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New website gives activists a fair chance

by Archives February 7, 2001
A large crowd spilled into the foyer of the Petit Campus last Thursday night for the launch of the Centre for Media Alternatives website, www.cmaq.net. True to their goal, organizers tried not to turn anyone away, offering impromptu presentations in the stairwell for those who couldn’t get in.
“We’ve been waiting to hold the official launch until we reached a critical mass. This is a smack in the face that there’s something happening at the street level, ” said CMAQ’s Chad Lubelsky, a former Concordia Communications student.
CMAQ bills itself as an alternative resource for information about the April 2001 Quebec Summit, and, in particular, the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). With editorial teams in Montreal and Quebec City, the group presents an
opportunity for diverse sectors of society to tell their own stories, rather than have them told, or ignored, in the mainstream press.
CMAQ not only aims itself at independent media outlets, but also grassroots movements, students, activists, and just about anyone with a different take on the FTAA and globalization.
“We’re all essentially part of the same family. What CMAQ offers is a platform of convergence,” Lubelsky said.
Writers of the CMAQ website can publish work in French, English, or Spanish on issues that deal with the FTAA, globalization, free trade, social justice at the local, national and international levels, or any and all activities surrounding the Quebec City 2001 Summit of the Americas.
For those not equipped with media gear, the group has set up an open resource centre in Quebec City, complete with computers, scanners, tape-recorders and cameras. It also offers basic training in how best to use these tools to get your message across.
“The media as an institution, privileges other institutions. They’re still going to the same people for the story,” said Lubelsky While he believes there are good people in mainstream media, Lubelsky argues there’s always more to an event than what tends to get reported.
“The people who are on the streets and putting their bodies on the line are also part of that story,” he said.
UQAM professor and former journalist Normand Baillargeon, one of the evenings keynote speakers, brought home this lack of balance by citing the over 1,000 media representatives gathered for the Sydney Olympics, compared to the scant few available for other international issues.
Other presenters, included documentary film-maker Malcolm Guy and Noam Chomsky, a media critic and political activist. Chomsky made his presentation via a video-tape interview and touched on the need for diverse perspectives in the news, the lack of any real debate on free trade, and globalization in the mainstream press.

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