved, are capable of defending the rights of a free press, and their presence may ensure that coverage continues if a mass arrest occurs. The involved, for their part, are capable of giving a view that the uninvolved cannot, no matter how they try.

For over two years the IMC's have kept connected to events and struggles those distant, but concerned. In the process we've built and nurtured a community that terrifies the elite. This has happened through the combined efforts of the involved and the uninvolved. Yet we still have this regrettable debate about whether we should be involved or uninvolved. It is a debate without resolution and one that often makes us look at each other as unequal.

Individual members of the IMC can begin to close this debate by understanding the views and responsibilities of both sides, and respecting the decisions of individuals. In turn, the IMC network should resolve the "involved/uninvolved" debate by adding a diversity of tactics statement to the Points of Unity. Such actions forward the ideals of the IMC by allowing everyone to be the media without defining how.

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These views are not those of the Chicago IMC
 
 

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