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Independent Media Center

The Independent Media Center (IMC or Indymedia) is a collective of media organizations and journalists. It was started in late November, 1999, to cover the protests of the anti-globalization movement against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, Washington. By 2002, there were 89 local IMCs around the world spread between 31 countries plus the West Bank and 6 continents. The country with the most IMCs is the United States with 39, followed by Canada with 11.

IMCs produce print, audio, and video journalism, but they are most famous for their open publishing newswires: internet sites where anybody can publish information. Between 1999 and 2001, they were focused almost exclusively on up-to-the-minute coverage of summits where anti-globalization movement protests were occurring. As they expanded, though, they have added more news and analysis, with a strong anti- corporate and leftist bias. Their coverage is often unique: for example, during the economic/political crises in Argentina in 2001 and 2002, many of the groups which helped in opposing the government used the IMC as a place to publish information regarding their activities and pictures from the protests.

The IMCs' newswires have gotten them into some trouble recently. In early May 2003, after receiving numerous complaints about newswire stories that referred to Israeli Jews as "Zionazis (http://chapelhill.indymedia.org/news/2003/02/2433.php)", Google decided to stop including the IMCs in Google News[?] searches. This spawned a PetitionOnline petition (http://www.petitiononline.com/IMCgoogl/petition), which has probably amassed as many bogus signatures as real ones. The IMCs are still included in normal Google searches, however.

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Local collectives are expected to be open and inclusive of a variety of different local activist organisations, so that even those without internet access can participate both in content creation and in content consumption.

The structure is non-hierarchical in terms of political power relationships, though there do exist de facto hierarchies, due either to control over physical resources (i.e. servers), access to funding, the fact that certain "global" functions are needed, or simply because it makes sense to coordinate within geographically close regions, without any formal link to geographical borders.

Conflicts have arisen over the involvement of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (now generally considered to be associated with Yasser Arafat's Fateh movement) in the Palestine IMC (http://jerusalem.indymedia.org), because they brought with them an authoritarian organisation style and a requirement that all members adhere to a Marxist line.

Role among International Media Networks

Indymedia is sometimes considered by its fans to be a competitor to corporate-owned international media networks, such CNN or ABC-USA or the BBC. However, it would be more accurate to say that Indymedia is an example of an open publishing news network/community for leftist activists. Because of its open organising structure and its internal rules that no Indymedia center can become a commercial or for-profit organisation, it is unlikely that it can be bought in a take-over bid.

Independence from Governments

In September 2002, the Ford Foundation, proposed funding for an Indymedia regional meeting. This was refused because many volunteers, especially those from IMC Argentina (http://argentina.indymedia.org), were uncomfortable with accepting money from the Foundation, which they believe to be funded by the CIA.

Some IMCs in Europe have faced legal action or threats of legal action related to questions of libel or hate speech. They took local, autonomous decisions to temporarily suspend the site while the different activist groups reorganised to find a consensual, constructive method of dealing with these problems and to increase openness and non-authoritarian organising methods.


While Indymedia has a good reputation amongst those that it caters to (anti-globalization and anti-war activists, mainly), this reputation isn't universal. Its critics often point out that since anyone can publish without any kind of editorial process, opinions and conspiracy theories often get published as fact, along with inaccurate (often wildly so) and anti-Semitic articles. For these reasons, and others, it is not generally considered to be a credible news source outside of its core clientele.

See also

  • Wikinews (http://meta.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikews).
  • Wikimedia (http://www.wikimedia.org/).

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