"Publicizing Truths with Consequence"

Independent Media Strategy Summit Design


Please carefully read this summit's special Design features and processes described within the schedule and at the end of this page. 

This is going to be a highly collaborative weekend and understanding the design before you come will make it far more productive and enjoyable.


- The strategy summit organizing committee is deeply indebted to the Institute of the Commons' Marc Tognotti and Kenoli Oleari who brought decades of

participative group process experience to critical aspects of the conference design leading up to and including the Goal Setting and Action Planning phases.





Description / Process

Detail / Notes






Staff/Student/Volunteer orientation



Explanation & discussion of conference  processes and logistics


Be the Media workshops

·          Investigative Reporting

·          Exploiting New Technologies

·          Community/Regional Network Building


Introductory workshops for students, aspiring journalists, et al.

Session resource people include media students, Dave Mathison, Mickey Huff, Elizabeth de la Vega, Barbara Trent, Janice Matthews, et al.


Registration;  affinity group creation








Remedial Attention Engineering 101 - Countering MSM Censorship of History, Issues, and Candidates

Resource Team: Brad Friedman, Elizabeth Kucinich, Barbara Trent,  Elizabeth de la Vega

Briefing discussion of this Summit's political backdrop, current media dynamics, and tactics to publicize countercoup views and voices





7:00 - 7:20

Introductory Conference Framing -  goals & process orientation

Peter Phillips, Kenoli Oleari, Marc Tognotti



Affinity group meetups


·          Getting acquainted and sharing info on each other's origins, skills, concerns, hopes for gathering

·          Discussing how they can work together to contribute to the conference. and their collective experience

o         Discussion of necessary roles (see right)

·          Discussion of conference goals, meta-themes (master narratives), media synergy, how to keep their group apprised of activities in all three theme tracks


Consistent and/or rotating roles:

·          Discussion leader.

·          Recorder.

·          Time-keeper.

·          Wall-person.

·          Breakout Session Reporters






Entertainment & cash bar

Khalil Bendib comic presentation and music








Opening plenary


Welcome and Statement of Purpose - 15 min

Peter Phillips, David Kubiak


What does our democracy need to hear and see?

- In Search of Some Big Picture/Deep Structure Consensus on the Basic Threat(s) We Face, Our Potential Media Power, and Credible Political Goals

Kristina Borjesson, David Cobb, David Ray Griffin, David Lindorff, Peter Dale Scott, Cindy Sheehan...

What can independent media achieve this year if it tries?

- Assessing our current growth, strength and potential as a transformative political force

Jason McKain, Danny Schechter, Barbara Trent, Toni Whiteman

What we can start to do right now

- Explaining the structure, theme division and goals of summit format - and how to extract the most juice from this event

Kenoli Oleari, Marc Tognotti


·          I: What citizens need to hear and know to preserve our democracy

·          II: What independent media can do

·          III: Short intro to conference process



Affinity groups: 1st huddle


·          Choose group roles* (see right)

·          Discuss reactions to the morning session.

·          Identify meta-narratives and goals to place on walls.

·          Deploy for PM breakouts (assign reporter(s) to each session).

·          Start posting items on walls.

*Group roles:

·          Discussion leader.

·          Recorder.

·          Time-keeper.

·          Wall-person.

·          Theme Session Reporters






Theme Breakout Sessions

- Overview -


Design: Each session will consist of very brief (2-3 min.) resource team self intros - who they are, what they've studied, and their areas of concern; 15-20 min group interaction deciding how to best use them to achieve the session's goals; 30 min discussion; 10 min group interaction prioritizing summary Q&A; and 20 min responses.



1) narrative/Messaging theme

- How and what we need to communicate

Challenge: Discovering in 2008 America the story lines, language and memetic synergy that would reveal the deepest reality, promote the most effective activism, and give the greatest hope


2) news Source development theme

- What we need to know and share

Challenge: Rebuilding the power of investigative journalism, supporting whistleblowers, and creating a comprehensive influential source of trenchant non-corporate news


3) networking/technology theme

- What we need to deliver the goods

Challenge: Designing/exploiting new media tech, alliances and networks to distribute news further, faster, cheaper with far more political impact



Three breakout tracks

- Messaging and Master Narratives

- Empowering Investigative Reporting, Whistleblowers & News Source Creation

- Networking Technologies and Alliances


To reiterate design issue: panel members are NOT "speakers" but resource people for the group to gratefully exploit, and other members of the session group may be called upon as well......




Theme Breakout Sessions 1



narrative/Messaging Session I - Understanding the current zeitgeist, propaganda models, and public mind

Resource Team: David Altheide, Dennis Bernstein, Kristina Borjesson, Marc Pilisuk  



Resource Team lists are still fluid and partial...

news Source development Session I - Maximizing the clout of whistleblowers and investigative reporting

Resource Team: Charlotte Dennett, Brad Friedman, Ray McGovern, Colleen Rowley,


networking/technology Session I - Marrying the best network tech and distribution models out there

Resource Team: John Perry Barlow, Lauren Elliott, Carolyn Goosen, David Mathison, Jason McKain,




Theme Breakout Sessions 2


narrative/Messaging Session II - Identifying common themes underlying diverse crises

Resource Team: David Cobb, Gerard Colby, Frank Dorrell, Bonnie Faulkner, Robert Fitrakis, Michael Nagler



Resource Team lists are still fluid and partial...

news Source development Session II - Designing collaborative platforms for non-corporate news and analysis

Resource Team: Lenny Charles, Janice Matthews, Mickey Huff, Peter Phillips,


networking/technology Session II - Evolving into and supplanting the mainstream

Resource Team: Russ Baker, Dennis Bernstein, Jalal Ghazi, John Scott,


Affinity Groups 2nd Huddle


·          Choose group roles* (see right)

·          3-minute report-backs on earlier theme breakouts.

·          Discussion

·          Identify items to post on Narrative and Goals walls.

·          Deploy for Sun. breakouts (assign reporter(s) to each session).

·          Post items on walls.

*Group roles:

·          Discussion leader.

·          Recorder.

·          Time-keeper.

·          Wall-person.

·          Breakout Session Reporters



Entertainment & cash bar

Flash Points Poetry Slam hosted by Dennis Bernstein


Includes open mike segment

- All social message poets welcome...







Theme Breakouts Sessions 3


narrative/Messaging Session III - Framing dangerous news and investigative findings in ways that motivate

Resource Team: Khalil Bendib, Bruce Budner, Mike Ferner, Cynthia McKinney, Aldo Vidali,



Resource Team lists are still fluid and partial...

news Source development Session III -  Launching collaborative platforms for non-corporate news and analysis

Resource Team: Kristina Borjesson, Bill Densmore, Bryan Sacks, Lenny Charles


networking/technology theme Session III - Session III - Turning revealing info into action on the ground

Resource Team: Richard Becker, Sarah Ruth van Gelder, Richard Greene, Barbara Trent,



Affinity groups 3rd Huddle


·          Choose group roles* (see right)

·          3-minute report-backs on earlier theme breakouts.

·          Discussion

·          Identify items to post on the Narrative and Goal walls.

·          Set time(s) and place(s) for next meeting(s).

·          Post items on walls




- working lunch for 2 teams:


Goal-Sorting Team


Narrative Team

·          Goal-sorting team fine-tunes arrangement of Goals into clusters in prep for Reality Dialogue

·          Narrative team prepares interim “report” on the Meta-narrative wall that organizes and consolidates posted material. This is a factual account/summary, not an interpretation or prioritization, and should refer to all material posted.




Goal-sorting team includes appropriate volunteers and planning team members.


Meta-narrative team of appropriate volunteers selected by planning team


Reality Dialogue

·          Entire group gathers at the “Goals” wall.

·          Posted Goal clusters are read and group discusses whether groupings are correct and adequately named.

·          Adjustments are made.

·          Once this is done, the group is asked if everyone can live with each of the respective Goals.

·          Goals not accepted with near unanimity are moved to a “Not Generally Agreed Upon” section of the wall.

·          There is no discussion, except to clarify any goal not understood -- which is done by asking the person or group that posted up to explain what it means. 

·          There is no other discussion than this.

·          New goals can be added and similarly processed.



·          Clarifying that this is not a decision-making process; it is simply a way to see where this group is right now. 

·          It is a snapshot of the current reality.

·          It is acknowledged that this may change and there may be much more discussion needed on many items and that this can certainly take place at other places or times.


Primary objective: Make a list of goals which we can say this group supports with unanimity at this time.


Narrative Team Report

·          The narrative team presents their report on contents of the Meta-narratives wall and briefly discusses the consolidation process to create an outline for a Port Huron-like manifesto from the conference to inspire and engage the wider independent media community.


Re Summit Manifesto

- Actual creation of this statement may be undertaken by a team arising during subsequent Action Planning phase.


Action Planning

·          Room locations are assigned for discussion of each of the “Generally Agreed Upon” Goal clusters.

·          People self-select and go to those locations.

·          People wanting to work on a “Not Generally Agreed Upon” goal may do so if they choose.

·          Each Action Planning group assigns one person to each group role (same 4 roles as in Affinity groups).

·          Each group identifies one or more actions they are willing to take to achieve the given goal.

·          If appropriate they can break into subgroups for each specific action, or they work together throughout.

·          Next, they follow the action-planning guidelines** (see right column) and report back to the entire group in plenary format as described below.

*Planning guidelines:

·          Identify long-range goal: what is it that we want to accomplish.

·          Identify several shorter-term milestones that will indicate progress towards this goal and estimate when these might be accomplished.

·          Identify other resources (people, groups, technical, material, $$) from within the larger group or elsewhere that are needed to achieve this goal.

·          Suggest ideas for contacting or accessing these resources.

·          Identify first steps as well as who will do these things and by when.

·          Create a brief directory of action team names and their contact info.

·          Choose a group contact person and means of group communication.

·          Set up a method for collaboration, like a web forum, mailing list, etc.

·          Set a time and place for a follow-up meeting.


Action team report-backs to plenary with feedback

·          2 min report backs including requests for specific types of help from others present.

·          Feedback from the large group for each team.



Action teams meet again

·          Some groups will meet alone.

·          Some groups might join up with other groups they need to network or collaborate with.



Sustaining outcomes

·          Planning team describes any methods available, follow-up meetings or tools in place for networking or keeping in touch following the conference.

For example:

·          Minneapolis conference

·          Web based networking

·          Newsletter

·          List-serve

·          Future search

·          Other follow-up meetings

·          Other



·          Everyone gets a chance to say something.

·          Depending on time these comments may be open-ended or limited to just 4 or 5 words that represent where participants feel they are right now.



Important Conference Features


Affinity Groups

Unlike most conferences which are largely podium or panel powered, the driving force and creative core of this gathering are the 8~9 member "affinity groups" to which ALL conference participants will be assigned during registration.


Affinity Group Purpose:

·          Serve as the primary brainstorming nexus for the conference.

·          Share and synthesize information from various theme breakout sessions since everyone can’t attend every session.

·          Build collaborative working relationships.

·          Generate ideas for posting on the “Meta-narrative” and “Goals” walls (see Posting Walls below).

·          Be constructive and creative, and make sure everyone is heard.


Affinity Group Process:

·          Meet formally 4 times during the weekend (and informally as desired):

o         Friday evening (7:00-8:00 PM)

o         Saturday morning (11:00-12:00 PM)

o         Saturday afternoon (4:30-5:30 PM)

o         Sunday (10:45- 11:30 AM)

·          Assign roles each time they meet, changing people as appropriate in the roles each time:

o         Assign a note-taker / reporter to every breakout session to give 3-minute report-back to the group afterwards

o         Select a discussion leader, timekeeper, recorder, and wall-person for each affinity group meeting,.

·          Affinity group tasks:

o         Share 3-minute report-backs from each breakout session

o         Discuss report backs

o         Identify and list ideas for (1) meta-narratives and/or (2) high-level group goals, and post them to the walls.

o         On Sunday morning just before action planning, all affinity groups will review proposed goals together.

·          Affinity group agreements:

o         Be efficient.

o         Keep meetings congenial and have fun.

o         Be supportive of each other.

o         Follow through on agreements.


Group roles (detail):

·          Discussion leader - Makes sure everyone gets to talk.

·          Recorder - Summarizes everything everyone says on flip charts.

·          Time-keeper - Keeps the group aware of the time or serves the group in other timekeeping assignments.

·          Reporter - Prepares group requested reports.

·          Wall-person - Records/posts things the group wants placed on “Meta-narrative” and “Goals” walls (one posting per item)



Two centrally-located “posting walls” for collecting, displaying and organizing the following material generated by the affinity groups:

·          Meta-Narratives (to deepen, coordinate and harmonize messaging)

o         Themes, memes, stories that reveal the common denominators and interrelationships beneath and between the diverse issues attendees (and single issue groups) are concerned with

o         Material posted to the Meta-Narratives wall will be sorted and reviewed by the group for consolidation into a Port Huron-like vision statement to encourage deeper, more synergistic messaging in the independent media community as a whole.

·          Goals

o         Larger, overarching collaborative goals that participants would like to see this group accomplish as well as suggested actions and required resources to achieve respective goals. For example, one section of this wall might feature "Creation of a comprehensive and trustworthy non-corporate news source" and a listing of actions and requirements to realize that goal. Another section might feature "Building synergistic national/international networks among independent media sources" and technical and organizational ways to realize that goal.

o         Data posted to the Goals wall will be used in a “Reality Dialogue” on Sunday to help identify concepts that are supported by everyone present and can best serve as the basis for action planning and commitments from the group.


Theme Breakout Sessions


The conference will break into three tracks for breakout sessions:

o         Narrative / Messaging – Discovering the meta-narratives

o         News Source Development – Creating a trusted, influential non-corporate news source

o         Networking / Technology – How to collaborate and exploit technologies to distribute news


There are two sets of breakout sessions on Saturday afternoon, and one on Sunday morning.

Each affinity group will ensure that some members are present at each of the sessions to report back content to their respective group.