Seize the Media

Media Centre

Sprouting globally in 1999, Independent Media Centres were the main infrastructure of the Indymedia network. Built on the principles and politics of free software and open publishing, the network shared servers, bandwidth, technical and organisational skills. Most permanent IMCs were linked to cities (Bristol) or countries (Russia), but other sprang up around major mobilisations, such as big counter-summits of the anti-globalisation movement.

A permanent IMC is a website run by a local Indymedia group. For example, a couple of media centres which are still very much active are Berlin and Athens. Moderated by local Indymedia collectives, these sites allow for free posting of call-outs about protests/events/activities, discussion pieces, videos, photos and sound reports. The intention is to provide an alternative to corporate and state media, both in terms of what they cover and how they cover it. Since Indymedia promotes citizen journalism, the perspectives and experiences of the contributors vary and often reflect the particular campaign or issue which is closest to them. By posting call-outs, users were able to also better represent their movements and campaigns, since this would increase the likelihood that Indymedia regulars would attend and report on the activities featured.

An example of a temporary IMC is the one which was set up in Edinburgh in 2005 to cover the network of protests against the G8 summit in Stirling. A global mobilisation of activists brought people together in carnivals, road blockades, marches etc. around the issues of global capitalism, poverty, immigration, nuclear weapons and many others. Click here for a summary from CrimethInc.

The Edinburgh media centre ran a bunch of computers which allowed for users to post their reports and reflections of the protests. It also ran a 'dispatch', which was a phone line open 24 hours a day, which could take down a report of an event, be it a police raid or a successful protest action. Once verified through another source, this information would be logged on the timeline of the G8 protests which became a unique, real-time chronicle of the events. Nowadays, most big media outlets run timelines, reliant on twitter and other social media, which tell the story as it unfolded during the day. Before the advent of social media, Indymedia was often the best and only way to present a counter-narrative or reporting from the ground for events which were being sidelined and misrepresented, often involving the cover-up of police brutality, as in the infamous case of Genoa in 2001. You can see an example of a timeline in the TIMELINE section of this exhibition and hear from reflections from Planet and Maqui about timelines in the REFLECTIONS section.

Indymedia Centers (IMC)

from Alternative Media Handbook - IMC chapter: REPORTING THE G8 IN SCOTLAND, 2005

Setting up independent media centres – temporary autonomous zones in the midst of global protest

The set-up sounds simple: find a space, get enough computers, connect them to the Internet, then people will come and write their reports, post their pictures and phone in to the news dispatch centre to report what’s happening in the streets and at the protests (see

In practice there is always more: rewiring the mains electricity circuit; sourcing enough power cables (and then tables to stick 50 computers on and chairs to go with them), finding transport for all the kit, making sure phone lines and cables are working, juggling with printer drivers, sourcing smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, making banners and flyers, publishing the reporting telephone numbers, finding safe places for people to sleep, liaising with a dozen different groups, sticking maps of Gleneagles on the wall, getting enough coffee and food to keep people going, holding meetings to involve people and to decide on opening times and access procedures, designing information flows, making exhaustive lists of events to cover, identifying tasks and making rotas, and dealing with the police . . . all this before even opening the doors.

Every physical independent media centre that has been built has differed in its size, shape and the level of organisation and co- ordination. Some have been just a room to meet up in and plan coverage, like in Prague for the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank meeting in 2000. There, media activists used public Internet cafés to work from, making it almost impossible for the repressive Czech authorities to shut down the IMC operation. In the US, several media centres have had serious financial funding, running to tens of thousands of US dollars, allowing for the creation of more elaborate infrastructure.

Every centre is an experiment in on-the-ground horizontal organising, in participatory media-making – and in reporting the truth often obscured by the main-stream media.

The indymedia network grew rapidly. Here is a zoomable interactive map of many of the IMCs around the world from 2005:
The old map no longer exists. We recreated it for this exhibition based on the what was left behind at

Materials about G8 Indymedia Centre can be found in the slideshow below and the REFLECTIONS and VIDEO sections of the exhibition.