Launching of the Centre for Media Alternatives - Quebec
in collaboration with Réseau de solidarité des médias alternatifs québécois (Altermédia), Radio Basse-Ville (Quebec), the National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA), Radio McGill CKUT – 90,3 FM, Indymedia – Quebec and La Bande Vidéo.
From April 20th to 22nd 2001, Quebec City was host of 34 heads of state for the Summit of the Americas, in the process of creating the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). In the wake of agrowing international movement for global justice, Quebec City was the scene of a multitude of activities and events aimed at demonstrate the popular opposition to negotiation process of the FTAA, and to the FTAA itself. All these activities were widely covered by mainstream media.
However, in Quebec as elsewhere, the mega fusions and concentration in the media industry threaten the diversity of information and plurality of views. This convergence of media is characterized by increasing control of the rare information available. It is within this context that Alternatives and its partners have established the Centre for Media Alternatives - Quebec 2001 (CMAQ).
As a group of alternative media in Quebec, CMAQ is designed to encourage the effective exercise of democracy by allowing the Quebec and international population an access to alternative information on the FTAA, globalization, popular mobilization, the struggles for social justice as well as criticism of the current system. More specifically, CMAQ is designed to:
- feed the independent, alternative, students media (first) and the mass media (then) for information on the FTAA, globalization and popular mobilization;
- provide a plurality of views and the democratization of economic life;
- provide a framework for analysis and action by which citizens will see the links between impacts of free trade in the South and North and will be able to position themselves;
- allow journalists and independent researchers to exchange and disseminate materials on alternative themes already mentioned;
- foster debate and citizen participation;
- allow Canadian and international population access to information on alternative activities organized around Quebec in 2001.
This project allowed the dissemination of information on the FTAA, free trade and globalization at the Summit of the Americas that was held in Quebec City in April 2001. The website (http://www.cmaq.net/), put online in October 2000, is still active to this date and publishes the contents of many alternative media in Quebec. It also constitutes a forum for exchanges and debates that solicit citizen participation and offers a perspective that differs from the mass media.
Alternatives and its partners have held several events in order to promote this alternative information platform. On January 25th, the public launch took place at L’Autre Caserne, in Quebec, and was attended by over 250 people. On February 1st, more than 300 people attended the public launch in Montreal, at the Petit Campus. At both events, a video interview with Noam Chomsky was presented. The author Normand Baillargeon and film direct Malcolm Guy also spoke at Montreal event. In both cases, the evening ended with artistic performances offered by Zuruba, Landriault, Norman Nawroski of Rhythm Activism, the Amères Noël, Bernard Grondin, Sylvie Nicolas, Ernst Caze and La Bande Vidéo’ productions.
Training workshops were held in February and March 2001. They were intended to improve journalistic skills (webcasting, editing, computer graphics, journalistic writing, radio animation, photography) for those wishing to join CMAQ’s team during the Summit of the Americas.
Finally, a meeting of alternative media gathering independent journalists in Quebec, the rest of Canada and the United States was held on March 24th and 25th in Quebec City. The Convergence des médias indépendants aimed to bring together the different independant presses (student, community, etc.) that were present from April 15th to 24th to cover the Summit of the Americas.