While finishing my MFA Visual Arts thesis this spring, I've been observing the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing and trying to decide what to say about it in a period when I've only had time to write about one editorial a month. Obviously, as I said in my editorial the day of the bombing, everyone on the Open Media Boston staff was shocked and saddened by the cowardly attack on civilians. And our hearts go out to the three victims that were killed and to the 264 victims that were wounded - some maimed for life - plus the MIT police officer that was killed and the Transit Police officer that was critically wounded later that week. But there's been something unsavory about the way Boston's power structure responded to the bombing crisis. So I'd like to quickly review how we got where we are now and then look at some of the problems with that response.
The One Fund: Private Wealth and the Distortion of Public Policy
After the Boston Marathon Tragedy, We Need Justice ... and Democracy
Like everyone else in the Boston area, the Open Media Boston staff is still numb with shock at the news that a vicious explosive attack was perpetrated by forces unknown against innocent civilians at the Boston Marathon today. Three people are dead as of this writing - one of them an eight year old boy. Well over 100 people have been injured - quite a large number with damage to their lower extremeties. And a significant percentage of those unlucky people have already suffered through single or double amputations.
Our hearts go out to all the victims of this terrible and unconscionable crime. Sadly, nothing we can do will change events. What's done is done. All that remains now is our society's quest for justice. People understandably want to make sure that the relevant authorities find the criminals, arrest them, and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. And this publication certainly supports that.
What we cannot support is any cry for justice that degenerates into calls for the suspension of civil liberties for any group of people.
Open Media Boston Turns Five, Contemplates Expansion After the Collapse of the Boston Phoenix
Somehow I always took the idea that Open Media Boston would make it five years as a given. As hard as it sometimes is to produce original journalism about grassroots struggles for democracy on the metropolitan level week-in and week-out - getting the necessary technology online, recruiting trained journalists and training new journalists to put in the field, scraping together a gradually growing budget, and building a community of viewers - I knew that all the many people who have walked the road of this project with me would get us to this milestone. And beyond.
Open Media Boston Seeks More Opinion Pieces from Local Progressives
Every once and a while, we've found that it's a good idea to remind our viewers - especially viewers representing progressive labor, community and religious organizations - that Open Media Boston is always looking for op-eds to publish in our Opinion section. While we don't guarantee that we'll publish every submission, we generally accept all those that are timely and meet basic editorial standards. However, we realize that people may not have written an op-ed before; so this editorial will cover the basics of what we expect from our Opinion writers.
Feedback Requested: Should We Rename Open Media Boston?
Much as our staff likes the name of our publication, Open Media Boston, we're toying with the idea of changing it. Naturally, you all will be wondering why we're even considering such a move. Well, we're just starting the process of building a new website (finally!), and if we're ever going to change our name, now would be the best possible time to do it. When I first came up with the name in July 2007, I had a few reasons for choosing it over other ideas. First, I wanted something that fit with the spirit of the then-emerging online community news media. Open. Descriptive. Blunt. Kind of geeky. Second, I had - and still have - aspirations to spread the OMB concept to other cities. So I wanted a fairly generic name that would make it easy to do that. Third, although we had a left-wing editorial line from day one, I didn't want to saddle us with some dated, clueless, and cliched name like Workers Hammer (and yes, there really is such a publication) or whatever.
2013 Open Media Boston Winter Appeal
We know that non-profits typically do lots of fundraising before the December holidays to attempt to catch people in a giving mood. But here at Open Media Boston, our strategy has been like "yeah, we know we're not going to compete with the Humane Society and the Children's Hospital while people are sober and dieting to be able to blow their Jenny Craig points at holiday parties - we need to catch people when they're bloated, logy, hungover and willing to toss us their pocket change to make us go away." Which is why we always make our main funding pitch to them in early January.
A Few Words on the First Anniversary of the Destruction of the Occupy Boston Encampment
A year ago today, the City of Boston destroyed the Occupy Boston encampment at Dewey Square in an early morning raid by the Boston Police Department - following a pattern that was repeated at most of the major Occupy camps around the country. A couple of days later, I wrote an editorial attacking the city and the cops for trampling on protected speech and stopping the press - including this reporter - from doing our jobs until all the tents were ripped down at the campsite and all the Occcupiers driven off or arrested.
I concluded that piece hopefully, and indicated that the Occupy movement was "still very much in the ascendant" at the time of my writing. And I wrote that in earnest. But within a couple of months, Occupy Boston had fragmented under the weight of internal dissension and external pressure. And by the summer it shone with just a fraction of its former brilliance.
Open Media Boston to Pay News Stringers - Three Month Trial Run Begins Immediately
It's been an odd last several months here at Open Media Boston; so I thought I'd just catch folks up on what we're up to. And talk about a new program we're trying out that I think will generate some interest among underemployed journalists in our fair city. Regular OMB viewers will recall that I've been finishing up my MFA in Visual Arts at a local university. My increasingly large thesis artwork has been demanding at times - forcing me to stop most of my editorial duties for several weeks thus far this year. Plus I became an adjunct professor in communications this semester, which has taken even more time out of my schedule. Although we've continued to publish fresh material most every week as normal. I recently took a six month thesis extension to make my life easier and spend more time on OMB again until I graduate (knock wood) in June. Which is great, but I still need more help to make sure that we have articles in our news section every week.
Yes, No, and Yes on Mass. 2012 Ballot Questions 1, 2, and 3 (and Yes on the Budget for All Question)
Getting back into the swing here after being on a school-related hiatus from journalism for a few weeks. I've been quite busy working on my MFA in Visual Arts for the second stretch this year, but decided to spend more time on my thesis artwork and finish up next semester. Which means I'm back in the editorial saddle just in time to write something about tomorrow's elections. Of course, Open Media Boston is a non-profit; so we can't back political candidates. But, as we discovered some time ago, it's perfectly fine for non-profits to weigh in on referendum questions. And what better way to return to political commentary than to give you all the Open Media Boston guide to the Massachusetts 2012 ballot questions?
Harvest Fails: A Cautionary PR Primer for Progressive Non-Profits, Unions and Co-ops
Last Monday evening, September 10th, I went out to cover what I thought would be a routine, paint-by-numbers story for Open Media Boston. But it turned out to be anything but routine. And I feel that the resulting conflict serves as an excellent cautionary tale for progressive non-profits, unions and co-operatives on how not to run their public relations operations.
To continue, earlier that Monday I had gotten a press release from members of the Harvest Co-op that have been organizing to get a membership referendum passed that would enjoin the co-op to honor the international boycott against the Sabra and Tribe brands of hummus - since they are owned by Israeli companies that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement considers complicit in that nation's long parade of human rights abuses against the Palestinian people. The release said that boycott advocates would be showing up at the Harvest board of directors meeting that night, and debating with them about what they felt to be irregularities in the referendum process. I thought it would be an interesting piece because there's been a controversy brewing between co-op members in the Boston Hummus Campaign and the Harvest board for several months now. The board had presided over a number of recent policy decisions on co-op referenda that boycott advocates felt were aimed directly at hamstringing their effort - culminating in the board disallowing over 100 signatures that the advocates had gathered on their referendum petition. Which resulted in the referendum being quashed by the board for failing to meet the minimum number of member signatures necessary to move forward - and under the new policies, once a referendum effort is defeated it can't be raised again.
Please check out these other articles of interest ...
- The One Fund: Private Wealth and the Distortion of Public Policy
- After the Boston Marathon Tragedy, We Need Justice ... and Democracy
- Open Media Boston Turns Five, Contemplates Expansion After the Collapse of the Boston Phoenix
- Open Media Boston Seeks More Opinion Pieces from Local Progressives
- Feedback Requested: Should We Rename Open Media Boston?