Media, Economy Topics for Series

Saturday, July 23, 2011

NORTHAMPTON – Lectures and workshops looking at the media and its influence on society will be the highlight of a six-day summer series put on the Center for Popular Economics.

The series launches Sunday with a talk by John Nichols, foreign correspondent for The Nation magazine, and Libby Reinish of the Florence-based Free Press, at 7 p.m. in Seelye Hall at Smith College.

Nichols’ appearance is part of the Summer 2011 Institute for the Center for Popular Economics, which this summer is titled “Media, Democracy, and the Economy.”

“Media is important on so many levels,” said CPE director Emily Kawano. “It shapes not only the news, but culture. Economic policy shapes the media, and the media in turn shapes the economy. There are so many connections between our economic system and media justice.”

Among the issues that will be covered at this year’s institute are Internet access for poor, rural, and minority communities, and corporations that consolidate ownership of many media companies, leaving the public without a diversity of options for news sources.

Several of the events will feature speakers from local organizations such as Northampton’s Media Education Foundation, and Free Press in Florence.

The evening events are all free and held in Bass Hall or Seelye Hall at Smith. The series is cosponsored by Free Press, the Smith Association for Class Activists, and the Center for Media Justice in Oakland, Calif.

CPE was established in 1978 to advocate that “another world is possible – one that puts people and planet front and center,” according to its website.

The organization aims provide “progressive economic analysis to activists and educators who are organizing for social change.”

“We make up the economy, not the stock market,” said Kawano.

The series closes Friday at 3 p.m. with a “solidarity economy tour,” which is a walking tour of sustainable business and nonprofit models in Northampton. Among the tour stops are the Hungry Ghost Bakery, where participants will hear about the local grain-growing “Wheat Patch Project,” the community arts space in Thornes Marketplace, and a meeting with representatives of Valley Time Trade, who will talk about time-based barter.