Melbourne Independent Media Centre: Decision Making Policies and Processes

Uploaded as part of the Anarchism in Australia project.

Author: Melbourne IMC
Originally Published: 2002
Retrieved from: web.archive.org copy of melbourne.indymedia.org

Melbourne Independent Media Centre
Decision Making Policies and Processes

Contents
Identity
Tagline
Mission Statement
Decision Making Structure and Accountability
General Collective
Decision Making
Event Collective
Editorial Collective
Features

Identity

Tagline

Melbourne Indymedia is a collective of independent media groups and producers offering grassroots, non-corporate coverage of struggles, actions and celebrations. Everyone is a witness. Everyone is a journalist.

Mission Statement

The Melbourne Independent Media Centre is a grassroots, non-hierarchical organisation. Melbourne IMC is committed to using media production and distribution as tools for promoting social and economic justice.

Through this work, we seek to further the self-determination of people under-represented in the media and to illuminate and analyse local and global issues that impact ecosystems, communities and individuals.

We are dedicated to generating alternatives to the corporate media and to identifying and creating positive models for a sustainable and equitable society.

Decision Making Structure and Accountability

General collective

Melbourne Indymedia general collective is composed of members of the following sub-groups:
– technical
– editorial
– audio
– video
– text
– photo

These groups are self-managing collectives, accountable to the general collective, that may exist separately. Where they exist separately, all decisions made by a sub-collective must be notified to the general collective.

Decision making

How are decisions made?

The Melbourne Indymedia collective and all sub-collectives make decisions using modified consensus.

A facilitator will be chosen at the commencement of a meeting. After discussion the facilitator will check for Consensus.

If consensus cannot be reached the first time, further discussion occurs.

The facilitator then checks for consensus again.

If there is still no consensus, the facilitator will call for a vote on the proposal. A 75% vote will pass the proposal.

Who can participate in decision making at a face to face meeting?

People who have attended 2 out of the 4 most recent face-to-face meetings are eligible to participate in decision making at a face-to-face meeting.

New people are welcome to attend meetings and participate in discussion and demonstrate their commitment to working with the collective.

Online decision making

Online Decision making is undertaken by posting a proposal that needs a decision to the collective e-mail list. Proposals must be marked with “proposal” in the subject line of the e-mail. If there are no objections or further comment by other collective members to the proposal in 24 hours (or another nominated timeframe), the proposal is considered to be adopted via consensus.

If there is discussion on the proposal, it needs to undertaken in a timeframe of 48 hours. A re-worded proposal is then put up for decision again and if no one objects to the modified proposal within 24 hours then the proposal is considered to be adopted via consensus.

If consensus can not be reached at this point, the person proposing it can choose to have the issue discussed at a face to face meeting or put it to an online vote. Only people who have participated in the online discussion can vote. A 75% vote in line with our general collective meeting guidelines deems it passed.

All online decisions are noted at the next general face-to-face collective meeting.

This process does not apply to newswire and editorial feature decision making which is dealt with separately in this document. Nor does it apply to changes to decision-making processes or evicting people from the collective, which must be done at a face-to-face meeting.

Event Collective

During large events, when the collective may expand, a different decision making structure is needed.

Delegates that embody the feelings of each collective will be selected from and by the text, photo, video, audio, technical and editorial collectives themselves, to form an event collective.

General decisions are to be made by the event collective using modified consensus.

Editorial decisions are delegated to the event collective, for the duration of the event. Event collective members are instantly recallable by the collective they represent.

Editorial Collective

The editorial collective is made up of anyone who wishes to be part of the collective. Four people will be chosen by the editorial collective to have the password to the editorial system.

Editorial collective members are accountable and instantly recallable by the general collective.

Editorial collective members make decisions by modified consensus.

Editorial decisions are transparent and may be challenged by the collective or an article poster. These decisions must be made available to the general collective.

Roles

– Hiding posts that contravene newswire protocols. These decisions will be available to the general public via the archived work-list site.
– Uploading and editing features.
– Collating features along with the general collective.
– Fact checking.
¨ If a factual error has been identified in an article that will be linked to by a feature, the editorial collective will e-mail the article author asking for clarification before it will be shown or added to the features area.
¨ Please refer to the error correction process under Newswire for further information.

Editorial Responsibilities

Editors should not abuse their role to create their own pseudo column.

Editors may only edit technical problems with an article, unless they have the permission of the author (see Newswire protocol).

Editors may only edit dubious facts in an article with the consensus of the whole editorial collective (see Newswire protocol).

Features

Members of the editorial collective can decide to institute a feature piece (which is a summary of materials posted to the website, along with other additional relevant outside information). A feature should be around 400 words and should contextualise the events it describes. It takes its lead from the Melbourne newswire.

The same principle applies to regional and international stories, but the feature editor is not required to source Melbourne Indymedia post references.

Who can be a feature editor?

A feature editor must be:
– Part of the editorial collective.
– Willing to research the background of the feature that they are responsible for.
– Committed to updating the feature regularly with postings from newswire and other relevant content (or must actively seek a replacement should they be unable to continue).
– Willing to accept the input of the wider collective

How is a new feature decided?

A member of the collective posts an idea for a feature to the editorial collective list, with some reference to posted articles.

If no one voices any disagreement to the feature idea within 24 hours, the person, or a number of interested people in collaboration, write(s) a feature and posts it to the list in both plain text and HTML with links to references articles.

If there are no objections within 24 hours, it goes up through the nifty features form system. “Objections” here does not refer to grammatical and factual corrections but rather to serious issues with the feature as a whole.

If there are serious objections, the online decision making process is invoked (see “Online Decision Making”).

In extraordinary circumstances, where timeliness is of the essence, a feature writer may gain the approval of two other editorial collective members and a copy-editor and immediately post a feature.

Timeframe and Number of Features

We aim for around 1-3 features a week. The idea is that the front page of the site changes on a fairly regular basis without overwhelming anyone with work.