There will surely be an abundance of media coverage when the G-20 comes to town later this month. And with it, say members of the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center, will come a wealth of lackluster local and national news stories about the economic summit -- they just don't plan on delivering any of them.
By launching a multimedia site equipped with a live, Web-streaming radio broadcast, the alternative media outlet hopes to cover G-20 stories that the mainstream media either butcher or ignore altogether. Dubbed G-Infinity, the site will feature a combination of breaking news -- protest videos, tweets -- and more in-depth, issue-related content.
"We're trying to give a voice to the voiceless," says Phill Cresswell, a producer for the Media Center's Rustbelt Radio, a bi-weekly radio broadcast which airs on WRCT 88.3 FM. "Our main focus is to cover news that's not covered by the corporate media. We're covering news from the grassroots."
G-Infinity will stream a live radio broadcast for 48 straight hours throughout both days of the economic summit on Sept. 24 and 25. While some of the programming will be produced before the G-20, Cresswell says, much of it will be gathered "on the fly" by reporters on the ground. "Our purpose is to gather as much content as possible," he says.
But with just roughly a dozen regular contributors to the Media Center, Cresswell says they're looking for help. Some assistance he expects will come from other Independent Media Centers across the country. However, he says, "Anyone who wants to contribute can contribute."
And they can do so in a number of ways. For instance, Cresswell says the Media Center's Web site, pittsburgh.indymedia.org, will allow people to post videos and photos of protests as events in and around the summit unfold. In addition, he says, G-Infinity welcomes more in-depth submissions, like produced radio pieces about global warming and free trade, and their effects on local communities.
As an added feature, the Web site will include a mapping feature whereby the Media Center can pinpoint, say, areas of the city with the most creative protests or locations where there are reported incidents of police brutality. Reporters using phones equipped with GPS, says Cresswell, can simply tweet locations of interest to G-Infinity so that they can immediately be marked on the site's map.
For people interested in contributing to G-Infinity, Cresswell says the Media Center will rent out some equipment, like cameras and voice recorders. And if necessary, he says, members of the alternative media outlet will provide crash-course training in reporting and producing basics at its Thomas Merton Center offices, in Garfield, which will serve as G-Infinity's makeshift newsroom during the summit.
For the most part, Cresswell hopes G-Infinity's coverage can provide news to counter the mainstream media. In the weeks leading up to the economic summit, he's already been upset with how the local news media has portrayed protesters.
"They never report on why people have issues with the G-20," Cresswell says. "They just report on, 'The anarchists are trying to interrupt things!'"
During the summit, he adds, "We'll cover the falsities of other [news outlets] and report the news from an independent angle."
According to journalism professor Bill Moushey, the G-20 is as good an event as any for the alternative media to compete with the mainstream.
"When something the magnitude of the G-20 comes, there are so many limits on coverage for the mainstream media that folks like Rustbelt are the only ones able to get saturation coverage," says Moushey, who teaches at Point Park University. "The mainstream media is going to be standing around all week."
And while they are, he says, independent news outlets would be wise to hit the streets.
"That's the only way to do it," Moushey says. "Give it the ol' college try and see if you get lucky."
Whether they will is yet to be determined. But no matter what, Cresswell says, covering the 48-hour summit will undoubtedly be hectic for G-Infinity contributors.
"It's gonna be pretty crazy," he says. "I don't know how much sleep we're gonna get."
For those interested in contributing to G-Infinity, contact the Media Center at [email protected].