Chuck0's KC Diary: Introduction
It's good to see that the Kansas City Independent Media Center is finally gaining some steam. My hometown really needs more independent media, so KC IMC fills an important role when it comes to community-based DIY journalism. We all know that despite its lively Letters to the Editor page, the Kansas City Star is sitll a medicore corporate chain newspaper. We know that our local airwaves are dominated by corporate media, ranging from the same old cock rock on the radio to chalk line journalism on the local TV news. Kansas City is my hometown and it deseparately needs alterntive and independent media.
First of all, I should give a nod to my friend Zoe Mitchell back in Washingon, DC, who penned a series of personal "Zoe's Diaries" to the DC IMC website. My goal with Chuck0's KC Diary is to use the personal writing frmat to comment about various things about Kansas City, such as activism, the Royals, media monopoly, homelessness, suburban sprawl, development, the police, local government, and so on. I hope that people will find these essays to be interesting and I hope that they will become a positive contribution to the KC IMC project.
I relocated back to Kansas City from Washington, DC last year for economic reasons. I've lived in the southern part of Kansas City for much of my life until I went off to college at KU. My family moved to Kansas City before I even turned one year old. I went to elementary school at Calvary Lutheran School in Waldo and then attended publuc school in the Blue Valley school system, graduating from the original Blue Valley High School in 1983.
I'm a 38-year-old white male anarchist who is a professional librarian and activist. I've been involved in the anti-globalization movement for many years, as well as the alternative media movement. I became an activist at KU during the 1980s when I got involved in the student anti-apartheid movement. I currently run a popular political website called Infoshop.org when I'm not working on other projects.
But enough about me, what about independent media and Kansas City? From what I've seen, Kansas City has a growing independent media movement. Lots of people are upset about corporate influences in our communities and corporate control over our media. The media in Kansas City looks like the media in just about every other city, because the media here is owned by corporations that run the media in every other city. How many of you know which radio stations are owned by Clear Channel? How much local, community programming do you hear on these Clear Channel stations? Did you know that these stations are obligated to provide community programming as a condition in their license to use the public airwaves?
The other corporate-controlled media is just as much a problem as the radio dial. We need to get the corporations off of the TV and out of the newspapers. Local TV news is a vast wasteland of garbage. The local TV news is far worse than what I've seen on East Coast local news. The 10 o'clock TV news in Kansas City is dominated by "chalk-line journalism." In other words, the news is presented straight from the police files with a little video thrown in. This also the journalism of fear. The crime rate in Kansas City just isn't that high and it is going down. The news that affects the lives of most people--such as unemployment, bad bosses, non-unionized workplaces, pollution, affordable housing, bad schools--is not being covered because chalk-line sensationalism is allowed to dominate the TV news. And don't get me started on the racism of Kansas City TV news. The constant parade of mug shots and wanted sketches would lead most people to conclude that the main contribution our African-American neighbors are giving to the community is crime. We need to challenge the local TV news on their racist coverage of our communities. And the chalk-line journalism just has to stop. Don't give us this cock and bull routine about how your station won all of these damn journalism awards.
Then there is the Kansas City Star, the dominant local newspaper that is a pale ghost of its former self. When I left the are in 1989, the Star was still a newspaper of some weight. Now it is a corporate chain clone--courtesy of Disney and the Knight Ridder chain--that offers up information like a bad edition of USA Today. OK, so the editorial page is much livelier than the Washington Post, but the rest of the newspaper is just pathetic. And more and more the Star seems to think that creating a huge infographic for an original front page story is some big contribution to journalism.
Chuck0's KC Diary will focus quite a bit on content published in the Star, including their regular columnists. Everybody is tired of hearing what white middle class Yuppies want to do with Kansas City. I'm a middle class white anarchist with a few ideas about Kansas City. And KC IMC will hopefully become a voice for the many people in the Kansas City region whose views never get aired on the radio, shown on TV, or reported in the Kansas City Star.
Finally, it's good to hear the Royals are excited about their upcoming season, but let's keep them in that stadium and not give out more corporate welfare to some crackpot scheme to build them a stadium downtown. Go Royals!