Indymedia to close unless you get involvedTagged as: indymedia
Published by group: Notts Indymedia
Following a lot of discussion in our meetings, the Nottingham Indymedia collective has decided to disable publishing on the site from 31st January. The dwindling input into this site from local activists and groups has left us wondering whether the effort that goes into maintaining the site is still needed and wanted.
We will hold a public meeting on 18th February, 7.30pm at the Sumac Centre, Nottingham, to discuss the future of Indymedia in the region. We welcome anyone with any interest in the current Nottingham Indymedia site or independent media in general to come with ideas and energy. What happens next will be very dependent on what happens in that meeting.
Some members of the current collective have been doing what we do for the whole of the 7.5 years that this site has been in existence. We’ve had fun and achieved a lot. Now it’s up to you.
Nottingham Indymedia is being used less and less frequently. Because we don’t log IPs, we have no idea how many users are accessing the site, but we can get some measure of how much it is used by counting the number of items on the newswire and the number of comments we attract. In 2012 users published 302 articles, zines, tumbles and other media, 171 events and 276 comments. This compares to 522 newswire items, 172 events and 523 comments in 2011 and 624 newswire items, 226 events and 953 comments in 2010. Year on year the amount of content on the site is decreasing. We had a particularly slow final quarter of 2012. Only 46 newswire items were published compared with 149 in 2011 and 190 in 2012.
This decreased usage of the site has led the collective to question whether our site is still useful to our community and whether that community still exists. Technologically, Indymedia platforms built by volunteer activist coders, have been far surpassed by corporate web giants with armies of well-paid staff. Their more flexible, better maintained and constantly updated platforms, like Facebook, Flickr and Twitter, are more attractive to the casual observer, especially as they have managed to achieve hegemony over the online world. It often seems like everyone’s on Facebook so it seems to make sense to many to put their content there, where they have a wider potential audience than on a small, local Indymedia site. Many young political activists now have grown up never questioning the internet giants. They have no memories of the times before the internet was enclosed. To such people the Nottingham Indymedia site may seem inflexible, unattractive and difficult to use. And why post there if their friends aren’t going to see it?
But we know that not everyone thinks this way. There are many who understand the dangers of putting politically subversive content in the hands of corporations who log your details and have working agreements with police forces and governments. There are those who do want to create a community that questions the authorities and works for social, environmental and economic justice. But maybe that community has moved on – creating links between struggles through Twitter curation and aggregating newsfeeds. Perhaps using social media whilst remaining anonymous through the use of Tor and VPNs has become the new frontier for activists.
Perhaps most disappointing of all is the possibility that we are experiencing a downturn in struggle that is unprecedented in recent years. Certainly Nottingham seems a quieter place in terms of radical activity than it has been for some time.
We have discussed all of these possibilities but we are limited by our viewpoint – we have all been committed to the Indymedia project and see the reasons why it is important and useful. That’s why we need users of the site and non-users from the communities who we think ought to be users to tell us what needs to be done. Is the technology insufficient, is it the fact that other platforms have more users, is it that there’s nothing going on to report on or is it something completely different that we haven’t thought of?
We are sure that many similar issues have arisen for other local Indymedia sites that have decided to make drastic changes in recent times. In July, Northern Indymedia made a callout for new volunteers citing dwindling activity as a reason. Then in October London Indymedia announced that they were to close, saying that “this Indymedia project is for many reasons no longer the one which we think is tactically useful to put our energy into”.
The crux of the matter is that while being involved in the kind of transparent, accountable and open media collectives that form the Indymedia network takes time and effort. We are all volunteers and have to balance the rest of the commitments that make up our lives with what we do to keep sites going and creating content. When lots of users are generating lots of great stuff that inspires us and keeps the site going. When there is little going on we question the usefulness of what we are doing and put more energy elsewhere. Then the site starts getting neglected and users go elsewhere creating a vicious cycle.
We have tried outreach via callouts for support on the site, holding workshops and most recently sending mailouts to hundreds of grassroots community groups across the East Midlands about what they can get out of the site. None of this activity seems to have stimulated more interest in the site. So we thought we’d try something more drastic.
We have decided to, perhaps temporarily, disable publishing on this site as a clear demonstration of what will be lost unless there is new energy in the project. If no one notices then it’s clear that we aren’t needed any more and we can move on to something else. If people still think the site is worth maintaining then we welcome them to join us and get involved in the future of independent media in Nottingham and the East Midlands.