The term media was first used in the 1920’s in conjunction with the introduction nationwide radio networks, and large-circulation newspapers and magazines. Since then, the term has come to mean much, much more. Media, which is the plural of the word medium, now represents anything from nightly television news to CD’s, DVD’s, Billboards, and any other form of mass communication.

It’s because of the media’s pervasiveness in our culture that the Media Literacy Club, the Social Issues Resource Center and the Communications Department are co-sponsoring an event on Saturday, April 8, entitled “The Media Environment: A conference on Politics, Reform, and Activism.”

The event, which was conceived of when Holly Robinson, president of the Media Literacy Club, approached Shabnam Mojtahedi, assistant coordinator of the SIRC, with the idea of a program dealing with race issues. From then, it’s developed into a set of workshops, including some dealing specifically with media reform and media activism.

“[The workshops] are put together by some really cool people,” says Mojtahedi, adding that they are all local voices, from Bellingham and Seattle.

Each workshop takes on a specific issue and is headed by an expert in their field. The Media Activism workshop, directed by Susan Gleeson of Yes Magazine, will examine the different avenues that one can take to shape media into what they want, in addition to media production and reform aspects. In addition, Gleeson will use the workshop to talk about media literacy and teaching about the media, as well speaking about aspects of Yes Magazine.

Other workshops include the media reform workshop, which will be taught by Michael Carlberg and will deal with the relationship between politics and the media; and a workshop dealing with race in the media, featuring Naomi Ishisaka, co-founder of Colors Northwest, which will observe the ways in which we observe ourselves in the media, stereotypes found in the media, and race relations in the media.

Also, Silja J. A. Talvi, a well known and well respected freelance journalist will be working with two workshops. First, she’ll be directing a workshop on class and culture in the media, where she will talk about the media’s normal approach to class and culture, different approaches that one can take, and what might be right or wrong in the current media environment. Next, she will be teaching an introduction to freelance journalism, which will function as a primer in a subject that Talvi is well versed in. The goal for the freelance journalism workshop is to give the attendees a starting foundation, which they can hopefully apply to their own writings.

Finally, the keynote address will be delivered by Jonathan Lawson from Reclaim the Media, which can be found at www.reclaimthemedia.org. Reclaim the media is a Seattle-based organization working at the center of these issues, who, according to their website, are “dedicated to pursuing a more just society by transforming our media system and expanding the communications rights of ordinary people through grassroots organizing, education, networking and advocacy.”

Although The Media Environment may sound as though its geared to those working with the media on an intimate level, it’s really for anyone interested in their current media choices. Everyone who attends can use the knowledge learned throughout the conference to work towards improving the current media environment. In the end, the conference gives readers, listeners, and watchers options other than turning off the television, taking the batteries out of the radio, and canceling their internet subscriptions.

The conference, which is entirely free, will be held on Saturday, April 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Western’s Fairhaven Auditorium.
For more information, call the SIRC at 650-6804, or email wwu.medialiteracy@hotmail.com.