Indie media praised

Ashland Independent Media Week runs through Saturday, featuring a collection of local and national voices garnering support for independent media and community activism.

This year's Independent Media Week includes live performances, independent films, workshops and discussions, with guests coming from as far as New York to support alternative publications, independent radio and television stations.

The week's theme, "A well-informed citizenry is a cornerstone of democracy," will be emphasized throughout the festivities, and coordinators are hoping each event informs the public about the importance of independent media.

But according to Jason Houk, program director of KSKQ-94.9 — a local station airing music and political talk radio — it is also about having fun.

"This is a coalition of media networks taking time to celebrate our own media resources," Houk said.

Local musician Nancy Spencer will join Brendan Phillips for a duet of musical saws tonight at the Siskiyou Pub. Phillips is son of the late folk singer and political activist Utah Phillips. An hour-long film of Utah's performances will be screened in addition to the performance. Show time is at 7 p.m., and the performance is free to the public — as are all of the week's events — thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Oregon Council for the Humanities.

On Thursday, Citizens for Peace and Justice will hold a screening of the anti-war documentary "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning us to Death," at the Medford Congregational United Church of Christ. The film is scheduled to start at 7 p.m., followed by a discussion on independent media's role in the peace movement.

The week culminates with a public discussion Friday on the impact of independent media in society. Titled Socio-Economics of Media Culture, the discussion will feature a panel that includes local political activists Carol Voisin and Jeff Golden. Peter Phillips, associate professor at Sonoma State University and director of the nonprofit organization Project Censored, will also share his thoughts. The discussion is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. in Southern Oregon University's Meese Auditorium.

This is the fifth year Ashland will host an Independent Media Week. The event began in 2005, with local media activists lobbying to add the popular syndicated radio show Democracy Now! to Ashland's radio waves. The event led to the launching of KSKQ.

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