grassroots coverage of global events

Thursday, November 1, 2001
5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Bartos Theater
MIT Media Lab

20 Ames Street


Over the past several decades, independent film and video makers have used local-access television to spotlight and provide alternative perspectives on topics of vital interest in their communities. Yet, there has also emerged a national or even international network of local-access producers who share tapes, collaborate on productions, and participate in larger policy debates. Paper Tiger Television has been a leading force in building up this community of video activists, and during the Gulf War it demonstrated how such a network could provide alternative news coverage of an international conflict. Big Noise's film about the Seattle WTO protests, This Is What Democracy Looks Like, is an important example of how lightweight digital cameras can give a street-level perspective on activism. Now, the events of September 11 and their aftermath have once again focused attention on the limitations of mainstream media coverage and led to fresh demands for alternative news sources. In this Forum, we will examine how grassroots documentary makers such as such as Paper Tiger Television and Big Noise Films are responding to the attacks and the war against terrorism, and what challenges they face in forming grassroots media organizations for covering international developments.


Dee Dee Halleck is founder of activism collective Paper Tiger Television and co-founder of Deep Dish Television, the first national public access satellite network. She is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego, has directed and produced numerous documentaries, and is the author of Hand Held Visions: the Impossible Possibilities of Community Media, a collection of her essays to be published by Fordham University Press.

Richard Rowley
is co-founder of Big Noise Films, a media collective devoted to political documentary. His film This Is What Democracy Looks Like is an account from the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle. Rowley and the Big Noise collective have been instrumental in the new Independent Media Center movement, producing segments of the Showdown in Seattle and Breaking the Bank satellite broadcasts.