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The National Conference for Media Reform – Day 2 & 3

The National Conference for Media Reform – Day 2 & 3

An important panel which took place this afternoon was Watchdogging the Media, moderated by Craig Aaron of Free Press, with speakers David Brock (Media Matters), Janine Jackson (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) and Norman Solomon, author and member of Institute for Public Accuracy.

David Brock of Media Matters opened the talk and when he mentioned Glen Beck getting his own slot on Good Morning America, the people in attendance booed and hissed.

The conference Saturday did not carry just one message, however; nor did this particular panel. In Watchdogging the Media, just about every news organization was targeted in one way or another, including The New York Times, against whom a lawsuit was brought up by one attendee who spoke in front of the room full of people – the woman insisted that the organization FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) had ignored her attempts to get in contact with the organization over the suit, but charged The New York Times for attempting to rig an election in a bout of libel and journalistic fraud.

Watchdogging the Media was one of the most interesting panels of the day in that it opened up discussion on a subject to which there has only been three sides available for debate up until now – is CNN/CBS better than FOX News? Is it the other way around? Or is it all equally damaging to the nature of our democracy?

The central question of this discussion is how to get that third question into the public focus. The notable characteristic of this entire conference is how the attendees view the mainstream media: it is given no credit in this crowd; they think of the major news networks without favoritism and only when acknowledging the underlying destructiveness of the way they do business. See these amazing crochet hairstyles

Norman Solomon is also the key speaker in a documentary in production that, when released, will be called War Made Easy. The video is made from footage taken from the presidential archives, and in depicting the way news media helps to distort and sensationalize war, the filmmakers say they fear they may have violated the fair-use policy of copyright law.

Some footage they said still needs to be purchased and its use is temporarily illegal. Some of this footage includes film of Walter Cronkite stepping out of a bomber saying “what a great way to go to war, huh?” and holding a microphone up to the bomber-pilot’s face. The purpose of this clip was to demonstrate the media’s fascination with the “latest-and-greatest” war technology. What an amazing spanish hair blog – Peinados para Cabello Largo

The screening of this film was one of many, among others including “Outfoxed,” done by a group of people intent on exposing the FOX News Company’s apparent bias in newsgathering and reporting. Also screened was A Work in Progress: Putting the ME Back in Media, Further Off the Straight and Narrow: New Gay and Lesbian Visibility on Television, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes.
Key speakers at the end of the night included Robert W. McChesney and “President Bush,” who experienced the luxury of being interviewed by Helen Thomas, who also appeared as guest speaker in the panel The Press on the War and the War on the Press.

Actress Geena Davis (Beetlejuice, Commander in Chief, The Long Kiss Goodnight) finished the keynote speeches talking about the imbalance of women to men in all media since the beginning of television and movies, citing the top 100 children’s films and gave percentages representing the imbalance.

The question and answer sessions from Watchdogging the Media and “President Bush” will be available on the CT blog later today.

Sunday

Controversial activist during the Vietnam War and star of the popular 80’s workout tape series Jane Fonda closed the conference Sunday along with Van Jones.

Like Ms. Davis from the night before, Fonda discussed issues of women’s equality and expressed her opposition to occupation in Iraq, citing the case of the American soldiers who raped a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killed her family in support of her claim that our presence is doing more harm than good.

Van Jones, the founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights spoke today about the overall nature of the conference, expressing his satisfaction with the progression of the movement and encouraging everyone to engage in their own versions of media dissemination.

He praised private websites and citizen journalism as the new bastions of hope for freedom of the media, and said the combined efforts of all the people who care about what is happening at the conference will indefinitely alter the course of history. He says the size of the movement can not be ignored. Outside after the conference, attendees and some activists speculated that the movement of which they are all a part can go one of two ways – it can bring about historic change, or be smothered up by the large companies to which the 1.5 million people are opposed.

Most of the events and speeches from the conference are available for download in mp3 format from the Free Press Conference website

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Dwindling audiences end late-night flicks at Byrd Death of a Byrd Theatre tradition

Dwindling audiences end late-night flicks at Byrd Death of a Byrd Theatre tradition

The smell of butter and popcorn no longer fills the entrance of the Byrd Theatre on late Saturday

nights.

For the past five years, the historic Byrd Theatre had featured a classic film every Saturday night at midnight. Film fans flocked to the Byrd to see movies, such as “The Goonies,” “The Princess Bride” and “Labyrinth.”

Byrd Theatre manager Bob Enos recalls the Saturday night crowds.

“Most of the films we played were from the late ’70s and into the ’80s. The midnight movies played to the 16- to 20-year-old crowd,” Enos said.

Many students at VCU, such as mass communications major Matt Becker, 23, used to go to Carytown for the chance to catch a late-night classic on the big screen for only a couple of bucks.

“Me and my friends would get together to go see ‘Donnie Darko,’ ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,’ and ‘The Goonies,’ as well. More often than not, the theater was packed,” Becker said.

For now, VCU students will have to find other things to do on a Saturday night, since the Byrd Theatre is no longer a haven for fans of a late-night flick.

“The Saturday-night feature has got to bring in enough money to pay the bills, and it has to support itself … or at least break even,” Enos said.

The problem the Byrd is experiencing is a matter of patronage, said Tony Pelling, president of the Byrd Theatre Foundation. Patrons who once came to the features are no longer present. Those former patrons have either left town or lost interest in the midnight movie, he said.

“Our patronage kept us going. Without the patronage, we can’t keep showing the Saturday-night feature,” Pelling said.

In order to show the Saturday-night feature, Enos and the foundation had to pay their employees overtime, which highly increased the theater’s overhead costs to show the films.

“The operating cost for the feature would need to maximize the return. The people just weren’t showing up anymore,” Pelling said.

The lack of patronage for the Saturday-night feature left Pelling and the other members of the board no choice except to stop showing the midnight movies. However, Pelling, along with the rest of the foundation, wishes to keep a relationship with VCU and its students.

“If the VCU students would like a movie, they better let us know, for we would like to continue our association with the school as time goes on,” Pelling said.

The Saturday-night feature developed a repertoire that often packed the 1,400-seat theater, employing the balcony and the lower level. However, Enos said eventually the repertoire was stuck on repeats.

“The reruns we were playing – some worked, and some didn’t. Because of this people stopped showing up,” Enos said. “We just wore out the three dozen films that did well for us.

“We will probably try it again; we will just have to see,” Enos said. “But for now it just hasn’t been in our interests financially.”