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The Big Question


"The Big Question" is a forum for asking difficult and important questions about the nature and trajectory of movements for a democratic and just economy. This is a space to pose challenging problems and to seek emerging solutions from our collective experiences. Do you have a "Big Question" to share? Send it to us! Do you have thoughts, comments or solutions to a question that has been posed? Send them to us! We will publish selected responses to Big Questions in future issues of GEO.


Big Question submissions should be 300 words or less. Send them to:; or by mail to: GEO, c/o Ethan Miller, 217 South Mountain Rd. Greene, ME 04236.


What Does Radically Democratic Media Look Like?

by Ethan Miller, GEO Collective


There has been much excellent analysis recently on the problems of corporate-controlled media. In these discussions, reference is occasionally made to the idea of "democratic media" as an ideal towards which we should strive. If we believe that everyone should be able to participate in and shape the decisions which affect their lives, and that media representations are powerful tools for shaping the realities of people and communities, then we are faced with this question: through what kinds of relationships can those who are represented in media actually have a say in how these representations are made? And just as importantly, how can decisions about what and who to represent be made democratically by the communities served by these media?


GEO, for example, seeks to be a publication in the service of a larger (and growing) movement for economic democracy and solidarity. But decisions regarding GEO's content are made (democratically) by members of a small collective. The same is true of most "radical" or "alternative" media outlets. While the Democracy Now! radio program is an incredible resource in support of social movements for justice and peace, how many members of these movements have a "democratic" say over what content is broadcast? And if we did, what would this look like? And how, in such a structure would we negotiate the tension between fully "open content" publishing and 1) the content limits imposed by finite space and time; and 2) the importance of maintaining a certain "quality of information"?


Are there examples of media organizations who are practicing innovative forms of media democracy? Are there examples of media that is truly democratically controlled and shaped by those they represent?

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