The National Conference for Media Reform

The fight for an independent and accountable media is on

| May 19, 2005

More than 2,000 media activists converged in St. Louis last weekend for the second National Conference on Media Reform. Organized by Free Press, a non-partisan organization for media engagement, the conference included workshops, panels, films, and performances revolving around media reform issues of ownership, access, organizing, and policy.

Speakers and panelists included Air America's Al Franken, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, Bill Moyers, authors Jim Hightower and Naomi Klein, and Medea Benjamin of Code Pink and Global Exchange.

Bill Moyers closed the weekend with his first public speech since leaving PBS six months ago. He slammed Corporation for Public Broadcasting chair Kenneth Tomlinson for towing the Bush administration party line and challenged him to an hour long debate on the future of public broadcasting.

The conference was not without internal differences as well, even though conservatives were conspicuously absent from the event. Danny Schechter reports an example of the underlying tension: When conference and Free Press co-founder Robert McChesney asked if the goal was to replace the icons of the right like Rush Limbaugh with lefty front-men like Al Franken, the sold-out crowd raucously cheered their affirmation. McChesney then explained why that was the wrong answer and that true media reform required reaching more constituencies.

Be the Media, one of many participants blogging the event in real-time, continues to publish independent trip reports from conference attendees.

Audio of Moyers' speech and other conference sessions can be downloaded from the conference web site.

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