Author ArchiveErin Polgreen

Open to the Public: Meet the Storytelling Pioneers of Visual Journalism

Posted Oct 3, 2011 @ 12:49 pm by
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Comics journalist Dan Archer joins editors from Mother Jones, Colorlines and Truthout to demonstrate tools and reveal new trends in visual journalism.

If you live in the Bay Area, please join The Media Consortium for a panel discussion on the future of visual journalism on October 13. From data visualization to hand illustration, today’s journalists are utilizing new tools and techniques to engage readers via interactive and immersive news stories. At 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 13, 2011 at the James Irvine Conference Center of the East Bay in Oakland, a panel of editors and reporters who are breaking new ground in content delivery will discuss the plusses and pitfalls of experimenting in the visual space.

  • What: Storytelling Pioneers: New Tools, Trends, and Techniques in Visual Journalism
  • When: 7:00-8:00 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13
  • Where: James Irvine Conference Center of the East Bay. 200 Frank H Ogawa Plz, Oakland (12th Street BART)

This session also marks the first time that the Media Consortium is opening a panel at their annual meeting to the public.

About the panelists:

Dan Archer, a 2010 John S.Knight Fellow at Stanford University, creates non-fictional, journalistic comics to offer a new perspective on US foreign and domestic policy He is currently working on an interactive timeline for the London School of Economics/VJ Movement as well as animations and comics for American Public Media.

Hatty Lee is the Art and Production Manager for ARC and ColorLines Magazine. Previously, she was Design Director of Hyphen Magazine, a non-profit Asian American magazine. Hatty tweets at @hattyslee.

Erin Polgreen is the managing director of The Media Consortium, where she oversees editorial collaborations and other programming. Erin frequently writes and speaks about the integration of comics and journalism. Follow her on Twitter: @erinpolgreen.

Tasneem Raja is Mother Jones‘ Digital Interactive Editor. She specializes in web app production, interactive graphics, and user interface design. Before joining Mother Jones, she was an interactive producer at The Bay Citizen.

Leslie Thatcher is Truthout.org’s Literary editor. As part of her work as an editor for Truthout, Leslie evaluates and develops graphic artists’ and writers’ work for publication.

Showdown in Madison: A Primer for the Wisconsin Protests

Posted Feb 18, 2011 @ 5:25 pm by
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by Raquel Brown, Media Consortium blogger

The Progressive, Flickr user newlowIt’s been a tumultuous week in Madison, Wisconsin. Tens of thousands of state workers, teachers, and students have packed the state Capitol building to protest Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to weaken public unions.

In a move ostensibly aimed to balance the state budget, Walker proposed a bill on Friday, February 11 that would dislodge collective bargaining rights for all public workers except for police, firefighters and the state patrol—some of the few public employee unions that supported Walker’s gubernatorial campaign. In addition, the bill will require most state workers to pay significantly more for pensions and health premiums.

Armed with scores of clever signs, demonstrators are rumbling through Madison, chanting “Kill the bill” and “This is what democracy looks like!” To delay the passage of Walker’s controversial bill and forge negotiations, 14 state Senate Democrats fled the state on Thursday, leaving the chamber with too few lawmakers to take a vote.

The Uptake is also LiveStreaming from Madison:

Roger Bybee of Working In These Times explains why the protests in Wisconsin are vital to America’s labor movement. “America’s labor movement is enjoying a great start in this epic battle to hold onto fundamental union rights in Wisconsin. It’s already had vast repercussions across the nation,” Bybee writes.

For the people?

Walker claims that the Democrats’ boycott is disrespectful to democracy. Further, he contends that his anti-union bill is representative of the people since he fairly won the election and Republicans gained control of both houses in the Wisconsin state legislature last November.

But John Nichols of The Nation argues that Walker’s elected position does not give him total free reign over the state: “Democracy does not end on Election Day. That’s when it begins. Citizens do not elect officials to rule them from one election to the next. Citizens elect officials to represent them, to respond to the will of the people as it evolves.”

This week, Wisconsin workers have embraced their First Amendment right to “peaceably assemble and petition the government” and are making sure their voices are heard.

Furthermore, according to Colorlines.com’s Kai Wright, the current assault on public workers is racialized. He writes:

But as governors and columnists have painted pictures of overpaid, underworked public employee in recent weeks, I have also seen the faint outline of familiar caricatures—welfare queens, Cadillacs in the projects, Mexican freeloaders. It’s hard to escape the fact that, in the states and localities with the biggest budget crunches (New Jersey, California, New York…) public employees are uniquely black.

Young people rallying

Emboldened by the bill’s potential to destroy the quality of their education, students have helped the protests gain momentum. While graduate students led a “teach-out,” undergraduate students organized a “walk-out” from university classes and a sleep in at the capital’s rotunda.

Micah Uetricht of Campus Progress writes, “If public sector union workers—indeed, all workers—are to gain dignified work and lives, it will take a mass cross-generational mobilization that engages students and workers of all ages and industries. In other words, it will take the kind of movement in full bloom in Madison right now.”

Here comes the Tea Party…

Tea party activists will meet head-to-head with union protesters on Saturday, as many are flocking to the state Capitol for a massive counter-demonstration in support of Walker’s bill. Led by the conservative group American Majority, and other conservative pundits like Andrew Breitbart, Jim Hoft and Joe “The Plumber” Wurtzelbacher, Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones reports that “the organizers of this anti-union protest do have the resources and know-how to stage a big rally. … But more important, the scheduled protest appears to be resonating with Tea Party activists across the country, who have been praising Walker for taking on unions.”

Historical perspective

Wisconsin was “the birthplace of public sector unions” 50 years ago, which makes Walker’s proposal a significant break from the state’s pro-labor past. Even worse, “other state legislatures could see Walker’s assault on public employees and their unions as a blueprint for how to fix their own budget catastrophes,” notes Mother Jones’ Siddhartha Mahanta. “Such plans are already under consideration in places like Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee, where the GOP scored major electoral victories last November.” Thus, the bill is an attack not only on Wisconsin’s workers, but on the rights of public workers across the country.

From Egypt to the Midwest

So does this make Walker the Mubarak of the Midwest? In light of Egypt’s recent uprisings, The American Prospect’s Harold Meyerson examines the glaring double standard surrounding Wisconsin’s protests:

American conservatives often profess admiration for foreign workers’ bravery in protesting and undermining authoritarian regimes. Letting workers exercise their rights at home, however, threatens to undermine some of our own regimes (the Republican ones particularly) and shouldn’t be permitted. Now that Wisconsin’s governor has given the Guard its marching orders, we can discern a new pattern of global repressive solidarity emerging – from the chastened pharaoh of the Middle East to the cheese-head pharaoh of the Middle West.

But, wait: There’s more! Here are some other notable stories from Wisconsin:

  • The Progressive’s Josh Healey provides a list of ten things you should know about Wisconsin’s crusade for worker’s rights.
  • Adele M. Stan of AlterNet describes Walker’s cozy relationship with the Koch Brothers’ deep pockets.
  • On GRITtv, Milwaukee’s Ellen Bravo reveals state workers struggle for basic rights, while Ev Liebman shares her similar experience in New Jersey.
  • Free Speech Radio News interviews Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller  from an “undisclosed location.”

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the Wisconsin protests by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. For more news on Wisconsin, follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

Hackathon Recap: Six Mobile Prototype Mobile Apps Built in 29 Hours

Posted Oct 12, 2010 @ 8:00 am by
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Weekly Mulch: White House Relents on Solar Panels; Why Congressional Inaction Hasn’t Stopped Green Building

Posted Oct 8, 2010 @ 11:10 am by
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by Rosie Powers, Media Consortium blogger

The Obama administration finally agreed to assemble solar panels on the roof of the White House. It’s encouraging news, considering that Congress was unable to pass climate change legislation this year.

While Congress may not get it, citizens across the country have committed to building green using energy-efficient guidelines such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a rating system set out by the U.S. Green Building Council. Green buildings are no longer reserved for the wealthy or the province of distant countries. They are becoming a well-traveled path to a sustainable future.

Consideration of inward, rather than outward, urban development encourages major cities to be more self-contained and sustainable in the realms of energy and water usage. Inclusion of building features such as solar panels and energy-efficient window and wall insulation insure that energy is self-produced and not wasted. (more…)

Hackers: Compete for a $1K cash prize at the Independent Media Mobile Hackathon!

Posted Sep 23, 2010 @ 7:45 am by
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From iPads to Android, mobile is the future of media. But how can news organizations capitalize on mobile mania to better connect with their audiences? That’s a key question that journalists can’t answer alone.

To tackle this problem, The Media Consortium, a national network of leading independent media outlets, and Hacks/Hackers are hosting an Independent Media Mobile Hackathon in Chicago from Oct 9-10.

The mission is to create mobile applications that merge gaming mechanics and news delivery. Our panel of distinguished judges will award prizes to the top three prototype applications at the end of the Hackathon, and a $1,000 cash prize will be distributed to programmers behind the weekend’s top application.

This is a great opportunity to get your work noticed by local and national media outlets—and score some sweet prizes including cash, ebooks, t-shirts, XKCD comics, merch from Mozilla, and more. Judges include:

  • Brad Flora, of The Windy Citizen and Knight News Challenge winner
  • Brant Houston, executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc.
  • Shinji Kuwayama, lead developer at Groupon.

Registration has been open for just a few weeks and we’ve already sold out of journalist slots. The Hacker slots are going quickly. If you’ve got experience developing mobile applications and are interested in journalism, please RSVP today. Please contact us with any questions.

Hackathon Goals

The hackathon’s call to action centers on the frame of “News + Fun + Community.” All prototype apps must focus on creatively delivering news and information via gaming mechanics, such as community engagement, video, rewards based systems, sharing, location-based opportunities, games, and more. All prototype apps created at the hackathon must be cross-platform (accessible via mobile web, tablet computer, smartphone, etc.). We are also committed to making all code generated at the hackathon open source and available immediately to all participants.

Stay tuned for more updates about the hackathon, sponsors and prizes. And, hackers, don’t forget to RSVP!

Our Sponsors

Weekly Audit: Foreclosure Mills, Social Security and the Fed’s Failures

Posted Aug 10, 2010 @ 11:32 am by
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by Amanda Anderson, Media Consortium blogger

Image via Flickr user bitzcelt, via Creative Commons LicenseEditor’s Note: Zach Carter is out this week, but we’ve compiled a rundown of the biggest economy-related stories, including the rise of foreclosure mills and why social security isn’t in jeopardy. Zach will be back next Tuesday, so stay tuned!

Who needs ethics when you’ve got foreclosure mills?

Want to make money quickly, but don’t want ethics to get in the way? Big banks are outsourcing their foreclosure duties to fraudulent law firms, known as foreclosure mills, and getting away with it. Zach Carter explains the latest get rich quick scheme for AlterNet. Foreclosure mills are ethically questionable law firms that process legal documents for foreclosures. They tend to have an emphasis on quantity, not quality. Carter writes:

Big banks are not outsourcing their foreclosure processing to shady law firms with a history of breaking the law for a quick buck. These foreclosure scammers forge documents, backdate signatures, slap families with thousands of dollars in illegal fees and even foreclosure on borrowers who haven’t missed a payment. (more…)

Weekly Diaspora: Modified SB 1070 Goes Into Effect; How Federal Law Paved the Way

Posted Jul 29, 2010 @ 12:08 pm by
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by Annie Shields, Media Consortium blogger

Image courtesy of Flickr user SEIU International, Via Creative Commons LicenseYesterday, 9th Circuit Judge Susan Bolton struck down many of the most controversial provisions in Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, including the section requiring police to ask anyone they suspect of being undocumented for proof of citizenship. It’s a small victory. Today, a modified version of the bill goes into effect.

Although Bolton’s decision weakened the state law, several problematic provisions remain in place, including one that allows Arizona residents to sue local police for not enforcing SB 1070, as well as one that makes it a crime to knowingly transporting an undocumented immigrant under any circumstance, even in an emergency. ColorLines has a good breakdown of pending lawsuits against SB 1070. (more…)

Weekly Diaspora: Evangelicals Unexpected Allies for Immigration Reform

Posted Jul 22, 2010 @ 11:46 am by
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by Annie Shields, Media Consortium blogger

Image courtesy of Flickr user wallyg, via Creative Commons LicenseWith only a week remaining before Arizona’s contentious Senate Bill 1070 becomes law, Arizona human and immigrant rights groups have found unlikely allies among the religious community.

The American Prospect reports that a growing group of evangelical Christian leaders, like Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr., president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, are rejecting the traditional conservative stance on immigration, instead supporting President Barack Obama’s call for comprehensive reform.

Southern Baptist and Catholic leaders are also among those who have come out in favor of a path to citizenship, according to New American Media. Following last week’s blacklist scandal in Utah, the stance on immigration reform in the Mormon Church (Utah’s dominant social institution) is under scrutiny. After the news broke of the blacklist of undocumented immigrants– which contained Social Security numbers, phone numbers, even the due dates of pregnant women– a firestorm of controversy erupted. (more…)

Weekly Audit: The Hidden Casualties of the Great Recession

Posted Jul 13, 2010 @ 10:57 am by
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by Annie Shields, Media Consortium blogger

Image courtesy of Flickr user Blue Jay Day, via Creative Commons LicenseThe June labor market report announced that the unemployment rate is down from 9.7 to 9.5 percent and 83,000 private-sector jobs were created in June. Unfortunately, the situation isn’t quite so rosy. As Annie Lowrey reports for The Washington Independent, the real cause of the drop in unemployment was not more jobs, but fewer workers. Hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans have now been reclassified as “discouraged” workers who have not actively searched for work for four weeks. As such, they are no longer part of the system.

Unemployed and disenfranchised
What’s worse, the unemployment crisis is hurting some more than others. Among the discouraged workers that have simply dropped out of the labor market, 65% are women. People of color have also been hit especially hard, as have young people that are just entering the labor market. As Katherine S. Newman and David Pedulla of The Nation write:

“The Great Recession is reminding us of how unequal the distribution of damage can be. While virtually everyone other than the top 1 percent is suffering in some fashion, the depth of the fallout varies a great deal by race, education and gender.” (more…)

Weekly Audit: Senate Republicans Nix Jobs Bill

Posted Jun 22, 2010 @ 7:35 am by
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by Annie Shields, Media Consortium blogger

Image courtesy of Flicker user . : : v i S H a l : : . via Creative Commons LicenseIt looks as if election-year strategies are trumping any actual problem-solving efforts from Republican lawmakers. In the midst of one of the worst unemployment crises in U.S. history, Senate Republicans killed a jobs bill last Thursday by a 56-40 vote.

As congress carries on with the seemingly impossible task of helping the unemployed while keeping Republicans happy,  over 15,000 progressives and 1,300 organizations will convene in Detroit this week for the U. S. Social Forum (USSF) to explore alternative solutions to the jobs crisis. Editor’s note: Stay tuned for USSF coverage from Media Consortium members throughout the week in The Audit, The Pulse, The Diaspora and The Mulch.

Killed bill

Democrats trimmed over $20 billion in unemployment benefit extensions from the bill to appeal to Senate Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats. The efforts were to no avail, according to The Michigan Messenger. In addition to extending emergency unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, the Senate bill would have increased Medicaid funding and prevented a 21% pay cut for Medicare doctors. (more…)