Films For Action

Tim Hjersted is a co-founder and the director of Films For Action, a Kansas not-for-profit that uses the power of film to raise awareness of important social, environmental, and media related issues not covered by the mainstream news. Through the group’s website, public film screenings and Lending Library, the project works to provide citizens with the information they need to take an active role in creating a more just, sustainable, and democratic society.

Films For Action – What We Believe

We believe a healthy, independent media is essential to a healthy democracy. It is essential to solving nearly every social and environmental problem groups like us and thousands of others are working to solve.

Whether you care the most about addressing corporate harm, government corruption, peak oil, environmental collapse, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bank bailouts, or anything else – addressing the problem of the media has got to be our second most important priority. Why? Because a healthy society cannot exist without the active participation of its citizens, and we cannot participate in positive ways if we are not properly informed.

This was the original function of the media – to provide a free and open “marketplace of ideas.” The media existed for the public good, and today’s media system no longer serves the public. The media system fails us in almost every way, remaining one of the greatest bottlenecks impeding the efforts we take to create solutions and build a more sustainable world.

Every day, more people realize this. Over the years, the Mainstream News has become increasingly sensationalized, watered down, slanted for profit, censored, filtered, and now finally, and most fatally – irrelevant – as the crisis within the news industry is now showing.

Yet despite the news industry’s crisis of identity and waning support from the public, the dominant news institutions of our day still have a tremendous influence over public policy and debate. They select the stories that get told and the ones that don’t. They help shape the way we see the world and how we live in it. This would be fine if our media represented the full spectrum of voices, ideas, and perspectives that exist in society, but it doesn’t.

Currently, six multi-national corporations dominate 90% of the media that we read, see, and hear. ABC, FOX, CBS, NBC, CNN and most if not all of the channels on cable television are owned by parent companies: Disney, News Corporation, General Electric, Westinghouse, Time Warner and Viacom. These six multinationals also hold ownership shares in dozens of other media properties (creating financial relationships that often pose significant conflicts of interest. For example, NBC is owned by General Electric, which is a major defense contractor that profits millions from the United State’s wars abroad).

With media this concentrated and this entrenched in their own interests, the idea that the media should serve the public’s interest and act as a watchdog for corporate and government abuse seems like a bad joke. People don’t even act surprised anymore. If it wasn’t for the Daily Show, examples of the mainstream media failing to do it’s job would have stopped being funny a long time ago.

But as the IndyMedia saying goes, “Don’t just complain about the media. Be the media.” And that’s exactly what we’re all about.

By creating our own communication channels and building upon the increasingly diverse network of independent news sources that are growing on the internet, we can break the bottleneck they have on the flow of information and cut right to the root of the problem.

A diverse, independent media is the key that opens the box of keys. With a robust, diverse, and independent media, we’ll be able to launch more ambitious campaigns and win them more effectively. We’ll be able to organize our community’s latent collective energies into a powerful movement for social and environmental justice. And we’ll finally see the tipping point where our energies spark a creative and widespread renaissance of sustainable innovation, new thinking, and new ways of life. At its essence, we’ll be able to make real change happen for ourselves and for the earth.

It all starts with an independent media.


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