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Independent Media Center

The Independent Media Center, also called Indymedia or IMC, is a collective of media organizations and journalists. It was started in late November, 1999, to cover the protests of the anti-globalization movement against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, Washington. By 2002, there were 89 local IMCs around the world spread between 31 countries plus the West Bank and 6 continents. The country with the most IMCs is the United States with 39, followed by Canada with 11. See also the list of IMCs.

IMCs produce print, audio, and video journalism, but they are most famous for their open publishing newswires: internet blog sites where anybody with internet access can publish information. Between 1999 and 2001, they were focused almost exclusively on up-to-the-minute coverage of summits where anti-globalization movement protests were occurring. As they expanded, though, they have added more news and analysis, with a strong anti-corporate and leftist bias. Their coverage is often unique: for example, during the economic/political crises in Argentina in 2001 and 2002, many of the groups which helped in opposing the government used the IMC as a place to publish information regarding their activities and pictures from the protests.

The IMCs' newswires have gotten them into some trouble. In early May 2003, after receiving numerous complaints about newswire stories that referred to Israeli Jews as "Zionazis", Google decided to stop including the IMCs in Google News searches. This spawned a PetitionOnline petition, which has probably amassed as many bogus signatures as real ones, and promises that content the Indymedia community finds offensive will be removed in the future. The IMCs are still included in normal Google searches, however.


Local IMC collectives are expected to be open and inclusive of a variety of different local left-wing activist organizations, so that even those without internet access can participate both in content creation and in content consumption.

The structure is non-hierarchical in terms of political power relationships, though there do exist de facto hierarchies, due either to control over physical resources (i.e. servers), access to funding, the fact that certain "global" functions are needed, or simply because it makes sense to coordinate within geographically close regions, without any formal link to geographical borders. However, the existence of numerous redundant communication channels (such as publicly archived mailing lists [1], wiki pages and local face-to-face meetings) make it difficult for those at the top of these limited hierarchies to have much coercive power.

All Indymedia collectives are expected to have a locally chosen, but thoroughly discussed, editorial policy for determining features for the center column of the local site. They also have to find ways of dealing with deliberate vandalism.

The Indymedia community's preference for non-hierarchical organization have caused conflicts over the involvement of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (now generally considered to be associated with Yasser Arafat's Fateh movement) in the Palestine IMC, because they brought with them an authoritarian organizational style and a requirement that all members adhere to a Marxist line.

Role among International Media Networks

Indymedia is sometimes considered by its fans to be a competitor to the large international media networks, such as CNN, News Corporation, ABC-USA or the BBC. However, it would be more accurate to say that Indymedia is an example of an open publishing news network/community of particular interest to left-wing anti-globalization activists, though a small number of right-wing, libertarian activists also participate. Because of its open organizing structure and its internal rules that no Indymedia center can become a commercial or for-profit organization, it is unlikely that it can be bought in a take-over bid.

Independence from Governments

In September 2002, the Ford Foundation, proposed funding for an Indymedia regional meeting. This was refused because many volunteers, especially those from IMC Argentina, were uncomfortable with accepting money from the Foundation, which they believe to be linked to the CIA.

Some IMCs in Europe have faced legal action or threats of legal action related to questions of libel or hate speech. They took local, autonomous decisions to temporarily suspend the site while the different activist groups reorganized to find a consensual, constructive method of dealing with these problems and to increase openness and non-authoritarian organizing methods.


While Indymedia has a good reputation amongst its target audience, this reputation is not universal. Its critics often claim that since anyone can publish with little to no editorial process, opinions and conspiracy theories often are published as fact, along with inaccurate (sometimes wildly so) and anti-Semitic articles. A response to these critics is the fact that Indymedia is similar to other open projects like Wikipedia, and shares both their vulnerability to vandalism/sabotage and many of their methods of responding, with the additional element of being strongly rooted in local left-wing groups who can take autonomous, transparent action against what they see as sabotage, though not necessarily the same things its critics take issue with.

See also: Wikipedia:Guide for Indymedia authors, List of IMCs

External links