PWW forum underscores role of peoples media

ST. LOUIS — A standing room only crowd of trade unionists and community leaders attended the Fourth Annual Missouri/Kansas Friends of the People’s Weekly World “Working Class Media and Democracy” forum, held here Oct. 27. David Bacon, an Oakland-based photojournalist and author of “The Children of NAFTA” and “Communities Without Borders,” keynoted the event.

In her welcoming remarks, Zenobia Thompson, co-chair of the PWW’s local support committee, said, “Unlike the corporate media, the People’s Weekly World isn’t beholden to big money advertisers.”

The paper’s job, she said, waving her hand toward the crowd, “is to tell your story, your struggles — to fight for your interests.”

Bacon, perhaps best known for his reportage on immigrant rights struggles, touched on the relationship between U.S. foreign policy, migration and “what the mainstream media doesn’t say.”

“We have to get past this b.s. about reporters being neutral,” Bacon said. The corporate media, he added, told us the North American Free Trade Agreement “freed up the movement of capital and goods, that it created investment opportunities. However, what it didn’t tell us is that millions of Mexicans lost their jobs and that the standard of living decreased for workers on both sides of the border because of NAFTA.”

“Trade agreements like NAFTA displaced workers, turned them into indentured servants,” continued Bacon. “And the media calls this democracy.”

But to deal with these issues, Bacon continued, would mean that we would have to deal with the social system in which we live. And as a result, the media also “refuses to talk about the system, about capitalism, how it functions, who it benefits, and how it affects workers.”

“We need media to tell us what the alternative is,” said Bacon, adding, “How are we going to solve problems that working-class people face without an alternative to capitalism?”

Referring to media workers, Bacon pointedly observed, “We also have to remember that reporters are workers too, that their struggles are our struggles.”

Jim Wilkerson closed the forum by urging everyone to “stay strong, stay united and read the People’s Weekly World.”

Members of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, AFSCME, Unite Here, UAW, and the American Friends Service Committee attended the event. State Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford (D-Saint Louis) facilitated the discussion.

Over $3,000 was raised for the People’s Weekly World.