I’m writing from San Francisco. Looking out a huge window on Ellis street in the Tenderloin neighbourhood. Cars driving slowly on this Thursday morning, a "The San Francisco Examiner" newspaper box silently waiting to collect quarters, the sky heavy and grey. I’m in the Bay area, on the west coast of the United States, to take part in the LaborTech conference (Nov 17, 18 and 19), the place where labour and technology activists come together.
I’m in the Bay area, on the west coast of the United States, to take part in the LaborTech conference (Nov 17, 18 and 19), the place where labour and technology activists come together. Some are labour communicators, others social techies and some others, like me, embedded reporters. Not with some army or corporation like mainstream media journalists tend to increasingly be, but with social or trade union movements.
Funny to wake up and as a first read, stumble accross this article about the state of journalism in the Bay area. A great read, frankly. This strong critique and clear talk is something I’ve been missing in Europe, where I’ve been living for the last few months. If the German mediascape (yes, I live in Berlin!) is less concentrated and a genuine diversity of the press continues to be around, there still are issues that are not being kicked around in such a clear fashion as in this San Francisco Bay Guardian piece.
<<>>I also like this article because it asks the right question: Is independent journalism still possible in the concentrated media environement in which most North Americans live? That question is of interest, not only for researchers or media analysts, but for the everyday Joe. This is the kind of question I’m looking forward to discuss in the LaborTech conference. If every serious mainstream paper in the States and Canada used to have full-time Labour Writers back in the days, I believe that this figure dropped to a low-point of 6-7 for the entire territory. Does this mean that the interests of ordinary workers and non-managerial staff, independent workers, non profit personnel and small-time entrepreneurs is less weel represented in today’s media? Does this mean that the disgusting working conditions of Chinese workers on the iPod production line are being turned a blind eye to? Does this mean that new ways of communicating through networks (VoIP, text messaging, rss feeds) are the way to go to shed light on the labour and technology cross-section? These and many other questions are the reason I’m here. I’m also presenting on a panel entitled "Web Sites, and Using Technology to Build
Organizing and Information Networks>" That’s on the 18th of November. <<>>
>For starters, please check out blog and a podcasting site for LaborTech that John Parulis set up. They will start to be used as soon as videos come in. There is also a podcast feed that you might want to get nourrished by.
Photo: I’m the guy on the right. In a Prague, Czech republic bar.
Photographer: Andrew Garton.