Letter to local groups

In which we apologise for the shortcomings of imc-uk, describe our plan to improve things, reaffirm what indymedia should be about and ask for their support

Subject: A message from Northern Indymedia

Greetings from Northern Indymedia

This is an open letter to grassroots activists in the North of England from the Northern Indymedia collective, also known as IMC (or the Independent Media Centre of) Northern England. You have received this email either because you have previously had contact with Leeds/Bradford or York Indymedia or you have been recommended to us as a group we would like to help provide independent media coverage for. We’re sorry if you get it more than once. Please help us to distribute this email to any others you feel may find it of interest.

What is Indymedia supposed to be?

For those who are unsure of what the Indymedia project is, here’s a very brief run-down.

Indymedia was founded in Seattle in 1999 to provide independent and accurate coverage for activists who would be protesting at the WTO summit. The failings of the mainstream media were as obvious then as now – vested interests with elite groups, corporate ownership and corrupt professional journalism meant that groups such as yours may never have their campaigns represented in an accurate way if at all.

By using open publishing newswires where anyone can easily publish their news and collectively run, non-heirarchical local media centres, Indymedia has spread across the world and is now in it’s tenth year of providing a media voice for activists.

In this country, there are many IMC’s (independent media centres) across the country, organised into what is called the United Kollectives (UK). This was an experimental way for local activist news to reach a national audience and so inspire others to take action. The closest UK IMC’s to your group were until recently IMC Leeds/Bradford and IMC York, which have now merged into IMC Northern.

What have been the limitations of IMC-UK?

Northern IMC have asked ourselves why so many of the radical actions and initiatives we hear about through our friends go unreported on imc-uk, of which our old website was part. More to the point, we asked lots of local activists like yourselves. Despite its achievements, not many of you were happy with the way imc-uk works and we’ve listened to a great deal of criticism and ideas for how it could be better, along with the many things you like and and would like to see made more prominent.

These are the things that you said you wanted, but didn’t get from our current site within imc-uk:

  • A website that’s easier to upload photos, video and files to
  • An open collective that you can get involved in
  • A transparent, consensual process
  • Training on how to write reports
  • Regular face-to-face meetings
  • Less centralisation / being told what you can & can’t do by people you’ve never met
  • A calendar where you can publicise events yourself
  • Editorial open-mindedness

Some of us have put a lot of effort into trying to get these things to work within the existing imc-uk structure (we even hosted a meeting for the UK indymedia network last October). Unfortunately we’ve not been able to make much progress, because there isn’t a functioning collective process. It’s not a decision we’ve taken lightly, but we’ve decided that the time has come to set up our own autonomous IMC that can deliver what you want. This is a route that’s already been taken by imc-scotland, imc-bristol and imc-london.

How we’re going to change things

To re-establish trust and participation in the Indymedia project in this region is a serious challenge. Thankfully, much of the hard work has already been done. For the last year, the newly reformed imc Leeds/Bradford collective have been working to build an effective media centre which can provide coverage for groups such as yours.

Through regular meetings, skillshares and outreach work talking to various groups in this region, we have reached a point where we can begin to take more confident steps in a positive direction. Primarily, this means moving away from the UK and all the baggage it carries, towards a truly autonomous independent media centre which puts the local activists and groups we provide coverage for at the very heart of the process at every stage. We are reorganising ourselves as “IMC Northern,” a deliberately vague term so as to include anyone in tiny areas as much as in the big cities in the region. By “tagging” your articles when you publish in our newswire you will be able to provide your locality, no matter how remote, with your own local newswire alongside regional and global news, with your own web address to direct people to.

The new site we are building will allow campaign groups to have their own area of the site to collaborate on news articles and events announcements. It will be easy to upload photos and videos to the site of actions and posters for events. Also, we will always be open in our process and ready to listen to any ways we can improve our coverage.

How you can help

Above everything else, the most important part of this process is you. We are sending this email to invite you to get involved (as an individual or a group) and help to build a resource which is to the benefit of all grassroots activists in our region, whether campaigning for animal liberation, radical social change, anti-capitalism, anti-racism, disability rights, climate activism, anti-militarism or anything else which will make our world a better place. We exist solely to give you a louder voice.

The main way you can help us is by writing reports for the newswire of actions and campaigns you are involved in, no matter how small. We are particularly interested in giving a voice to those who wouldn’t get any coverage elsewhere.

Also, we are a collective and so if you would like to get more directly involved with imc Northern (all of the current members are activists with other campaigns as well) there are a number of ways you can do this. You will find our main collaboration tools at we.riseup.net/imc-northern and you could join our low volume mailing list at imc-northern@lists.indymedia.org. The best way by far though is to come to our meetings which are advertised on our site and on the mailing list. We are commited to hold meetings all over our region so if your group would like to host one, please contact us via the mailing list.

And finally…

To end on a very practical note, we are happy to announce the Northern Indymedia Art Uncompetition. We’d like people to send us graphics we could use on the new site, particularly a logo and a banner (those are the bits at the top of each page). For the logo, we’d like it to reflect a positive aspect of northern culture married with the “(((i)))” symbol. For the banner, it might be a collage of photos from actions (help yourself from the old website), an original piece of graphic art, or whatever you want really. It’s an uncompetition because nobody loses – everyone’s ideas will be valued – and as everything submitted to us has to be free for others to re-use, we might end up with a mash-up of different submissions. Send your ideas to the email address below.

In solidarity

IMC Northern

imc-northern@lists.indymedia.org (publicly archived collaboration list)
imc-northern-contact@lists.indymedia.org (private list, only for confidential stuff)


phew i was writing this on my phone and the battery died just as i clicked submit. Lucky it made it through.

I realised there’s a bit of a paradox if we are to include replies on the supporting groups bit of the form as this letter assumes we’ve already submitted it.

Maybe if we include groups we are involved with ourselves on that it will be enough with an explanation of how we are doing outreach to others. Also, we need to put together a list of addresses here to send this letter to. Assuming the commonplace announce list is a good start as that will reach a lot of people, and i’ll start asking groups i meet on my wanders for a contact address if they’re ok with that. I could start a wiki in the closed area where we can aggregate a contact list? Or should we ask for a dedicated list on aktivix or something so it’s less visible?


This is brilliant. I realise that’s not contributing anything as such…busy busy busy…


You typed all that on a phone? Thumbs on fire dude!

There’s a bit in here that contradicts what we say in the new-imc form, for which we need to find a form of words that we can use in both places: We say here ‘the UK experiment has failed’, but on the new-imc form we say something to the effect of ‘complimenting’ the city-based IMCs…


ok how about adding a line to this letter along the lines of whilst we continue to support and hope to compliment those imc’s in the UK that are still run through a collective process and engage positively with local activist groups, we feel we would create something better for our region by setting up as a brand new imc.?



We support all other IMCs that are genuinely run in accordance with the principles of unity by a collective, but we’ve observed that the network of local groups that make up IMC-UK doesn’t always run on these lines, so we are making something better for our region.

Any more offers?


Looks good to me, I’ll add it in.


OK. do we have some idea of how we will send this out?


this has been up for a while now. Can i suggest a 48hr deadline for any further changes before we start sending it out. We could do with some way of keeping track of who we have sent it to already so it doesn’t look like we are spamming local networks. Maybe we could use a task list for this. Ie add the name of the group it has been sent to and tick it to indicate some kind of reply? I’d suggest not making that publicly visible for obvious reasons. Any objections? If not, i’ll start up the list and we can begin sending it out on tuesday :-)


(provided we have had a reply from listwork by then about changing the name of the mailing list to imc-northern that is, otherwise as soon after we get confirmation of that as possible)


ch ch ch ch changes as Bowie would say

I’ve made quite a few so please check I haven’t ballsed it up


hehe love the uncompetition! Bluepetermedia! Why wasn’t that proposed? Have we heard anything back from listwork yet? Maybe we should hassle them in irc a bit? Is it possible to get a redirect from the old leeds and york lists to the new one as well?


re: people we could send this to in Bradford, I have lots swimming in my brain, but Protag will probably out do me…grrr!

I think it’s really important to send it to people like Briefing Bradford as well as all the obviously anarchist hangouts like 1in12 and Treehouse and to some extent the Resource Centre.

So I’m just going to type them all now because otherwise i’ll forget;

The Equity Centre
Briefing Bradford
Community Repaint
Bradford Mind
Evolving Minds
Eight Nozzled Elephant food co-op
The Resource Centre
The Bradford Playhouse
Students Union
the animal rights group in Bradford who exist but i am yet to meet
The Cellar Project [??]
Desmond Tutu House
Yorkshire CND
McKenzie Friends
Student union women’s forum
Bradford STAR
Commonweal Library

ok i think i’m done…


OK. We have our new lists and so we can send this out now. I’m putting a draft letter to our existing list together now which should go out just before we send it so that they hear about the new lists first. I’m setting a 24hr deadline for any changes to that so then we can send this and the new imc form out at the same tim unless there are any objections?


OK time to crack on I reckon as the letter about the new lists has been sent today. we need to be fairly organised in how we do this so we don’t send multiple mails to the same lists/groups. We can use the tasklist marker set up but need to make sure we tick them off as we send them :-)


I’ve tweaked the wording a bit, to reflect the things that other people asked us for, so it’s clearer that the direction we’re taking is a response to the needs of our community. I hope that will deal with some of the questions that have been asked about this draft in other places. FWIW, I don’t think anyone’s sent it out to local groups yet.


this is great! it shows we have listened to the concerns of the uk and that we are focusing on those in our region. We really ought to be sending this out as soon as possible so it can be circulated as far as possible before the big switch on! Any volunteers that aren’t going to be pissed in a field watching billy bragg next week :)


i still hold that backwards mentality that a letter is a real piece of paper, but i’m assuming we’re going to send this electronically?

i’ll start on a contacts list now then we can jsut press the ‘Go’ button and it will be done, hurrah!


Hi Jen & everyone,

We’ve already got a list of email addresses – I’ll send you a link to it – let’s stick with one list so we don’t hit the same people more than once.

The idea was we could send a slightly customised version of the letter to each group, according to their particular make-up & interests, rather than just one email addressed to lots of groups. Apart from the benefits of a personal approach, lots of email lists automatically reject messages of which they’re one of several recipients.

I’m going to start sending stuff out tomorrow – hope you can too. Go agitprop!


i’ve added some emails… i added the ones that were easy to get/i already had first. so i have a bit more work to do.



it seems the deadline is passed, from above comments… did the letter already go out? if it is to be sent again, when is the next deadline?

thanks – ana


Dropped in a couple of changes as a compromise to some of the critisism we’ve been getting from the global network, mainly making sure we are consistent using IMC Northern England (I know…) in official documents and added a sentence to say we recognise there are good things brought about by mir, and we are expanding them and making them even better. though it’s late, i’m tired and my battery’s running out so I haven’t done much zzzzz can someone working on the “sending out” stuff get back to ana asap please :-)

Love you all xxx


I was going to send this to the list but then I read the thing about “low volume mailing list”, so keeping it here for now.

Ok, reading the document carefully. I have major problems with the following sentences:

In this country, there are many IMC’s (independent media centres) across the country, organised into what is called the United Kollectives (UK).This was an experimental way for local activist news to reach a national audience and so inspire others to take action. The closest UK IMC’s to your group were until recently IMC Leeds/Bradford and IMC York, which have now merged into IMC Northern.

This “was”? So in one sentence you have just wiped out the whole network. Nice. Not. Your sentence is inaccurate and misleading. It makes it look like the network doesn’t exist any more.

The second part about Leeds/Bradford – well, it still exists in the uk mir site, so it is another misleading statement.

Some of us have put a lot of effort into trying to get these things to work within the existing imc-uk structure (we even hosted a meeting for the UK indymedia network last October).
I would like to see more of that “lot of effort”. I.e, was hosting a network meeting that lasted one single day, as opposed to the full weekend that these gatherings usually take, all action you took in order to change the code of imc uk (which is what would be necessary to improve msot of the shortcomings you cite of imc uk)?

because there isn’t a functioning collective process
this is absolutely misleading. I would point to the different wiki pages where the different processes are explained but I would have thought that people in this collective would have take the time to have a read through?

…but we’ve decided that the time has come to set up our own autonomous IMC that can deliver what you want. This is a route that’s already been taken by imc-scotland, imc-bristol and imc-london.
I would only be happy with the inclusion of imc-london in that sentence. bristol had a separate website with their own system before imc-uk moved to mir from active. the reason why they chose that route was not to “deliver what you want” as opposed to a mir site that “doesn’t deliver”, as you imply here. And the reason for imc-scotland to have its own site was, as i understood, nationalism, again not delivery of something.

To re-establish trust and participation in the Indymedia project in this region is a serious challenge.
Wow. I’m not sure if I want to ask some kind of evidence of this cataclysm. But surely if the lack of trust has happened in “this region” surely the collective operating in “this region” could take part of the responsibility too?

Primarily, this means moving away from the UK

If I am to take JimDog’s word for it, you need to change that to “from the uk imc site currently running on MIR”.

(help yourself from the old website)

can you please provide a link to the old dysfunctional site ;)? I ’m sure it can still handle picture downloading, for all its shortcomings :p



Right, I’ve sent loads of these out this afternoon, all with slight modifications according to target group. Also I made some changes to account for some of ana’s comments, as discussed elsewhere.

Can someone else please do the rest of the mailouts please? You can see which ones I’ve ticked off from the ‘list of local groups’ document.