from the inaugural issue of the Public i (updated slightly)
The Public i is the only news-focused, collectively-run, non-profit newspaper in Urbana-Champaign. The paper is a project of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (U-C IMC) and is organized and edited entirely by volunteer citizen-journalists. Our articles are written as much as possible by community members, who are telling the stories that affect their lives.
We envision seven distinct but not exclusive focus areas, as follows:
- Government and Politics: will cover city and county government proceedings and officials; boards of education and educational issues; legislation and governance issues
- Human Rights: will focus on international and local human rights issues of all kinds; health care, child care, and elder care concerns; and the criminal ‘justice’ system;
- Environment: will scrutinize sprawl and sustainability; the power industry; issues of environmental degradation and pollution; genetically modified organisms; and relevant legislation;
- Labor and Economics: will concentrate on unions and workers of all types, and on economic policy, including globalization and fair trade, sweatshops, and the living wage;
- Media: will spotlight local media and its ownership and biases; media concentration and conglomerates; advertising and consumerism; the Independent Media Center movement; and low-power/micropower radio;
- Arts: will encompass both news about art and art itself, including prose, poetry and graphic art; discussions of performances, books, music, and other projects and shows; and
- Community Forum: will serve as a venue for responses to our paper’s articles and to community issues, with opinions, columns, cartoons, and letters to the community written by members of the community.
We invite community members to submit article or story ideas in any of these seven areas. We invite you, in other words, to help create the news that states your views.
Why call it the Public i?
The name of the paper evolved from a democratic, consensus-oriented brainstorming process conducted by the volunteers who constitute the founding members. The name public i was eventually chosen because of the many interpretations and meanings it conjures up. The ‘public’ part of the name derives from the fact that we see this paper a true community venture, reliant on public interaction and participation. The small letter ‘i’ stands for ‘independent’, and has come to symbolize the global Independent Media Center movement. Taken as a whole, the title public i also suggests a “public eye,” expressive of our desire to bring vital news, information, and opinion into the public arena, that is, into the public eye.
These are not the only possible interpretations of the name, but it is our hope that the public i will come to represent a source of reliable, interesting and challenging news for our community.
What is an Independent Media Center?
The Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (U-C IMC) is a small but significant part of a global movement to create accurate, high-quality, grassroots news, independent of the corporately-owned media. A number of activists and independent media organizations created the first Independent Media Center in Seattle, to provide grassroots coverage of the World Trade Organization protests in November 1999. Several members of the Urbana-Champaign IMC were instrumental in that effort.
Since that time, Independent Media Centers have been established in dozens of countries on every continent except Antarctica. The United States currently has over 25 Independent Media Centers, with new ones being established every month. The Urbana-Champaign IMC is at the forefront of the Indymedia movement, and is the first to obtain federal 501(c)(3) non-profit status as an educational, charitable organization.
What does the Public i do?
The Public i exists to promote individual and community empowerment. We aspire to assist people in contributing to the welfare of their communities by asserting ownership of the messages and images that so profoundly influence the lives of all of us. We seek to increase the diversity of perspectives and experiences represented in the news, and to stimulate political interest and participation by people who are not members of the political and media elite.
The Pubic i is actively working to build collaborative relationships with diverse groups and organizations-the people who live and labor in our communities.
The Public i is striving to break down the artificial wall between “media producers” and “media consumers”. We are actively working towards an interactive news web site to be used as a forum for anyone to post news or commentary for all to see. In turn, anyone can respond to a posting, creating an on-line dialogue among reader-journalists. Our hopes is that our volunteer journalists turn to the web site to learn what’s going on, using news postings as leads for future radio news programs or newspaper articles, and we may ask posters to follow up themselves on their own stories for use in larger projects.
Outside cyberspace, the Public i exists also in a real, physical space in the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (UC-IMC), located at 202 South Broadway in downtown Urbana. The Center contains video and audio production facilities, free public Internet-accessible computers, a reading room, a circulating library and media archive, and space for meetings, debates, poetry slams, and other community events, and much, much more. The UC-IMC also has monthly art shows and put on informative talks, lectures, topical discussions, and regular music concerts.
How can you utilize and support the Public i?
There are many ways to get involved and support the public i. All Public i activities are open for participation by anyone. We are a volunteer group and one of the oldest working groups at the UC-IMC. We meet weekly on Wednesdays at 7pm at the UC-IMC. We encourage new people to join us, and we can provide any needed training and equipment. You can write for the paper, produce audio, photograph or videotape events around town, and soon you will be able to post the news you see and hear to this web site. The possibilities are limited only by your willingness to act. You can also email us at the.public.i[at]gmail.com
Most importantly, we urge you to be a critical consumer of the news you read, hear, and see. The Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (and the Public i) exists as an alternative avenue for accessing and producing news, but it is only as strong as each community member’s will to examine, to investigate, and ultimately to report on the stories and events that are vital to us all.