BACME January/February

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President’s Address

Happy new year to all! What a fabulous and productive fall for ACME. Three free new multimedia education resources for our members, national Summit planning underway, our new Orwell Project, an ongoing successful e-membership drive, and the launch of our newest ACMEBoston chapter!

And, after more than a year of discussion with four different IRS representatives, ACME is now an independent 501c3, so all of your donations are tax-deductible. (Special thanks to ACME Vice-President Bob McCannon for his perseverance in making this happen.)

We wish you a peaceful and restful start to your new year, and extend an invitation to join us for our October 6-8, 2006 continental Summit in Burlington, Vermont. It promises to be THE media education conference of next year!

ACME Board president Dr. Rob Williams

ACME Summit

Planning continues apace for our ACME 2006 Continental Summit. It promises to be an exciting event! Remember to mark your calendars for October 6-8, 2006 in Burlington, Vermont for "Facing The Crisis." Come be a part of the solution! Read about the upcoming summit at

Fall Membership Drive

A humble and hearty THANK YOU(!) to the close to 100 individuals and organizations who (re)joined the Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME at during our second annual fall e-membership drive! Your support will allow us to grow and thrive into 2006, and continue to bring you the very best in independent networking, media education resources, discounts, and, of course, summit gatherings.

Special thanks to our generous ACME coalition members/partners who donated fabulous resources for this fall's membership drive: former NMMLP executive director and ACME co-founder Bob McCannon, Free Press's Robert McChesney (, the Media Education Foundation (, and the New Mexico Media Literacy Project (

Chapter News


ACMEBoston is pleased to announce the new Greater Boston Chapter of the Action Coalition for Media Education, online at

ACMEBoston is a grassroots coalition of media educators, students, independent media makers, media and telecom policy reform advocates, and concerned citizens working to Create, Educate, and Mobilize for media and social change.

ACMEBoston brings ACME's unique approach to media education to Greater Boston involving people of all ages, from all backgrounds in linking media education with civic activism and engagement.

ACMEBoston provides an all-inclusive approach to media literacy education, independent media making, and activism that embraces racial, economic, and gender justice. ACMEBoston also highlights and supports individuals and organizations in the Greater Boston area working to achieve a more just, equitable, and representative media system and society for the 21st century.

ACMEBoston's three step approach:

1. CREATE - Using and sharing media production tools, skills, and knowledge to promote self-expression, artistic creation, and social change.

2. EDUCATE - Building a critical media literacy framework that questions, challenges, and creates alternatives to corporate media images and messages.

3. MOBILIZE - Public mobilization through civic engagement to create a more just, equitable, and representative media system and society.

Because having the ability to


ACMEBoston is working to put power back in the hands of people for real media and social change.

Visit the new ACME Local Chapter ACMEBoston @

Advisory Board Update

Whenever I lecture on alcohol advertising, someone always suggests that the reason American kids drink so much is because of the drinking age. If it were lower, our teens would be drinking "responsibly" like their European counterparts. The major problem with this argument is that European teens actually drink more. At last, there is a report that proves this. "Youth Drinking Rates and Problems: A Comparison of European Countries and the United States" is available from the U.S. Department of Justice (

Jean Kilbourne ( is the author of "Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel" and the creator of several films, including the award-winning "Killing Us Softly" series.

Jean is a part of a special edition of Nick News with Linda Ellerbee called Ten Things Wrong with TV. It premiered Sunday, December 18th, at 8:30PM (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon.

ACME Action Groups

Media and Education Action Group

We've offered three timely and exciting FREE resources to our membership and the world this fall: the Project Censored classroom tool kit (September); the FOOD FOR THOUGHT tool kit (October); and our study guide to accompany EVC's student-produced documentary "All That I Can Be." We are now turning our attention to organizing our national Summit for October 2006. We will be inviting proposals that combine the best media education pedagogy with a commitment to civic activism and community involvement. Look for our Request for Proposals at the ACME web site in January!

Media and Health Action Group

Back by popular demand, we are working on offering our "Tackling the Beer Barons" classroom curricula in time for Super Bowl Sunday 2006. This will be our third year offering this very popular (and FREE) set of classroom activities exploring how the alcohol industry uses the Super Bowl to target American children. We'll follow this up with our "Smoking Out Big Tobacco" student-mad video contest to celebrate "World No-Tobacco Day" during May 2006. Contest winners will have their films featured at the October 2006 ACME national Summit in Burlington, Vermont!

Media Reform Action Group

Media reform is about awareness and taking action. Therefore, I want to make ACME members aware of some resources that will motivate you to TAKE ACTION! Below you will find: information highlighting the Media Giraffe Project and Media Minutes. Two excellent resources for media reform activists. Additionally, you will find a link to the media policy in Washington page at the Free Press website. This link will provide you with comprehensive information on pending media legislation in Congress.

Finally, I have provided you with information and the link for the S.O.S. — Save Our Spectrum, activist effort that is being initiated by Free Press. Please TAKE ACTION!!!

Highlighting the Media Giraffe Project

The Media Giraffe Project is finding and spotlighting individuals making innovative, sustainable use of media (old and new) to foster participatory democracy and community. Our three-year, three-phase effort involves research, communication, and education via our website, a book and a documentary film. The Media Giraffe Project is a non-partisan, non-profit research effort of the journalism program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. For a summary of the MGP mission, see:

You can help is scout out potential media giraffes. First you need to know what we're looking for:

If you think you've spotting one, contact us through our website at

Content extracted from Media Giraffe Project email

Listen to the latest media news every Friday

Media Minutes is a weekly, headline-style radio news program focused on issues of media policy and reform. Media Minutes tracks the latest industry developments, keeps an eye on Washington policy-makers, and talks to the experts and activists dedicated to media reform.

Recent programs have covered corporate attacks on community Internet, the dissemination of government propaganda via mainstream media, and the threat of spectrum speculation to the growth of local radio stations. Previous interview guests include law professor Lawrence Lessig, TV talk pioneer Phil Donahue, and journalist Glen Ford.

Listen to Media Minutes at

Content for Media Minutes was extracted from the Free Press website

Media Policy Update

Learn about what is going on related to media policy in Washington at

S.O.S. — Save Our Spectrum

Congress is squandering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring universal, affordable Internet access to all Americans.

As part of the digital television (DTV) transition, a prized portion of the public airwaves is being returned to the government. Congress intends to sell the exclusive "license" to this spectrum to the highest bidder among the big telecommunications companies.

Instead of striking such a short-sighted deal, Congress could open up the airwaves as "unlicensed spectrum" that everyone would be free to access for high-speed, wireless broadband services. Either by setting aside a portion of the newly available spectrum or by reallocating unused portions of the broadcast bands called "white spaces," Congress could enhance public safety, spur technological innovation and bridge the digital divide.

Send an S.O.S. to Congress. Call your senators and representatives today and ask them to save our spectrum — before it's too late.

Content for S.O.S – Save Our Spectrum was extracted from the Free Press website

Media Education Must Haves

Based on the forthcoming book by Pepi Leistyna, Class Dismissed navigates the steady stream of narrow working class representations from American television's beginnings to today's sitcoms, reality shows, police dramas, and daytime talk shows.

Featuring interviews with media analysts and cultural historians, this documentary examines the patterns inherent in TV's disturbing depictions of working class people as either clowns or social deviants -- stereotypical portrayals that reinforce the myth of meritocracy.

Class Dismissed breaks important new ground in exploring the ways in which race, gender, and sexuality intersect with class, offering a more complex reading of television's often one-dimensional representations. The video also links television portrayals to negative cultural attitudes and public policies that directly affect the lives of working class people.

Featuring interviews with Stanley Aronowitz, (City University of New York); Nickle and Dimed author, Barbara Ehrenreich; Herman Gray (University of California-Santa Cruz); Robin Kelley (Columbia University); Pepi Leistyna (University of Massachusetts-Boston) and Michael Zweig (State University of New York-Stony Brook). Also with Arlene Davila, Susan Douglas, Bambi Haggins, Lisa Henderson, and Andrea Press.

Movie Review

Adaptive Magic: Multiplexing Harry Potter and Narnia
by Rob Williams

I always approach film versions of wildly popular children’s stories with trepidation. Will the filmic adaptation possibly measure up to the pictures I have in my head? The answer to this question is a decided “maybe” for two new movie blockbusters aimed at the younger set: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (built, of course, on J.K. Rowling’s best-selling books), and the first in C.S. Lewis’ seven part “Narnia” series: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

I am intimately familiar with both stories. I devoured Lewis’ writings as a kid, and now, my wife and I are having the same experience with Rowling’s wonderful wordsmithing, as parents of a six-year-old girl absolutely captivated by all things Potter (Our four-year-old son ain’t quite there yet, nor should he be). We have enjoyed repeatedly reading all six Rowling stories aloud over the past year, and English thespian Jim Dale, the remarkable narrator of all the Potter audio books, is on so often in our home that he feels like a member of our family.

And, of course, there is much to like about both stories, which are remarkably similar in many ways. Both Rowling and Lewis’ tales feature British teens dealing with psychically wrenching circumstances that would reduce the average adult to a quivering mass of jelly. (For those of you who aren’t dialed in, Harry is mysteriously orphaned at birth, and later learns that the evil Lord Voldemort murdered his parents, while “Narnia” clan members Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are separated from their immediate family during WWII’s London blitz and sent to live in a remote country estate).

In both stories, too, our children find themselves in old castles where they discover remarkable parallel universes full of magic, wonder, and fascinating creatures (from fire-breathing dragons to talking beavers and every kind of creature, ghost, and ghoulie in between) and learn that these worlds are driven by a struggle between good and evil in which each child has a central role to play. And, of course, in both stories, our children must overcome both internal obstacles and external enemies in their collective quest to deepen their understandings of their worlds, thwart the forces of evil, and develop character traits vital to success: an ethical sense of fair play, loyal bonds of friendship, and handiness with various spells and weapons.

Both Lewis and Rowling’s writings are remarkably rich, full of epic settings, descriptive detail, imaginative turns of phrase, and clever dialogue. This makes each filmmaker’s task a challenging one. Film is a remarkably impatient medium, not given to subtlety or nuance, and its relentlessly visual nature is both a strength and a weakness.

Predictably, what plays best in both films is the epic nature of the Narnian landscape and the wizarding world respectively. Thanks to the magic of digital special effects, Hogwarts and its environs, and a gradually thawing Narnia, are both breathtakingly beautiful to behold, as are the creatures that inhabit both worlds. (Even the giant wolves and warthogs that make up the White Witch’s army, or Ralph Fiennes’ Voldmort himself, possess a certain visual flair, terrifying though they may be).

More inconsistent are the filmic representations of the major characters themselves. Daniel Radcliffe makes a fine Harry, and Tilda Swinton’s White Witch brilliantly exudes the right blend of evil and charisma throughout. Emma Watson’s Hermione Granger, on the other hand, is too cute and not nearly bookish enough, while Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore is flat, one dimensional, and completely misrepresented (he yells his way through the film ? “Silence!” - while the Rowling-created Dumbledore rarely, if ever, raises his voice ? part of his magical mojo.) I know what you’re thinking ? I’m just describing MY imaginative interpretation of the characters. Not so ? anyone familiar with Rowling’s writings would agree. And what to do with, say, the voice of Aslan in your imagination when the filmic Aslan opens his mouth and sounds suspiciously like?actor Liam Neeson?

And then there is the narrative arc. Narnia director Andrew Adamson has a much easier time of it, with a much shorter story to capture. He is generally faithful to Lewis’ tale-telling, though he is drawn to battle scenes in a way that Lewis simply was not (and watching young Edmund and Peter heft their swords somewhat unconvincingly as they ride into battle against giant ogres armed to the teeth, you can see why.) Pity poor “Goblet” director Michael Newell, meanwhile, with an epic book on his hands. “Goblet of Fire’s” first several chapters set the stage for Voldemort’s corporeal return AND take us to the Quidditch World Cup, a task Newell tries to accomplish in under fifteen minutes. Suffice to say, anyone wandering into the theater not having read the books would be pretty much clueless when presented with Newell’s valiant but laughably incomplete celluloid efforts.

And maybe all of this head-scratching ? book versus film? - is a good thing. Speaking as a parent, I won’t let my daughter anywhere near the theater for either of these films, preferring instead for her to hold fast to those imaginative images in her head until she gets a bit older. I also appreciate film’s unique power to persuade, compel, and scare ? nothing but lobotomy can remove images from your head once they’re in there. (I know many parents who would challenge this decision, and, of course, they must do what they think best for their kids). if the popularity of these two films increases kids’ awareness of some of the most deftly-crafted children’s literature of our time, if a comparative conversation about the merits of book versus film deepens our collective understanding of the trade-offs of each medium, and if both books and films expand our creative imaginings about the world in which we live (and these are big “ifs”), then both our authors and our filmmakers have provided us with two huge holiday treats.

Historian, musician, and media educator Rob Williams lives in Vermont’s Mad River Valley. Read, listen to, and watch his stuff at

Call for Submissions

The 4th Annual Northeast Media Literacy Conference 2006
Rethinking Media Literacy in a Changing Youth Culture
Deadline: December 15, 2006 - Proposals will be considered after the deadline providing there is space still available and proposed topics would add to the conference theme or to the balance to the workshop programs.
Contact : Dr. Thomas B. Goodkind at or

Rethinking the Discourse on Race: A Symposium on How the Lack of Racial Diversity in the Media Affects Social Justice and Policy
Deadline: January 15, 2006
Read the call for submissions at

Seventh Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association
Deadline: January 15, 2006
Read call for submissions at

Midwest Social Forum 2006
Deadline: April 15, 2006
Read all for submissions at

Upcoming Conferences and Events

The 4th Annual Northeast Media Literacy Conference 2006
Rethinking Media Literacy in a Changing Youth Culture
March 31, 2006
Storrs, Connecticut
Contact : Dr. Thomas B. Goodkind at or

Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference
April 12-15, 2006
Atlanta, Georgia

Midwest Social Forum 2006
July 6-9, 2006
Milwaukee, WI

Seventh Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association
Prologues to Exploration
June 8–11, 2006
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

Media Giraffe Project Conference
Democracy and Independence: Sharing of News in a Connected World
June 29 - July 2, 2006
Amherst, Mass.

ACME Summit
Facing the Media Crisis: Media Education for Reform, Justice and Democracy
October 6-8, 2006
Burlington, Vermont Conference Calendar is getting ready to send out the 2006 International Media Action Calendar (via email and online)

If you have: upcoming event(s) in 2006, calls for proposals, papers or participation, a day designated for local media-activist organizing activities, news of grant deadlines, or any sort of save-the-date.

Please post it at

(click"add event/opportunity" - you'll need to register as a user first)