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From the Executive Director
“How is my labor generating the culture I want to see in the world?”
Labor Day 2017, already a memory as we enter our September rhythm, is a vague yearly commemoration, miles from its activist roots, of the contributions American workers have made to the prosperity and well-being of this country. No real foodways, no rituals, people work or don’t work. As President Obama said in his 2015 Labor Day speech, it is a day we “honor the contributions and resilience of working Americans.” But what does it really mean? This year, I’m thinking about the work it’s going to take to respond to the inhumane decision of this administration to rescind DACA, the conviction required to repair the devastation of Harvey and Irma, and the creative spirit of all sorts of people who do the work to scaffold and shelter those who are suffering, who open their checkbooks, their homes, and their lives to work in solidarity with folks in need. Not charity, humanity. I’m thinking about the work it takes to come back after losing loved ones, or everything you own, or your sense of the ground under your feet. Who is uprooted and who remains? We’re just beginning to get the stories of young people whose lives and freedoms are now in peril, those in Houston, Louisiana and Puerto Rico, from the center of the latest storm. When the hard news cycles begin to fade, and the cruelty of forced deportation of longterm residents of our “great” country sets in yet again, the artists and storytellers will undoubtedly be there to pick up the threads that can become the collective voice of the healing process, and of our rage.
Also on this Labor Day, we look to the work ahead. We are deep into our Strategic Plan, 2020Vision, as well as our HatchLabs, Youth Media convenings, and some crazy exciting Innovation Studio model projects including FRED, Reportal, CherryPIX, and The Colored Girls Museum in VR. We’re thinking a lot about VR lately – check out Storytelling Matters for the latest conversation. Join us on FB, follow on Twitter, where you’ll see project updates and press releases from us in the coming weeks. If you or your organization would like to get more involved in any of this work, partnership discussions are always welcome!
The Alliance will also be on the Road a lot this fall/winter. Here’s where you can find us:
- New York City, September 18 – 28 for Independent Film Week and Strategic Planning
- New Orleans, October 11/12 for a HatchLab in partnership with the New Orleans International Film Festival and Blights Out/Antenna Collective
- Chicago on November 2/3 with our Urban/Rural HatchLab and the Youth Media Summit Chicago/The Dream is Now.
Notes from the Field
Director Nicks approaches Oakland police documentary with an open mindFilmmaker Peter Nicks used the phrase “aggressively open-minded” more than once during a recent conversation about his bracing new police documentary “The Force,” which opens in San Francisco on Sept. 15 before rolling out nationally. It’s an apt description of what Nicks calls his “Frederick Wiseman-esque, non-judgmental” stance, as well as the mind-set he hopes to instill in audiences watching his chronicle of two turbulent years of progressive reforms and brazen transgressions in the long-embattled Oakland Police Department.
Who is VR for?
What are the models we could set up to build a more inclusive group of artists and field builders working in the creative virtual reality space? Over the summer, I’ve been interviewing makers and practitioners about this question.
Tips from a Foundation Insider:
How to Avoid Common Mistakes and Make Your Best Case in Writing Proposals to Foundations
Even the best fundraisers, writers, journalists, and researchers sometimes fall short when they try to communicate the importance and excitement of their work to foundations. Common mistakes include misunderstanding the goals the funder is pursuing in your field, failing to tell an engaging story, being unclear about your strategy and desired change, and providing too much or too little illustrative detail.
With new podcast, ‘Frontline’ recognizes that some stories are made for audio
Frontline is taking its investigative documentary chops to a new platform. The long-running PBS series is launching The Frontline Dispatch Sept. 14, a biweekly podcast that aims to bring the show’s deep-dive narrative style to audio. The first season will consist of five to seven roughly hourlong episodes, with stories set in the U.S.
How a Germantown woman transformed her home into the Colored Girls Museum
Walking up the path to the front door of the Colored Girls Museum in Germantown is like a first-time visit to the home of a new girlfriend. A blue tricycle sits tumbled on its side in the front yard. Wind chimes jingle in the frigid, late-winter breeze.
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Media Policy Watch
The Federal Communications Commission’s deadline for comments has passed, regarding chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal for the rollback of net neutrality regulations. According to Variety, the FCC has received, “almost 22 million comments had been received, shattering all previous records.” Of these, 98.5% of unique comments have been found to be negative towards the rollback, according to Ars Technica. The House Commerce Committee has since delayed their September 7 hearing on the subject.
Interestingly, The Hill recently reported that even if the FCC rolls back their regulations, the Federal Trade Commission could protect net neutrality via antitrust regulations, citing a 2007 bipartisan FTC report. The ALLIANCE has stated its support Net Neutrality on several previous occasions.
This past month saw the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities disbanded after its members resigned en masse. The resignation letter, which has been described by Quartz as scathing, specifically pointed to president Trump’s comments regarding the events in Charlottesville, VA as the catalyst. Actor and former committee member, Kal Penn explained the motivations in an interview with Vanity Fair. Earlier in the month, ALLIANCE posted the resignation letter.
On Wednesday, August 30, Public Knowledge, a DC based non-profit, filed a Petition to Deny, with the FCC to block the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s merger with Tribune Media for $3.9 billion. They claim that the merger would limit a diversity of ideas in local markets and, “could also delay mobile broadband deployment in the 600 MHz band, hindering efforts to close the digital divide” for disadvantaged communities.
As mentioned in our last eBulletin, the merger would give the giant over 230 local stations, “which reach 72 percent of the American public,” according to Vice. According to Sinclair’s FCC Petition, they claim combined investment of Sinclair and the Tribune would improve the resources and coverage for local markets.
In related events, the 21st Century Fox Inc. affiliation deal with Sinclair has been renewed. Thereby eliminating the possibility that Fox would strike a deal with Ion Media Networks and the two conservative leaning media companies would compete for the local news market.
In the realm of media diversity, a the findings from a study by USC Annenberg has concluded that after viewers saw an episode of Royal Pains featuring a transgender teen increased audiences’ positive views of transgender people and issues affecting. Also that this was amplified by cumulative exposure to media stories of transgender people, when compared to those that were not.
We want to hear from you. Are you concerned with any national media policy stories that are underreported? Are there any local stories in your area that need highlighting? Please let us know.
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