The first NCMR, then called the National Conference on Media Reform, was held in 2003 in Madison, Wisconsin, and was attended by more 1,700 people. It was the first effort by Free Press, the leading national nonprofit working on media, to bring together a broad-based constituency around media reform.
The goal was to get activists, policy-makers, journalists, students, artists, musicians, filmmakers and concerned citizens of every stripe to find the common-ground that a democratic media system could offer. Having fun was also part of the equation and a rousing performance by Billy Bragg made that easy. Subsequent conferences have followed approximately every eighteen months since.
There’s no other event like the NCMR. Besides being the country’s largest media reform conference, it’s one of the very few progressive conferences —and I’ve been to many—that truly manages to mesh the seriousness of policy sessions, the vitality of grassroots activism and performances by great artists into a coherent whole.
Now, the fifth NCMR is coming right up in Boston this April. Co-sponsored by The Nation, this year’s proceedings will focus broadly on the future of journalism and public media as a necessary predicate to a functioning democracy. Workshops, trainings, panels, debates, films, book-signings, exhibitions, receptions and parties are all part of the conference. This short video with Free Press’s Josh Stearns gives a good sense of what to expect.
Featured speakers this year include Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Glenn Greenwald, Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, Marcy Wheeler, Lawrence Lessig, Sarah Jones, Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Joseph Stiglitz and The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel, John Nichols, Dave Zirin, Laura Flanders and Greg Mitchell!
This year, special emphasis will be paid to how the struggle for social change is inextricably linked to our media system with an entire section of the program devoted to “Social Justice and Movement Building.” These sessions will bring together dozens of inspirational grassroots leaders, activists, writers and scholars who will explain why, throughout history, people have fought for a fair and representative media system and why a better media is crucial to social and economic justice movements today.
Register online with the code “NATION” to receive a special fifty dollar discount. This discount is only valid until March 25. And if you can’t make it in person, both Free Press and thenation.com will be streaming and providing video from numerous panels and talks throughout the weekend.
Hope to see you there!