By Amalia Deloney
In the last three years, the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) has grown to become one of the leading grassroots media policy advocacy networks. Today, we have more than 100 organizational members. Our members are grassroots social justice, media activist, and production organizations working together for social change through the critical use and transformation of media. Together, we are developing advocacy strategies to improve media conditions and secure communication rights for communities of color and the poor.
Why is this network so critical? Because we know that media shapes the conditions we live in everyday, and that as much as media can exacerbate conditions of discrimination, exclusion, and inequity, it can also be an opportunity to change the game if we transform the rules.
Since 2008 MAG-Net has:
- Partnered with the Leadership Council on Civil Rights to connect thousands of people in marginalized communities to information and services during the digital television transition
- Partnered with the Consumer’s Union to pressure electronics retailers across the country to provide no cost converter boxes- and won!
- Amplified the demand for a socially responsible digital television transition in dozens of news hits reaching thousands of people!
- Hosted two Media Justice Leadership institutes– with workshops on community organizing, media policy, popular education, and strategic communications
- Conducted our first ever grassroots policy day in the DC beltway, where we met with national civil rights groups, the Federal Communications Commission, and Congressional representatives to discuss the need for an affordable, accessible, and open Internet
- Launched a national media justice learning community, with monthly calls for our network members to learn about universal service, network neutrality, how to conduct effective actions, and more!
- Convened racial justice policy allies to partner for open Internet protections, and submitted joint comments to the FCC!
- Conducted online and phone actions to provide our FCC Commissioners with the grassroots support they need to hold big media at bay and pass rules to expand and protect high speed Internet
- Created and distributed dozens of popular tools to educate our communities about universal service and network neutrality
- Provided nine leading regional media justice organizations with the financial and strategic resources they need to increase the impact of regional organizing and alliance building for media change through our Regional Hubs Initiative
- Launched a brand new website with info, forums, photos, features, and more!
Our media systems are undergoing a massive global restructuring, and all forms of media are moving to digital platforms. While the Pew Research Center reports that 63% of U.S. adults have broadband in their homes—the 37% who remain “disconnected” are disproportionately rural, people of color, poor people, migrants and refugees, and speakers of languages other than English. We plan to get in where we fit in- and where we don’t, we will create new opportunities to ensure that your voices are heard in the debate on digital inclusion and media justice. Media Justice includes a new understanding of digital “rights, access, and power.” And as history has taught us, transformative change is a long-term project! Using a communication rights platform coupled with grassroots organizing, MAG-Net will:
- Develop the leadership, capacity, and relationships our members need to effectively engage in the fight for media justice and digital inclusion at home and in the DC beltway
- Ensure the participation of stakeholders at the margins in policy fights for digital inclusion through regional organizing and national advocacy
- Expand the media justice sector to include new voices and stakeholders from the social justice, journalism, and arts community through regional and national alliance building
Beginning in 2009 and going through 2012, MAG-Net will focus on advancing a policy agenda for digital inclusion that amplifies the voices of those pushed furthest to the margins of public debate, and advances the goals of movements for racial and economic justice, as well as advocating for a new digital infrastructure that provides our communities with:
- Full employment
- Safe and affordable housing
- Quality education, and
- Content that is relevant and useful to our lives and goals
To date nearly 150 organizations that care about economic empowerment for marginalized communities and small businesses have taken our Digital Inclusion Pledge, and you can too! On February 15, 2010 hundreds of grassroots organizations will participate in our National Day of Action. In eight regions nationally, MAG-Net will conduct in-district delegation visits with congressional reps, participate in direct actions and community events, and hold press conferences to highlight the need for affordable access and open Internet rules that will ensure the Internet remains a level playing field where every voice and idea has a chance. You can take action too!
Join the conversation and the movement for a healthy digital ecology— a digital ecosystem that is community-based, people-centered, and supportive of political, economic, cultural and technological justice. Good, comprehensive digital policy can connect rural and urban concerns and ensure that human rights are secured in media policy. Let’s fight for our media and keep our communities informed and connected!