Bike Clubs, Red Eye Redux, Music Policing, Tax Day Distributions, CAN TV, Chicago Summers

•August 24, 2008 • 2 Comments

Ah….summertime. When many bloggers take a break.

Not the Music Evangelism gang! They are still at it. The students created a great blog that continues to get a lot of hits.

Chicago summertimes are always filled with music: Pitchfork Music Festival, Lollapalooza, etc.. I went to Lollapalooza for the first time with my teenagers this summer. Whew… Cat Power and Radiohead were great. My partner witnessed Wilco who stood out, he said. (My son thought 9 Inch Nails were pretty ‘killer’…) But yes, I am getting too old for 85,000 people in Grant park.

Sitting with 30,000 people in the park to watch and sing to “The Blues Brothers” movie was almost enough for me. Projectionist James Bond produced yet another perfect outdoor screening for one of my favorite Chicago summer events–Chicago Outdoor Film Festival.


The Guerilla Media class went to Chicago’s CanTV for a free orientation–the first step towards getting trained to produce your own free TV show. The students got a good introduction to the challenges of financing community media, and keeping it fresh, provocative, and up-to-date. Community television is in the midst of a big transition with the digital universe. Chicago Access Network Television is trying to keep up…


I promised to cover some of the final student projects in our first Guerilla Media class at Loyola Chicago. The students produced a wide variety of great, guerilla media interventions. Here are a few:

Bike Clubs–The “Guerilla” media quotient for this project was quite strong. The students distributed Bike Club cards and impressive posters, and created a Facebook site and a web site. But the students’ ability to lay the groundwork for a participatory cultural experience for Loyola students was the best part of the project. The students organized to form a student bike club that repairs abandoned bikes on campus, and then places them around Loyola’s Chicago city campuses with accessible bike locks for free student rides. They also negotiated with Campus Safety and Facilities in order to secure free bikes and a repair location. Finally, they secured significant funds from Student Activities to make it all happen. See LUC Bike Rental Service

Red Eye Redux–Writing and placing “Redux”–a student-written ‘underground’ newsletter inside of Chicago’s “Red Eye” free weekly was a gutsy, guerilla thing to do. The writing style, critique of faux journalism, and overall creativity were strong, but the cynicism was a little heavy… Check out Redux, the blog.

Potty Poetry–Appreciated the instinct–placing free writing paper, attached clipboards and pens in toilets to write poetry. As long as vandalism does not happen with the materials, and a destructive-free way of posting the poems occurs regularly, poetry in potties is a beautiful thing.

Music Policing–The Music Evangelism gang got policed by MySpace! Even though they had permission to post free music, it got taken down rapidly by weg administrators. But that attention got them noticed. Using Bebo seemed to be a nice alternative too–for Bootz and Friends. The students’ Music Evangelism blog definitely got the most hits in the class.

IRS Sign ‘Bombing’ and Free DVD distribution–In a true libertarian spirit, some of The Third Party bloggers went to the post office on Tax Day with posters, signs and free DVDs that questioned the current US tax system. A Third Party Blog should continue its interesting global work on multi-party systems around the globe!

Lots of other good student projects featured street performers (Chicago’s Bucket Boys and Copper Cowboy), Vocalo and more experimentations with sound, music and the web, documentaries about women rugby players, and Kartemquin-inspired blogs that wonder about love: LoveIsUs.

I encourage more students to add to this guerilla media blog in the future. I will keep an eye out for new links too.

Elizabeth Coffman


Teletubbies, Digital Zapatistas, Viral Marketing, Sign “Bombing”

•April 16, 2008 • 1 Comment

Guerilla Media Class is nearing the end of the Spring 08 semester. Students are preparing their final community media projects and updating their blogs. I will report on the final projects soon.

The projects range from persuading Loyola Chicago’s Public Safety office to donate ‘found’ or abandoned bikes on campus to the student Bike Club, (who will place them for free around campus), to unconventional promotional efforts for a new musician, who is giving away his music online for free, to sign ‘bombings’ on a variety of issues, including guerilla support for 3rd Party Political candidates, as well as a project that documents “random encounters” on the Chicago El by the women’s rugby team, in full uniform and covered with mud.

Our readings on guerilla media, our guest speakers, our field trip to CANTV and LUC’s new Information Commons have helped us to see the digital spectrum as ranging from political activism to viral marketing, and to think through Habermas’s ideas of the ideal public sphere. The public, the market and participatory culture redefine how politics, economy, art, and pop culture interweave and overlap in old and new media arenas. From blogging in Ethiopian elections to radio listening clubs in Malawi, from the Guerilla Girls to Second Life, the participatory power of new media is obvious.

The futures of traditional newspapers, film studios, broadcast radio and TV stations are in question right now because of how they are financed, promoted and distributed. Advertising and access issues are shaking out in front of us every day, with reporters’ firings, FCC meetings, mergers, bankruptcies, etc… What is clear is that pressure is being applied from both the ‘bottom’ and the ‘top’ in terms of regulation, public access, and market control of new media issues. Things are happening horizontally across the globe too—borders and nation-states aren’t recognized in quite the same ways anymore. Everyone can play World of Warcraft.

We need to keep that pressure on! Make it creative!
Have some “serious fun,” as Henry Jenkins suggests….
Keep it participatory and political!

The market and the government will respond to our interests and demands for access and participation.

We’ve been thinking in class about a few, very different examples lately: the Teletubbies and the Digital Zapatistas.

1. Teletubbies, “consuming” children, cyborg desire

As Nicholas Mirzoeff says in his article about the Teletubbies, perhaps the world’s most popular children’s television show, “The adults are not happy. The television critics are uncertain. The cyborgs are in raptures.” (440) Each Teletubbie has a screen and an antenna. They are cyborgs. The show was initially created by Ragdoll Productions to connect children with technology, to help them overcome their fear or resistance, to make them consumers of it.

The infants are in charge in this world. And so are their desires. Each Teletubbie occasionally receives TV signals from the outside world, showing ‘real children’ playing on the screens in their stomachs. This is where it starts–the younger techno-savvy kids leave their older Luddite parents behind, starting with their TV shows. Jerry Falwell attacked the Teletubbies for being “gay”–with purple outfits, carrying red purses, and having male voices. Other critics see Teletubbies as part of the consumerization of childhood, which is compounded by the success of Harry Potter books/films/products and video games. The “child has become a privileged locus for the generation of hyperprofit–the new generation of profit that results from the successful catching of mass attention.” (447)

Guerilla marketing tactics often target the young. You can see viral marketing in city graffiti, hip hop culture, on billboards, and YouTube. Teletubbies products are all over the world, in Toys-R-Us, on airplanes, etc… But Mirzoeff notes how Teletubbies has been reappropriated as an “icon of nonconformity” and that the TV show does not respect ownership–“goods appear magically.” Mirzoeff compares this “cyborg consumerism” to Napster and its threat to the music industry–their desires and distribution of information aren’t just one way. He finds the Teletubbies both threatening and comforting in their infantile tendencies to reject the capitalist market in favor of cyborg communication.

Nicholas Mirzeoff, “Teletubbies: Infant Cyborg Desire and the Fear of Global Visual Culture” in Planet TV: A Global Television Reader, ed. Lisa Parks and Shanti Kumar. New York: New York University Press, pp. 439-454.

2. Political, performance art meets guerilla activism–Digital Zapatistas.

Jill Lane’s article “Digital Zapatistas” in The Drama Review 47, 2, Summer 2003 describes the experimental, digital activism of Electronic Disturbance Theater and their support of the Zapatista’s political efforts in Chiapas, Mexico in 2001. The Zapatista Tribal Port Scan project launched nonviolent “attacks” on various online organizations through writing digital code that would invade open cyber ports and endlessly repeat a “fragmented, bilingual poem about the struggle for peace with dignity in Chiapas.” (130). This incident is an early form of digital activism on a global scale, which grew out of earlier guerilla ‘performances’ by the Zapatistas, who recognized that get the world’s attention, they would need to use ‘alternative’ methods for delivering, documenting and advocating stories, incidents and issues. The Zapatistas have used well-publicized guerrilla tactics for peaceful, nonviolent protest–e.g. the Zapatista Air Force threw paper airplanes through barbed wire at Federal soldiers. (Lane, 130)

Henry Jenkins Aca-Fans Site

•March 11, 2008 • 2 Comments

If you haven’t checked it out yet, you have to see Henry Jenkins’s site.
The post for this week is about his talk at South by Southwest and a lot of the issues surrounding participatory culture, community media, collective identities, collective intelligences, etc… questions that will help us with more guerilla media tactics.

Jenkins also gets at a lot of gender issues with digital technology and fandom. There are reasons why girls avoid certain virtual spaces, and reasons why they seek them out. I wonder what the technology issues with the boys are? What is ‘fear culture’ all about for young people and technology? Why are parents so scared about the their kids on the Web? Should they be?

What kind of fearless fan are you?

Community Media Notes

•March 6, 2008 • 2 Comments

March 6, 2008

It’s Spring Break in Chicago, and the snow is still falling!

I’ve been looking over the research papers from the Guerilla Media class, and I am pleased at the range of student topics–from guerilla marketing to the guerilla girls; from podcasting to community radio in Sierra Leone; from Howard Dean’s 04 digital presidential campaign strategies to Tom Weinburg on the history of independent television.

Guerilla media tactics are everywhere.

If you want your story, your art, or your issue to find an audience in today’s saturated media environment, you will need to find an equivalent to Studs Terkel on a Chicago soapbox: see

The chaos of the Internet makes you realize that the invention of the index is in the top 100 of greatest inventions ever. Not surprising that discerning who invented the index is loaded with historic and religious controversies. Preserving history and the materials that inscribe it is nothing new either… But, as we realize how fragile the materials of digital media are, preservation suddenly seems much more important.

Whatever happened to good ole’ stone? Why does film seem like a solid, archival device now? When did library science become such an exciting career?

Libraries are linked to mortality.

So is the Internet…

Feb. 13, 2008

In Community Media: A Global Introduction by Ellie Rennie, we have covered the first three chapters so far and sections from Dee Dee Halleck’s Hand-held Visions.

Rennie, Community Media
Introduction, Ch. One: Community

Defining community media:
Pg. 3 “ Community media is local tv in Denmark, microradio and public access tv in the US, local newsletters produced by women in Bengal, and the web-based Indymedia that operates in seventy cities around the worlds….Community media is usually run on a not for profit basis and provides community members with an opportunity to participate in the production process. However, community stations do vary immensely in their finances, structures, and the audiences for which they are intended…In Europe, community media is often described as ‘local media,’ while in Third World contexts it is often called ‘participatory media’…”

Pg. 4 IMACR defines community media as media that “originates, circulates and resonates from the sphere of civil society…This is the field of media communication that exists outside of the state and the market (often non-government and non-profit), yet which may interact with both.”

Pg. 7 “At the core of this book is the notion of civil society and its revival. Civil Society is sometimes referred to as the ‘third sector.’….”

Community media theories have developed over time from oppositional and ‘alternative’ to more progressive, inclusive ideas of community and “alternative media based on empowerment and citiczenship.” (9)
See discussion on Liberalism, communitarianism

Ch. Two: Access and Free Speech

Development of PEG access in U.S. and free speech model of access (just open the doors and train volunteers on technology) vs. access that includes empowerment ‘training’ in addition to technology. “Passive audience members could be transformed into active producers.” (pg. 18) See Alternative Media Center at NYU, Boston Neighborhood Network, and Alliance for Community Media’s magazine issue on “Rethinking Access Philosophy.”

Covers history of community access in Canada—Challenge for Change program, as well as Lewis Hine and Pacifica-KPFA in San Fran, and regulations surrounding Low Power TV and radio stations

Ch. Three: Quality and the Public Interest

Different European issues, where Public/Government broadcast had more control over market or community. “Where the U.S. tradition sees civil society as necessarily separate from the state, and potentially distorted by state involvement, the European tradition sees civil society as dependent upon, and made stronger through, the state’s assistance. (pg. 78)

Issues of decentralization of ‘monopoly public systems’ are foregrounded. Also, questions of community media’s ‘amateurish’ qualities or the market’s drive towards exploitation and lowest common denominator for content (e.g. pornography, celebrity news, etc..)

See discussion of Netherland’s Salto media channels. Also oovers community radio and history of pirate radio in Europe.

Dee Dee Halleck’s Hand-held Visions: The impossible possibilities of Community Media.

Halleck discusses her experiences with teaching media on the Lower East side of NYC in the early 1960s. Also discusses the MacBride Report initiated by UNESCO that encouraged governments to develop communication systems that give access/voice to and representation of ‘others’. MacBride was Amnesty International founder. (pg. 85-86). She also discusses public access’s ‘reputation’ for promoting “images of kinky sex and Nazis.” (99)

Halleck looks at how access offers an emergency back-up system during times of crisis—weather-related, etc.. And offers space for public dissent: e.g. Deep Dish TV network’s coverage of Gulf War.

She covers history of ITVS and NAMAC and relationships to public television and funding for Media Centers, “Guerilla” video”, and the early history of video art, TVTV’s work. Halleck also looks at how ‘guerilla’ news tactics were ‘co-opted’ in the 80s by police shows and gossip shows. But still, important work was begun and sustained by Appalshop in Kentucky, the 90’s (Tom Weinberg) in Chicago, and Downtown Community Television in NYC.

See John Downing’s work on Radical Media: Rebellious Communication and Social Movements
See Deidre Boyle’s book, Subject to Change: Guerilla Television Revisited

Guerilla Media Syllabus

•March 6, 2008 • Leave a Comment

CMUN 297: Guerilla Media
Spring 2008                                                                                  Elizabeth Coffman
Department of Communication, 103                                        Loyola University Chicago

Office Hours: Wed: 1-4 or by appointment

“Become the Media….. “
Indymedia, Jello Biafra

Course Goals:
Guerilla Media covers the history and theory of alternative forms of journalism, film, and digital media production, and explores how the term guerilla has been appropriated for various methods of distribution, promotion and audience participation.

The course introduces the history of experimental film and video distribution, “guerilla” news media, citizen journalism, ‘viral’ ad campaigns and, what Henry Jenkins calls, “participatory culture”.  We will see how the “independent” classification shifts according to appropriations of avant-garde techniques and how similar guerilla media tactics are employed by union activists, artists, bloggers, ‘citizen’ journalists, and advertisers.  The course includes ideas emerging from academic and professional fields of study, and will make use of the Media Burn Video Archive.

Community Media: A Global Introduction, by Ellie Rennie.  Oxford: Rowan &
Littlefield, 2006. (CM)
Hand-held Visions:  The Impossible Possibilities of Community Media, by Dee
Dee Halleck.  New York: Fordham Press, 2002. (HHV)

Selected Readings From:
Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Media Consumers in a Digital Age; Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, by Henry Jenkins; What are Journalists For? by Jay Rosen; Performing Video in the First Decade, 1968-1980 by  Chris Hill; Planet TV, ed. Lisa Parks, Shanti Kumar; The End of Cinema as we know it, ed Jon Lewis.

Grade Scale:
Participation                        10%
Group Blogs & Presentation                25%
Research Paper                        30%
Community Media Project, Article or Campaign    35%

Course Expectations:
•    You will be required to write one research paper (6-8) pages with at least 5 sources; complete a guerilla media project, article or campaign; participate in a group blog on a media issue, and give an in-class presentation on your group blog.  You will have access to the Media Burn Archive for research purposes.
•    All work must be original and done for this class.  All work must be turned in on time.  Any plagiarism will result in an F for the class.  If you need help completing assignments, please see me or go to the Writing Center for outside help.
•    You must view additional media outside of class time.  If you are sick, I must see a note from the infirmary or a doctor.
•    If you have any kind of disability that requires accommodation, you may disclose with documentation to the Wellness Center.  You may also, of course, speak to me about it.

Course Schedule:

Week 1: January 16
Course overview:  What do we mean by guerilla media?

Media Burn; Inquiring Nuns, Hoop Dreams, Kartemquin Films, Barbie Liberation Army, Guerilla Girls,

Assign:  Write 1-2 pg. Description of your Daily/weekly media Intake and Output—newsprint, audio, video, internet; Read articles; Ch 1 in CM;  HHV 82-91, Look at Jay Rosen’s Pressthink blog

Week 2: January 23
History of Community Media; Blogging, WordPress and Digital Storytelling.

Form Blog groups
Due: Ch 1 Community in CM, Articles, HHV 82-91
1-2 pg media use description

Assign: A description/outline for final project.; HHV pp.97-108, CM Ch 2  Access and Free Speech


Week 3:  January 30
Video Art and Chicago
Guest Speaker: Tom Weinburg—Mediia Burn, Ant Farm, Image Union…

Due: A description list and outline for final media project; HHV pp. 97-108
Ch 2  Access and Free Speech

Assign: Research Paper Topic—Provide Thesis, Exs, Sources; HHV pp 266-283

Week 4:  February 6
Pacifica, Vocalo, Community, Pirate and Public Radio
Guest Speaker:  Andrea Wenzel

Interviewing techniques and practice; audio work
Due: Research Paper Topic—Thesis, Exs, Sources; HHV pp 266-283

Assign: Radical Software, Remainder of Chris Hill Video Art article

Week 5: February 13
Class discussion on Community Media

Due:  Radical Software readings
Remainder of Chris Hill Video Art article

Assign:  Work on research paper, Laura Marks, “Live Video” in The End of Cinema as we know it

Week 6: February 20
Guest Speaker–Sharon Karp, Kartemquin and Independent Filmmaker

Quality and the Public Interest discussion
The “voice” of the documentary.  Who’s in charge?  Documentarian as witness, reporter, social memory, narrative, propaganda.  Story-telling—auteur, collaborative, branding.

Asssign:  Work on research paper


Week 7: February 27
Research Paper due

Screening; Discussion of Marks, “Live Video,” Chris Hill, “Performing Video in the First Decade, 1968-1980”

Assign:  CM Ch 4 Diversity; Digital Zapatistas, HHV pp. 333-340; “Interactive Audiences?  The ‘Collective Intelligence’ of Media Fans” in Henry Jenkins Fans, Bloggers and Gamer

Spring Break – March 5

Week 8: March 12
It’s a Global Media World

Due:  CM Ch 4 Diversity, Digital Zapatistas; HHV pp. 333-340;  “Interactive Audiences?  The ‘Collective Intelligence’ of Media Fans” in Henry Jenkins Fans, Bloggers and Gamer

Assign:  Work on projects; “Marriages are Made on Televisions:  Globalization and National Identity in India” by Divya McMillin; HHV pp.114-124, 384-402

Week 9: March 19
Global Media—Getting Married Online and TV, Rrriot Girls, Guerilla Girls

Due: “Marriages are Made on Televisions:  Globalization and National Identity in India” by Divya McMillin;s HHV pp.114-124, 384-402;

Assign for 11/2:  Hazards of Dissent–Ethiopia Blogs, Youth Participation in Radio Listening Clubs in Malawi; Blogs/Business in Malaysia ; CM Ch 5  Development


Week 10:  March 26

Field Trip:  CAN TV, Orientation, Meet at 322 S. Green St. by 5.
Go to Halsted on Blue line, UIC stop, walk N. to Van Buren, left at corner

Week 11: April 2
Global Media—Africa and Asia

Due: View rough cuts/drafts of final projects;
Hazards of Dissent–Ethiopia Blogs, Youth Participation in Radio Listening Clubs in Malawi; Blogs/Business in Malaysia ; CM Ch 5  Development

Assign: “Photoshop for Democracy” in Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture; Ch
6  in CM, Access Reconfigured; “Teletubbies: Infant Cyborg Desire”

Week 12: April 9
Global Media—Teletubbies, Viral Marketing and Democratic Convergence?

Due: “Photoshop for Democracy” in Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture; Ch 6  in CM, Access Reconfigured; Teletubbies: Infant Cyborg Desire”


Week 13: April 16
Finish Teletubbies, Viral Marketing and Democracy discussion.

Working class on group blogs, final projects


Week 14: April 23

Presentations of Blogs


Week 15: April 30—Final Guerilla Media Projects Due and
Presented during Exam time

Discussion/Blog/Media Project Ideas

•    What is the future of public access television?  Of community radio?
•    History of ‘guerilla’ movements in arts and culture; e.g. Guerilla Girls
•    History of ‘guerilla’ movements in politics—Mao Tse-tung, Che Guevara, Black Panther Party, Greens (?)
•    Publish story/research Chicago Indymedia Center
•    Research WLUW, college and community radio and AMARC.  Volunteer with WLUW
•    Tom Weinburg, Media Burn, Image Union, the 90s show and history of video art and independent media in Chicago
•    Deep Dish TV/Free Speech Network and Link TV
•    Public journalism, citizen journalism, ‘corporate’ journalism, blogging, editing, ethics, branding…
•    Get trained and start or participate in a show on CAN TV
•    Guerilla marketing and promotional tactics on Youtube, Myspace—see Barbie and Barbie Liberation Army—Do your own campaign.
•    Documentary film and Kartemquin—funding/producing and political history

Guerilla Media–Blogging…

•January 24, 2008 • 2 Comments

Welcome to my first blog entry ever, inspired by the course I am teaching on Guerilla Media at Loyola University Chicago.   I am immediately stunned by how this moment integrates the emotions of performing on stage, writing in my journal, and scheduling Fall 08 courses (which I should be doing instead of this…)  Dancing in the Nutcracker pales in comparison, though…

Let’s  start with this page’s topic–creating blogs on guerilla media and finding shared interests.  I want students to post their ideas for their blogs on my site, and then, we’ll let democracy and interactivity do their thing…

The Guerilla Media course will cover the histories of several community media categories:  public access and indy TV; community, public and pirate radio; blogs and global internet access; guerilla marketing; digital storytelling; participatory media and fan culture.

I want my students to post their blogging interests related to media/technology:

Here’s what I’m interested in:

Digital Storytelling

Collaborative Storytelling

Birth of new medium for storytelling.

Body movement around, in front of, and represented in new technology–e.g., gaming and body movement (or lack of it).

Regulatory and political future of media access–internet, TV, radio.

How editorial practices and corporate branding techniques impact what stories get told.  Do old models work?  Do we want them too?  Who wins?  Who loses here…?

Performance art and the internet.

Art on screens.  Screens in museums.  In installations.

Presidential elections and media exhaustion

Third Party presidential candidates.  Is Ralph Nader online?  Is the Green party?

Post your interests….Include everything from jewelry making to pumping iron to post-modern humanism, and then let’s think about how the media or new technology have an impact on them.

Let’s see if this works now…..

elizabeth coffman