Independent media producers, students, local activists and community groups will be celebrated next week during Independent Media Week, organized around the theme “A well-informed citizenry is a cornerstone of democracy.” This will be the 13th year for the week spotlighting grassroots media and its creators.

The locally sourced event began in April 2005 when, at the request of citizen media activists who launched KSKQ, the local low-power FM radio station, and developed the Rogue Valley Independent Media Center, the city of Ashland proclaimed its first Independent Media Week to celebrate efforts to make public records more readily accessible and to broadcast our community meetings and civic events.

Every year since, a coalition of local independent media organizations has asked the city to proclaim one week in April as “Independent Media Week.” And, in 2015, a bill introduced by then-Rep. Peter Buckley passed the Oregon legislature and was signed into saw declaring the third week of April each year "as Independent Media Week to encourage all Oregonians to seek out and explore the rich diversity of independent media available to and within their communities." 

This year's celebration runs Sunday through Saturday, April 9 to 15. It includes discussions, workshops and a presentation by Project Censored director Mickey Huff.

On Sunday, April 9, there will be an open house breakfast from 10 a.m. to noon at the KSKQ 89.5/94.1 FM community radio station studio at 330 East Hersey St., No. 2, in Ashland. The public can meet producers and staff, learn more about KSKQ and enjoy a light breakfast.

There will be a panel discussion on "Cultivating a Culture of Peace in an Era of Trump: What's the Media's Role?" from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, April 10, in the Arena downstairs at Stevenson Union on the campus of Southern Oregon University.

Local media representatives and the audience will discuss whether and how the media should play a role in advancing goals advocated by the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ACPC), including transforming attitudes, behaviors and institutions so they better foster harmonious relationships, particularly in time when the information landscape has been roiled by new national leadership with its own way of doing things.

Panel members are Jeff Golden, producer and host of Immense Possibilities on select PBS stations; Bert Etling, editor of the Ashland Daily Tidings; Jason Houk, publisher of the Rogue Valley Community Press and news director for KSKQ community radio; and Hannah Jones, editor of The Siskiyou, the Southern Oregon University student-run news website.

David Wick, executive director of the ACPC, will say a few words about the work of the commission. Also joining the conversation via a video link will be Dr. David Adams, the coordinator of the Culture of Peace News Network and former UNESCO director of the International Year for the Culture of Peace, proclaimed for the Year 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly, who will provide an international perspective on the Culture of Peace and the vital role media plays in its evolution.

“Critical Media Literacy Education: The Antidote to ‘Fake' News, Media Filters, and Propaganda in a 'Post-Truth’ World" is the focus of a lecture by Mickey Huff, director of Project Censored, who will speak at 6 p.m. Friday, April 14, in the Arena at Stevenson Union.

Huff is director of Project Censored, founded in 1976, and president of the Media Freedom Foundation. He has edited or co-edited eight volumes of "Censored" and contributed numerous chapters to these works dating back to 2008. Huff sits on the advisory board for the Media Literacy and Digital Culture graduate program at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, and serves on the editorial board for the journal Secrecy and Society. He also represents Project Censored as one of the cosponsoring organizations for the National Whistleblowers Summit held annually in Washington, D.C.

Another highlight of Independent Media Week is presentation of the Hal Jamison Independent Media Award. Jamison was a long-time Ashland resident and supporter of independent, community media. This award is dedicated in his honor and showcases a community member who is dedicating their time and energy to support our independent media resources.

Independent Media Week sponsors include KSKQ 89.5/94.1 Community Radio, the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission, Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice and the UN Club of SOU. For more information, call Jason Houk at 541-841-8341.