March 30, 2022

The Park Center for Independent Media circulates the Indy Brief. Subscribe for a weekly selection of news stories from journalists operating outside traditional corporate systems.

The Headlines

Upcoming Events

Reclaiming Lost Film Histories on Friday, April 1

The Edge

Submissions Open for The Edge

“We Have Entire Nation-States Using These Technologies to Gain Control”

“Don’t Worry, This Is Part of the Border Game”

Jeff Cohen: “Magical Thinking” When U.S. Drops the Bombs

Russia-Ukraine War

How Much Less Newsworthy Are Civilians in Other Conflicts? (FAIR)

Ukrainian Climate Activists Say They Don’t Want the US’s Fracked Gas Exports (Truthout)

U.S. Military

When Money Is No Object (Popular Information)

Upcoming Events

Reclaiming Lost Film Histories on Friday, April 1

On Friday, April 1, at 12:00 p.m., join a conversation between Film historian Scott MacDonald and experimental filmmaker Su Friedrich about Friedrich’s online projects to restore the legacies of women editors and William Greaves.

This is the next collaborative event of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival and PCIM, and it will be followed by a duo of examinations on climate and media next week: first is a panel with climate scientists and independent journalists, then is the Inaugural International Congress on Climate, Media, and Science.

Read more about all our upcoming events here.

The Edge

Submissions Open for The Edge

We welcome submissions of commentaries, op-eds, features, and reports for publication on our website. Pieces are encouraged that challenge mainstream media, highlight issues that are ignored by corporate media outlets, and provide information that is relevant to students and the general public alike.

Read more about The Edge and see the full submission guidelines here. 

“We Have Entire Nation-States Using These Technologies to Gain Control”

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF) and the Park Center for Independent Media hosted a book launch for “The Social Media Debate: Unpacking the Social, Psychological, and Cultural Effects of Social Media,” a book that aims to explore the questions surrounding the negative and positive impacts of social media on society.

Editor Devan Rosen, professor in the Department of Media Arts, Sciences and Studies, spoke about the book with two of the contributing authors, Ysabel Gerrard and Francesca Sobande, on March 23 via Zoom. The book has 14 chapters that consist of work from 23 authors, including Rosen.

“These companies (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) knew what they were doing in creating things that were highly addictive,” Rosen said. “On a more macro level, we have entire nation-states using these technologies to gain control. Bolsonaro in Brazil would not be President were it not for his ability to control social media.”

Read more from the launch on The Edge.

Jeff Cohen: “Magical Thinking” When U.S. Drops the Bombs

Jeff Cohen appeared on Free Speech TV’s “Just Solutions” this month to speak about wartime censorship in United States news media. While today’s empathetic coverage of Ukrainian civilians provides appropriate emphasis on the non-combatant casualties of war, such examinations were quashed 20 years ago when the U.S., rather than Russia, invaded a nation.

Cohen described MSNBC’s imperatives that banned discussions on civilian deaths when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. And when people lost their jobs for criticizing the invasion’s impact on ordinary citizens, reporters self-censored so they could keep working. “Every journalist in the U.S. understood that it’s off limits to talk about civilian deaths and civilian trauma.”

Read Cohen’s commentary on The Edge.

“Don’t Worry, This Is Part of the Border Game”

Journalist and author Todd Miller joined Ithaca College in October to discuss his fourth book on borders, “Build Bridges, Not Walls: A Journey to a World Without Borders.” He shared several impactful accounts of reporting from national borders and the injustice he witnesses.

One story concerned a U.S. border patrol agent investigating a tripped motion sensor along the U.S.-Mexico border. The agent found a man asking for help with a family member and ended up questioning the callous violence that’s “part of the border game.”

Watch Miller tell the story here.

Russia-Ukraine War

How Much Less Newsworthy Are Civilians in Other Conflicts?

During its coverage of the opening weeks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. news media emphasized the impacts on civilians more than it had in other recent wars. FAIR set out to quantify this discrepancy among coverage by several major news outlets during the first week of invasion to find out whose voices were amplified and what angles were covered.

The study revealed a “familiar reliance on U.S. officials to frame events, as well as a newfound ability to cover the impact on civilians — when those civilians are white and under attack by an official U.S. enemy, rather than by the U.S. itself.”

While there was a flood of 119 Ukrainian voices, many were “person-on-the-street” interviews, with minimal Ukrainian expert commentary. FAIR further analyzed the pattern of white journalists registering a newfound shock that Ukrainian refugees “look like us.”

Ukrainian Climate Activists Say They Don’t Want the US’s Fracked Gas Exports

Climate activists living in Ukraine are calling for a dramatic wartime mobilization for a transition to clean energy. They don’t want the United States’ fracked gas exports or to further the detriment of U.S. Gulf Coast communities living with the impacts of so-called liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure, Truthout reports.

Activists in both countries are criticizing the recent energy security deal between President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen struck Friday in Brussels, Belgium. The leaders announced a new task force that would increase LNG shipments to Europe to decrease the continent’s dependence on Russian oil and gas, while working to reduce demand and expand renewable energy to meet the U.S. and European Union’s shared climate goals.

But despite the promise of renewable energy, Ukrainian and U.S. Gulf Coast activists called this plan a disastrous answer to the need for independence from Russian fossil fuels.

U.S. Military

When Money Is No Object

Despite the partisan rift in U.S. politics, Republicans and Democrats come together year after year to support massive increases in defense spending. The trend continues this year, after Joe Biden introduced his budget this week, which calls for $815 billion in national security spending, including $773 billion for the Pentagon.

“If history is any guide,” writes Judd Legum at Popular Information, “the amount Congress ultimately approves will be much larger.” This year’s budget tacks $33 billion to last year’s Congress-inflated number and doesn’t include the $6.5 billion in supplemental funding the Department of Defense just received to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In 2020, the U.S. spent more on national defense than the next 11 countries combined. And while last year’s withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan might have allowed those billions in “savings” to decrease the Pentagon’s budget, this year’s proposed increase alone amounts to the U.K.’s entire defense budget.

Read more about U.S. defense spending on The Edge: from Heidi Peltier of The Costs of War Project, Dave Lindorff on the Pentagon’s failed audits, and Brandon Smith on tallying national security issues.

In Other News

1. UK vows to step up military support as Russian troops ‘regroup’ to focus on Donbas (The Independent)

2. The Media Is Not Ready for the Midterms (The Atlantic)

3. Planned Parenthood Sues To Block Idaho’s Texas-Style Abortion Ban (HuffPost)

4. Ukraine refugee exodus reaches four million (BBC)

5. Revealed: Trump used White House phone for call on January 6 that was not on official log (The Guardian

Read previous Briefs and more from independent media on the PCIM website, and The Edge, and follow PCIM on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

The Indy Brief is edited by Jeremy Lovelett.