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An Interview With Inja Coates of the Media Tank
By Clayton Ruley

In 2005, GeoClan.com spoke with Inja Coates of the Media Tank, a non-profit organization that believes in making change through an assortment of activities including lectures, screenings, forums, national organizing ,speaking engagements and media literacy among other activities.We consider The Media Tank and its constituency as friends of GeoClan.com because of their efforts to make change in the way we receive and make media!

GeoClan.com(GC): TELL US ABOUT MEDIA TANK AND ITS BEGINNINGS (FOUNDERS, ETC)? HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN UP AND RUNNING:BUSINESS AND WEBSITE?

 

Inja Coates(IC): Media Tank was founded in 2001.  It grew out of work I was doing around the 2000 Republican National Convention and the campaign for public access TV.  I'd been thinking about starting a media education/activist org for a while and then hooked up with some folks in 1999 that wanted to set up an alternative media center for the Republican National Convention.  we combined efforts and created the Independent Media Center of Philadelphia (IMC-Philly).  After the convention, we decided that the IMC should stay focused on alternative news content and so we created media tank to take on more media education and policy work.  We had several projects and events in 2001 however we received our incorporation and kicked off speaker series in January. 2002.

 

GC: WHAT IS YOUR MISSION AND VISION FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

 

IC: Living in a time when media has increasing power to shape the values and opinions of our society, Media Tank works to provide communities with tools to understand and participate in critical decisions about our nation's media system and culture. Through community education and national organizing, we bring together media arts, education and activism to broaden the movement for media justice and reform as a key strategy for social change.

 

We promote media literacy, policy education, and a vibrant media culture through community workshops, lectures, screenings, forums, national organizing ,speaking engagements, and resources materials. Media Tank has emerged as a model organization in the growing movements for media justice, education and reform by developing new ways to open up debate and encourage public participation in media issues.

 

We envision a media system that allows for greater access, diverse representation, and room for public discourse that is not steeped in corporate/commercial interests that favor profits above the needs of people and communities.

 

 

GC: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ENTITIES YOU WORK WITH?

 

IC: We work with a wide variety of local interests, including community groups, labor, independent bookstores, universities and schools, government officials, educators, students, etc.  Nationally we work with other media education and advocacy groups, activist organizations, public interest groups, and foundations.

 

 

 

GC: HOW MUCH STAFF ARE YOU WORKING WITH NOW?

 

IC: We have 2 full time folks and another full time person about to start and two part time interns.

 

 

GC: ARE YOU FUNDED BY ANYONE IN PARTICULAR (FEEL FREE TO GIVE A SHOUT TO BREAD AND ROSES FOR ALL THEIR WORK)?

 

IC: In addition to some foundation funding, media tank has gotten a lot of grassroots support for our work.  in addition to collecting donations at our events, we receive donations from several hundred individual members.

 

 

GC: WHAT DO YOU DO FOR MEDIA TANK?  ARE YOU FROM THE AREA? SCHOOLING (IF ANY)?

 

IC: I am the cofounder and executive director of media tank.  I grew up in the Midwest but have been in and around Philly on and off for about 20 years.

I went to high school and college in the area.

 

 

GC: WHAT DO YOU THING OF UPLOADING CHANGE OR MAKING CHANGE (THINK OF

GEOCLAN.COM SLOGAN: UPLOADING CHANGE)?

 

IC: I think it's awesome.  what a brilliant slogan. I like how it connects the current technology with current struggle and also speaks to the ground-up approach of grassroots organizing.

For more info on the Media Tank visit their web site at http://www.mediatank.org/

 

 

 



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