Meeting Joe Bageant at the National Conference for Media Reform

I’m attending the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis the next couple of days. The conference began four years ago and has evolved into a significant grassroots gathering that helps sustain a movement of media activists. They are concerned about reforming public policy regulating media and taking a proactive role in creating open, accessible media for all people in the future.

It’s a mix of idealism and pragmatism that’s always a wonder to me. Those who lead this movement are gifted, skilled and passionate about the value of media and its influence on our quality of life.

While the event focuses on U.S. media it increasingly identifies the importance of global media and how they connect with poverty, the environment, health and economics, among other things.

The highlight of the first day (so far) was an unexpected meeting with Joe Bageant, the author of “Deer Hunting with Jesus,” which I have referred to in this blog. I’ve also linked to Joe’s website. He’s one of the most perceptive people writing today who understands poor whites and working class folks.

I put him alongside Tex Sample as a clear voice who can help us understand how we have lost touch with a substantial group of people whom we should be communicating with, listening to, advocating for and working with.

I’ve long said mainline churches abandoned these folks and left them to exploitation by the religious right. It’s time to turn that around and Joe and Tex have the insight to help us find the way to do it.

For straightforward critique and sympathetic understanding of the people and the challenges we need to take up to engage with them, you can’t do better than read the works of these two.

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