Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Some notes on OURMedia

We Chinese always complain about our own culture being too paternalistic and ritualistic. But to my surprise, it seems that Australia, a former white people's colony and a postcolonial multi-cultural society, is no exception.

The first two days of OURMedia 6th International Conference really disappoint me very much. I hope the coming three days would be better. Yesterday (April 9), in the long series of screening, we saw how the organizers of this conference allow senior colleagues to occupy so much time in the early part which make the whole program run behind the schedule seriously. The young media activists were left with not enough time.

Seniority does guarantee quality. I don't feel comfortable with Lucia Salinas' Rise up Maubere People! FRETILIN today which is only a mouthpiece of Fretilin in Timor Lesta. As a short film for Fretilin's election campaign, it only boasts of Fretilin's achievement in its programs of agriculture and their determination to lead the country to a brighter future. Salinas said that it attempted to counterbalance the Australian mainstream media which unreasonably accused its President of corruption.

I don't have any problem with Fretilin because I know so less about this left-wing political party. As a leftist in general sense, I strongly identify with Fretilin's political values. But westerners' whole-hearted support to the propaganda of a radical party in the Third World is not something new. Salnia's work reminds me of Edger Snow, an American journalist who helped the Chinese Communist Party to create a very positive image in and outside China. I am not sure if Snow justified himself as defending communism against the anti-communist propaganda. Today few people believe that the tatic of "propaganda against propaganda" did any good to the Chinese people. I'm not certain if this Fretilin's "official film" could do any good to the people in Timor Lesta.

****

The first few planetary sessions of the conference are boring. Most are for organization representatives to talk to themselves by repeating their NGO languages again and again. To be honest, I didn't find any controversial issue addressed. I understand this kind of PR stuff is inevitable. But why couldn't the organizers reduce it to minimum? No need to occupy the whole morning.

In one of the afternoon parallel penals, less than ten people attended. I don't understand why they couldn't reduce the number of penals and make the topic more focused.

Gabi's presentation on her concern with media policy and "citizen media" makes me feel curious about the politics involved in it. It seems that the Japanese politicians are not interested in it. And social movements are so weak in Japan. But Osaka city government is still funding projects like remo.or.jp. So it seems that there is a divergence between policy and funding. It happens all the time. Getting money for cultural project is not that difficult though it might not be an easy money. But policy changes are more difficult. How the government perceive media and culture and its relations with the civil society deserve further studies.

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