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Hi, I'm Micah Sifry, and I'm the moderator for today's session and I actually just wanted to start with a public service announcement, who are helping make so much of our work possible and wondering if you are with a foundation, if you could just raise your hand so we could give you a round of applause, and those of you who are seeking grants know who to go to now. So here's how we're going to do things on this panel which is on, I guess the title is Grass Roots, Net Roots in the End and Beginning of Politics but we actually have a pretty wide gambit that we can cover. I'm going to open with some introductory remarks and then we'll get into a conversation instead of doing set speeches, and I hope that will work. The first thing that I will just say is that you'll notice that one of our speakers, Michael Turk is not here, unfortunately his flight out of Washington was canceled due to bad weather and thanks to the holiday weekend he couldn't get another flight, so he sends his regrets, but we were obviously looking forward to including him, but we're very lucky and honored to have two really fabulous speakers with us today: Joan Blades of MoveOn, and Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! To save time I will point you to their bios, which are on the NetSquared Web site or in your program guides, and I'll dispense with making a long introduction. Let me just set the stage a little bit. It's my premise that democracy in America is changing, that a new force that is rooted in tools and practices that are being built on and around the internet is rising up alongside the older system of doing politics in America which was very capital intensive, not people intensive, which for shorthand we'll call "Broadcast politics", TV driven politics. Today, I think it's an axiom that we all agree with that just about anybody can be a reporter, publisher, an advertiser, a fundraiser, an organizer, or a leader, just to give you some examples. Two years ago, there were approximately one million blogs that these self-publish websites that we're also familiar with now. Today there are over 40 million worldwide. The number of new blogs being created are approximately one per second, and this is no longer a American or Western phenomenon, the country with the most blogs I think is Japan, followed by China. The genie is out of the box. The cost of finding like-minded souls banding together around something of common concern and talking back to the powerful has dropped to almost zero, and if you have something compelling to say, the network will spread it for you. Just look at YouTube, which didn't exist six months ago, or Google Video, or MySpace for that matter, there's a whole new distribution platform for moving a message, and the word network means something very different from the days when it was CBS, NBC, and ABC. I think as people discover this new power, they're getting tired of being treated like a herd, and they want to be heard. Members expect more of a say in the organizations that they participate in. Readers want to be able to talk back to editors and to journalists. And citizens, I think, are beginning to demand more openness, responsiveness, and transparency from their leaders. As Dan Gilmore said yesterday in his talk about citizens' media, the people who were formerly known as the audience are now becoming co producers in this democratic conversation. This is both a challenge and an opportunity. I would argue that you can take that same concept and it's not just the people formerly known as your audience, it's also for those of us who do advocacy work, the people who might formerly been known as your base, or as the members on your list. And people are attracted to participation, they're attracted to being involved in things where they can do more, I would argue, than just write a check or sign a petition. Lots of people are discovering that they have the power to be co-creators, and this is kind of cool, but it's also very challenging. The question I would hope that we could spend most of our time discussing today: "How should we adapt and thrive in this new dynamically changing environment?" And I would like to start with one assumption so that it's okay, this becomes a comfortable place to have this conversation, let's admit that we're all newbies, that this isn't something that anybody's truly an expert in, this has only been around for a few years as a kind of fact of our culture, and it's only going to continue to become more of a fact that we swim in. And so in some ways we're still all learning, we're making mistakes, we're figuring things out together, so I'm hoping that in our conversation we can really engage in that spirit. Now, I want to walk the walk that Dan Gilmore suggested yesterday in arguing that the audience is collectively smarter than any group of great panelists, and so before I turn to our speakers, to make some introductory remarks, I actually would like to ask the audience if you have something on your mind, that you're hoping we're going to cover, this is a discussion about how politics is changing and how advocacy is changing, if there's something that you are hoping we're going to cover in the next 80 minutes, that is on your mind now, I would appreciate it if you would just raise your hand and I'll point to you and just call it out. Take 30 seconds, don't make a long speech, and just call it out so we get a couple of additional ideas on the table from the audience, and I'll add that to the questions that I've already prepared. Go ahead. (words undetermined from audience member) Okay, corporate behavior. Anybody else with a question that they're burning to raise? Yeah, right here in the front. (words undetermined from audience member) ... Before you go out and take a position and then rally the troops around the particular position, how much do you gather information from the troops about that position before you go take that position? Okay, how does MoveOn engage in advance of actions. Yes, back there in the green shirt? (words undetermined from audience member) Unity '08. Okay, that's this new project to do some kind of third party thing in the presidential election. Way in the back, woman in the back. (words undetermined from audience member) Why don't you wait until the mic comes, because I can't hear you. Hi, I'm the executive director for an organization that's called Vota Latina, and my question is, a lot of the protests and the rallies that occurred in April were actually, the immigration rallies were actually a result of text messaging that occurred back in March, and kids organizing on MySpace, now, how, I guess, from people who have done this before, how do you harness that? How do you make sure that it's a continuous momentum and it's not a matter of just people marching in the streets? Our biggest challenge is, these kids are excited, how to we continue the political movement based on technology? I mean something we're launching is called Text Represent where you can actually register to vote via your cell phone and you can turn around and pass that on to your friends and family, but how do you harness that and continue that momentum? Okay, good question, on this side of the room, yes, here in front? (words undetermined from audience member) ... As we talk about using the Internet to democratize voting and politics, I'd like us to think about who we're leaving behind in basing it on the Internet. Okay. I've got a few more. Kaliah, it's you? So I'd like to know more about how we are to move from the old many, one to many model that is still being replicated and perpetuated by a lot of the large nonprofits in the sector, and move to empowering the edges of those amazing communities and actually doing more many to many in post-silo organizing activities? Okay, good question. Yes. Hi, so my question is, and I speak as someone who's been doing online campaigning for years, but my question is, are we all deluding ourselves, is it a big lie, are metrics for success complete hype, because what I'm seeing around us is that the world is not getting much better despite all of these successes that we've claimed, so I'd like to hear that addressed. Okay, ouch. All right, one or two more questions and then we'll dive in. Groovy, yeah. I'd like to know what you're doing to help your supporters or listeners or viewers or whoever they may be, the people who know who you are and listen to you to find each other and connect to each other either around issues they care about or especially around geography so that they can find people who live in their own towns and then to actually take action locally. I know MoveOn does do some stuff definitely to connect people locally, it's usually on federal issues though, because that's the level you advocate, so I'm thinking if there's a million people in little towns, can they do something at their town council, or if people listen to Democracy Now can they spin off local Democracy Now to share the same perspective on local issues, so how are you helping them connect to each other? One more, somebody waving their hand in the back. Yeah. Are there any, I'd like to hear something about the things that the NSA is doing and how that affects your work. NSA and your work. WE all would like to know the answer to that. Okay. Great. Those are great questions, let me add that, I think most people know this, but there is Wi-Fi in the room, there is an open chat room that NetSquared set up for participants. If you have a laptop or you're sitting next to someone who has a laptop, you can get on the chat, which is www.netsquared.org/hallway, and I am going to try, even though it's going to be a little distracting, to glance at what people are saying in the chat and where possible reflect those comments back into the conversation. So with no further ado, And as for the person that asked about the NSA, people can put away their computers at the end of this session, a transcript of our entire talk will be available to you so you don't have to get carpal tunnel or anything. Okay, so. To start off, and Joan, Amy, obviously people have already put a lot of things into the hopper, so feel free to start engaging those questions, but I thought to start that it would be good if each of you took five minutes or so, starting with Joan, just give us for those who don't know the history of MoveOn and how it's evolved and kind of what your sort of big projects and philosophy, if you can give us sort of a quick background, but just to ground us. Okay, I'll do my best. The five minute story. MoveOn started back in 1998, midway into the Clinton impeachment scandal, with the one-sentence petition Congress must Censure the president and move on to pressing issues facing the nation. And Wes and I, he's my husband, sent it to under 100 of our friends and family, and we had half a million people back in '98 signed that petition, and we were going, "I guess we have a lot of learning to do. " So we felt an obligation to try and help them participate as successfully as possible. Fundamentally, that's what we've been learning to do for the last almost 8 years now, is trying to help people more successfully engage in the political dialogue, and it is a constant learning experience, I have, one of the questions that came along was about how do you decide what to do? Well, a lot of it has to do with listening, because we get thousands of emails, we have the action forum, which is a reader-rated place where you can put up your ideas, and MoveOn members can rate them, and the ones that get the highest ratings move to the top, and so we're all, we're getting the pulse of members through various different ways at all times, and then when we're really trying to figure things out and tune things we'll do surveys and figure out what's right. We're trying very much to take into account the political landscape and the bases priorities to find the things that are going to work and not overwhelm at the same time. That's been MoveOn's effort going forward. For example, last week, it was really fun, we did house parties talking about local, about what is the big, what are the big ideas, what are the three big ideas going forward, because that's something that we've heard again and again from our base. We want to be for something, we know we're against the war, we know we're against drilling in the arctic, but what's, when we say we're progressive, what does that stand for? And so people got together, and we always asked people how it went afterwards, people love these parties, and that is a place that yeah, we're working on a federal issue, but speaking to the local question, people get together at these parties, and then they do local things too, so it facilitates the local connection even though it's not formally taking that on. And then, I'm wearing this t-shirt today, which I should mention that is my newest project which is completely separate form MoveOn, this is MomsRising.org, and I recently finished a book called The Motherhood Manifesto with my amazing coauthor and cofounder, Christian Ralph Finkbonner about, let me take this one step back. My origin is as a mediator, finding areas of common agreement, that first MoveOn petition was, we had Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Green Party, it was just common sense, , censure the President, move on to pressing issues facing the nation, and at MomsRising, what we're trying to do is we've got a huge amount in common in this country and yet we're focused on the division, the vast majority of the time, that somehow our media and our politics keep us focused on the division, and we're trying to say "Okay, here's a place where we share a huge amount of commonality, let's see if we can actually work together on these issues, and that's kind of returning to something that is a core value that I hold, which is also going to be working with members and trying to listen, but doing different things, because MoveOn is largely about what's top of the news, because that is what comes to people first, and this is actually saying this is an issue we care of, and it's an issue that's almost never the top of the news, but really affects the whole, everyone so profoundly, so that's the next part of the story, and I think I... Can I follow up with one question? To what degree is MoveOn and MomsRising a media strategy in that you want to influence the debate by reaching people through the media, by, for example, whether it's paid media or getting on the mainstream media and being able to propel a message out, I mean I'm thinking of things that MoveOn has done, like supporting Robert Greenwald's work, which was a media project too, so I'm just wondering to what degree you see yourselves as being in the business of affecting people's consciousness, or in the business of what your political action committee does, which is trying to win, or cause people to win or lose elections? Well, the media is part of the political dialogue. It's actually kind of funny. A number of years ago, all we'd... we'd help people write letters to the editor and call their representatives and do petitions, and you know, have events, and one day, and this was before the war, we said, maybe we should try an ad, and we went out to our membership and said we want to run a let the inspections work ad run in the New York Times, and that was the first time we ever advertised, we were hoping to raise about $25,000 dollars, and we raised 200, and we're going... Oh. That's a real strong case of our members teaching us, we want to be heard, and we want to be heard so much that we are ready to pay for it. So it really is a dialogue, too. So the media is something our members care about and I think they're right. The media helps shape public opinion, and that's how we need to participate in part, it's not the whole thing but it's a part of the story. Okay, great. Amy, so Democracy Now! is hitting it's tenth anniversary this year, so if you could roll back the tape a little and give us the history, evolution, and where you are today. First of all, I think the media are the most powerful institutions on earth, more powerful than any bomb or missile. It's the media, it's the way we understand the world, the way the rest of the world understands us, and it's very dangerous right now that most of that is mediated through a corporate lens, and that's what we're trying to break, we're trying to break the sound barrier and do it at every level, in mass media and television and radio and on the internet. What's really dangerous is they're the most powerful institutions on earth and they've been deployed by the Pentagon and we have to take it back. Democracy Now! Began in 1996. We came out of Pacifica Radio, and most of you probably know the history of Pacifica, founded in 1949 in Berkeley California by a World War II conscientious objector, Lou Hill, when he came out of detention camps. He said there's got to be a media outlet that isn't brought to you by corporations of profit from war, but are brought to you by journalists and artists. George Germber, founder of the Cultural Environment movement recently died, professor at University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School, talked about corporations, and we see this as corporations that bring us to the media, corporations that have nothing to tell and everything to sell that are raising our children today, and so Pacifica was born in '49, and KPFA in Berkeley '59, KPFK in Los Angeles, 1960, my station in New York, WBAI 1977, WPFW in Washington 1970, KPFT in Houston. And when KPFT went on the air in 1970, well it's the only radio station in the country whose transmitter was blown up not once, but twice by the Ku Klux Klan. In the first few months of operation they strapped dynamite to the transmitter and blew it off the air. Of course it just brought more attention to KPFT, it sort of exploded onto the media scene, and the reason is because Pacifica's dangerous. Dangerous because it allows people to speak for themselves, and when you hear a Syrian grandmother or a Venezuelan child, you think, oh my god that sounds like my bubba or that sounds like my kid. It doesn't matter where they're from but you've got to hear them speaking for themselves, and that's really the idea of Pacifica is to go where the silence is. So in 1996, in the second election of Clinton, it was February in that presidential election, we decided to do a grassroots radio broadcast on the elections, and it was interesting that I should do it because electoral politics was not what I was most interested in, most people in this country were not even voting, so I was particularly curious in what were they doing then, and these were people who care about the fate of the earth, we live in the most powerful country on earth, and they weren't voting in elections that people die for all over the world to go to their polls, but here, you know, take it or leave it. And so we started to look from state to state, primary to primary, what are people doing? And not describing to you, the listeners, what people were doing, but talking to them and letting them describe, how were they organizing, I would never believe that people are apathetic, they were doing something, and why weren't' they channeling that, why weren't they seeing that their power could make a difference in the polls? And so it was only supposed to be an election show, it would end in November, but there was just this clamor for it to continue because it basically was about giving voice to the grassroots, and also linked, even though it was a national election show, we're always going international. Because what this country decides, whether you're in the city council or at the national level, affects really pretty much everyone on earth. I recently was interviewing a woman from Guyana, and it was on globalization, and I said, , it was the end f the conversation, I said "Thanks very much, we're going on to our conversation about the U.S. elections now," and she said, "And I'll be a guest on that segment," and I said, "no, we have other guests, this is the U.S. elections," and she said, "No, I will be a guest on that segment." And I said, "Why?" And she said, "Because I believe everyone on earth should get to vote for President of the United States." And it's a very interesting idea. And so what we do, how we operate here, affects the rest of the world, and there's a lot of interesting things going on in the rest of the world that we can be informed by. I refer to all the nonprofits and grassroots movements in this country as a pro-democracy movement, like we talk about them in the rest of the world. Why would we refer to them any differently here? So we went along as a radio show on a couple dozen community radio stations, and that was great. We were also online, Web active, and people could access the program, and then 1999, the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle, the Battle of Seattle, and we'd got there as Indymedia.org, we'd gone there and it was explosive, what was happening with grassroots media. As the corporate media, CNN, was giving you the voice, the megaphones of those empowered, the police chief and the mayor were saying, "We're not shooting rubber bullets," we were picking them up by the handfuls. I mean, Indymedia.org, while it didn't start there, it certainly blossomed there. They were getting more hits on their Web site per day than CNN.com, because people saw they had the truth, and the other guys were reporting what officialdom was saying and it was not what was happening on the ground, and we could show the images, and so from that we went onto the 2000 election where we started to dabble in television, doing broadcasts from the Democratic and Republican convention with deep dish TV and starting to do some free-speech TV, and then September 11th happened. It was right at that time, coincidentally, that the local public access TV station in New York City, MNN, a Manhattan neighborhood network said, "Could we start televising your show?" And with radio at the heart of all that we do, if you interrupt the sound, I said, if you introduce a buzz, you're out. I said, what will this involve? They said just one camera, and we'll just televise what you're doing. How could we communicate to each others in hand signals and all the way we did on radio and we'd actually have to not wear pajamas. So we decided to do it and it was right at the time of September 11th, so here we had, we were linked from where we were which was downtown community television, which is a community media center teaching people to videotape their own communities, that's when we were broadcasting directly to MNN, they had a TV line to them, and it just took off. It was absolutely astounding what happened after that. We started to do our own cast on the show, every morning, and they also would video stream it at MNN.org, so you could actually see it there, and then more and more public access TV stations started to call and say, "How can we run the show?" WE started FedExing out the program because a day late is better than a week late. Soon we had hundreds of bags that we would send out and this is extremely expensive, and then we started to work on ways of doing this through satellite, and when we would go on public access in a community, the local radio station wasn't running us decided they wanted to run us, when we were in radio at the public access TV station. The reason we were doing all this is because we wanted to support independent media in this country, both online, radio, and television. It's absolutely critical right now. These are our public universities, they are our public libraries, they are open admissions, they are national treasures, so when you have the net neutrality bill that's going through congress that is absolutely critical, also a critical component of that is public access, I mean in the same way that people fought for radio, public radio, Pacifica radio, and continue to fight to ensure that it remains, people fought to carve out this space on cable, it was public access, it was media activists. Now a lot of people don't turn to public access, it's that dark place on the channel you can hardly see, they don't even turn the light on, but it's got some very good programming. If we could bring this together, if we could do this kind of patchwork quilt all over the country, and it will bring a new audience to public access, people will fight for it, and also in terms of how do you do it in local communities take these global issues, they'll model shows themselves. How can you take on a local issue, do it in your own community? They do it before Democracy Now! Or after Democracy Now! So it started to build and it went from a couple dozen community radio stations to now over 450 community radio and television stations around he country, and soon NPR stations were asking for it and PBS stations are asking for it and now 2 to 3 new stations per week are picking us up, particularly in some of the most conservative areas in this country, and particularly through the south. It is very interesting and they're raising more money than places like All Things Considered and Morning Edition, because people are looking for something other than what the rest of the mass media brings, which is this small circle of pundits who know so little about so much explaining the world to us. You know the truths in your own communities. The issues you're dealing with in your own communities have global effect. And then, of course, the war. And that changed everything, the invasion, because it wasn't just Bush claiming weapons of mass destruction, he could have done it with a megaphone on the steps of the White House and some people would have believed him. He had something more powerful and it was the media. And when it was exposed that it wasn't true, which of course, a lot of media was doing before, but when it was fully exposed, it exposed more than Bush. It exposed a media that simply acted as a conveyor belt for the lies of the administration, and that's where there is this enormous opening. People across the political spectrum are looking for something else. In droves, yes they are now going to the Internet, but also on television and radio, the person who asked about accessibility and also asked about whether we are fooling ourselves, that if you are going to organize on line are you really reaching people. I think we have to do it everywhere, and I hope that we're bringing a lot of people in terms of the digital divide who wouldn't normally go onto the internet, sort of showing arrows to the internet of where to go, who watch television, or who listen, still in this country, most people get their information from television, and so to be a part of that media landscape is absolutely critical, and just briefly in terms of effecting stories and how they do it on the internet as well, it has been absolutely critical in our growth is using open source technology on, open source software, developing our run down system, our Web site democracynow.org, I'm going to use lots of wrong lingo by the way, I'm not the IT person at Democracy Now! So I hope you forgive me, it's a little intimidating to sit in front of you; I still use a pen and everything like that ...really crucial? The net neutrality thing because it's really happening right now, is everybody in this room with the danger of net neutrality being over? Why don't you give the... This room probably does know, but go ahead, I mean, it's important to... Fundamentally, there was a ruling in a court that came down not long ago that ended the law that said there had to be net neutrality, and so now in the House there was a.... everyone thought, Okay well the House is going to pass a bill for Net neutrality and all of a sudden it didn't happen. Well, AT&T, the big guys, have been putting money into the system in such a very systematic and generous way for some time now, that all of a sudden the neutrality part of that bill disappeared, and we had our first success last Thursday in a House committee, 20-13 with seven abstentions, where Net neutrality was voted for. But if it's gone, things like MoveOn and the next MoveOn-like whatever isn't going to happen because all of a sudden it will be a pay-to-play kind of scenario, whereas we've had an open internet where everybody can participate based upon if what they're putting out there is compelling, we will have a system that is based upon, if you pay for a nice rapid download and if you're someone that can't, you are going to be up creek without a paddle, so it's hugely important. It also looks like in the question about the NSA, that these companies that have cooperated so willingly with the National Security Agency, with the government on spying on people are being handsomely rewarded as they reward politicians as well, I mean, they've been doing the work with the government and now their payoff is our internet. Right, well you can switch your long distance service to working assets if you want to punish