Home | Friday 6th May 2011 | Issue 770
INDYMEDIA: FROM THE RUBBLE OF DOUBLE TROUBLE
Regular (but inattentive) visitors to Indymedia, the internet’s stalwart purveyor of all things radical, might be a little surprised to find that the project itself is in jeopardy. Created for Mayday 2001, UK Indymedia has survived a number of shocks, including police seizure of servers, legal threats and a 24/7 barrage of lunacy. It has become a hub, meeting place and and a vital resource for the entire UK activist scene. The newswire fluctuates from wild-eyed conspiracy theorising to solid analysis via slanderous gossip - and the features aren’t much better. However this time the crisis has brewed up within.
For most activists, Indymedia just happens – but behind the scenes are groups of committed activists keeping the whole thing running. In the last few years, there have been serious disagreements about the direction of the whole project. In the red corner BetheMedia, who feel that Indymedia needs to update and transform itself into an aggregator site – something like Indymedia London has been for a while – with no newswire but a selection of articles pulled in from local Indymedia collectives and perhaps other radical news outlets.
In the other red corner are Mayday Indymedia – whose plan is simply keeping Indymedia UK going in its present form , 9/11 newswire nutters ‘n all.
Quite how these two gangs ended up at each others throats is not really any of SchNEWS business – suffice to say that it got quite nasty and personal (in an e-mail lists slanging match kind of way rather than any actual fisticuffs). An agreement to disagree was made in Bradford in late 2010 – formally on May 1st 2011 the two groups would split and migrate to different web domains – nobody was going to get to keep the www.indymedia.org.uk website, which was going to be archived. This was all supposed to happen on May 1st.
Both collectives planned to apply for IMC status (a complex global process) – however as of this week Mayday Indymedia have been blocked from achieving the status, largely following the revelations around the Gateway 303 postings (see SchNEWS 755 - er, sorry guys). The revelation that Indymedia UK moderators were able to monitor IP addresses in real time has proved controversial (although of course anyone involved in Indy admin over the last few years must have been aware of it.)
This failure to gain IMC status by the Mayday collective stymied the whole process, with the BTM team insisting that as the May 1st deadline had been reached then UK Indymedia had to be mothballed. In response the Mayday collective seized the whole site from under their noses by technical wizardry. This is of course about as far away from consensus decision- making as it gets.
So what are we, the punters, left with? On the face of it it’s worked out quite well – we’ve got an editorilaised aggregator site, providing us with the best of independent media Bethemedia.org.uk
Meanwhile good old Indy continues on its wayward path at www.indymedia.org.uk
Maybe it’s possible to bury the hatchet – or if that just can’t be done then just turn to www.schnews.org.uk where the collective operates with a frankly chilling level of cohesion reminiscent of a cloned hivemind.