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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Democracy & Independence: Sharing News & Politics in a Connected

Hundreds of traditional and citizen journalists, political strategists, educators, bloggers, developers, technology and media researchers will convene June 29-July 1, 2006 at University of Massachusetts Amherst for the first Media Giraffe Project conference.

The Media Giraffe Project, a non-partisan, interdisciplinary research effort of the UMass journalism program, is hosting the roundtable summit and how-to sessions designed to:

* Consider and recommend answers to changes to the financing and
practice of journalism

* Bridge the gap between new and traditional media

* Show and consider the impact of new media technologies on journalism and the "public sphere"

* Spotlight emerging business models

* Create new networks of media innovators which bridge traditional carriers among journalism, education, politics and technology

* Watch and share innovations in media-literacy education.

Constituencies from mainstream and alternative media rarely meet together. Yet new technologies are currently upending and interweaving the practice of journalism, politics and teaching.

Journalists see an erosion of traditional revenue sources which supported - and were supported by - their work. It´s not clear what will sustain traditional "watchdog" journalism, or how it will co-exist, or merge, with so-called "citizen journalism." There's an atmosphere of anticipation and intense experimentation.

"Democracy and Independence" - the first Media Giraffe Project summit and conference - is the crossover meeting place for leading thinkers on the impact of Internet technology on journalism, media, education and politics - and the place to celebrate "above-the-crowd" innovation. Major sponsors besides the University of Massachusetts
include Omidyar Network and The Boston Globe.

To accommodate attendees from citizen journalism, media, politics, education and technology, a five-track event is scheduled, starting with a limited-enrollment roundtable summit, followed by a four-track conference.

Individuals working in politics, at large media, cutting-edge information technology organizations, citizen-powered local-news web services, or in teaching and academia share a goal of fostering participatory democracy and community. "Democracy and Independence: Sharing of News in a Connected World" will bring them together to share what's working now and what's coming soon.

This first gathering of The Media Giraffe Project will observe changes in the structure of the U.S. media industry, the impact of the Internet on its financing, including copyright, the new relationships among creators and consumers of news, and how democracy is affected.

The event will be a chance to meet and learn from profiled Media Giraffe pioneers. "Media Giraffe Institute: Lessons from the Frontlines" will present case-studies of emerging local web-based news and community efforts in a "how-to" format designed to teach citizens and mainstream journalists field-tested approaches for two-way, participatory journalism.

There will be panels, discussions, demonstrations and workshops on specific projects underway nationwide which use media in innovative, sustainable ways to foster participatory democracy and community.

The conference is designed for:

* traditional media strategists, editors and practitioners

* elected officials, political and public-policy strategists info-tech pioneers and entrepreneurs

* operators of local-news websites and blogs podcasters and vloggers dealing with news, political and public-policy issues.

* academic researchers and students

* citizens who want "how-to" knowledge about participatory media anyone interested in new innovations in web, print, film and audio news creation, delivery and financing.

The event kicks off the Independence Day weekend, and we plan to package a variety of opportunities for post-conference touring of New England for attendees who wish to linger through July 4. The Five Colleges area of Massachusetts offers a remarkable combination of sophisticated, urban amenities amid rural beauty and is less than two
hours from Boston. Access is via the Bradley International Airport (BDL), Providence or Boston.


Media Giraffe Project, 108 Bartlett Hall, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst MA 01003, 413-577-4370, mediagiraffe -at-


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