Disappearing Ink: Why No Coverage of the Demonstrations?

CNN this morning reported that grass-roots groups are organizing demonstrations across the country against what they’re calling the Bush administration’s “cash for trash” bailout plan.

According to today’s Boston Globe, yesterday there were demonstrations on Boston Common, at the N.Y. Stock Exchange, and in front of the White House:

A coalition of groups calling itself the Main Street Coalition marched from the Treasury Department down Pennsylvania Avenue, chanting “No deal for Wall Street, New Deal for Main Street” and handing out copies of a “Taxpayer Invoice” for $700 billion.

Hooray for CNN and the Globe.

They’re among a handful of mainstream U.S. news outlets that even mentioned the grass-roots organizing around anger at the selective nature of Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson’s bailout plan.

AFP has taken note of the protests, and reported today on a petition organized by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, signed by more than 32,600 people, and delivered to Paulson today decrying executives’ golden parachutes and demanding safeguards for ordinary people.

Note, however, that AFP’s a French news agency — Agence France Presse.

The Taiwanese, the Australians, and other outlets in the international press are also taking note of the rising popular sentiment in the States calling for equity for ordinary citizens harmed by the subprime mortgage meltdown and guarantees that working people — and their great-grandchildren — won’t be saddled with the cost of rescuing investment banks.

Back at home, though, it’s hard to gauge the size or number of protests around the country, because mainstream U.S. media are rendering them invisible. But independent news Web sites and blogs today reported that more than 250 separate groups were scheduled to take to the streets in 41 states yesterday.

According to Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, indy journalist Arun Gupta provided the impetus for the Wall Street march with an email to friends that quickly went viral.
Author Naomi Klein picked up Gupta’s email and posted it on her Web site.

The Globe piece does a good job of reflecting the power of the Internet as a grass-roots organizing tool, and its intersection with feet- on-the-ground gatherings to demand equitable reform:

The movement took shape over the weekend after Truemajority.org urged its 700,000 members and partner organizations to contact members of Congress. When it became clear that many members wanted to do more, the group started to recruit volunteers to hold “emergency rallies,” said Matt Holland of Truemajority.org.

The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, a Boston homeownership group, held its own protest in Washington with about 150 people in the offices of two Senate leaders yesterday, said Bruce Marks, the group’s chief executive. The group opposes the bailout, instead advocating a plan to stop foreclosures against homeowners and a freeze on rising mortgage rates.

John Atlas has been blogging here at Rooflines on community organizing and the financial implosion.

I’m sure John would agree with me on two things: First, that Rooflines and other independent voices have got to keep speaking out about what’s real and what is not, to hold mainstream media to the truth test. And second, that we should feel encouraged by how well the Web can work to call our fellow citizens to action.

Alice Chasan served as editor and associate publisher of Shelterforce from 2007 to 2008.


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