Phoenix March Against Mainstream Media protesters gathered outside of Fox 10 studios on Adams Street and Fifth Avenue and marched the seven blocks to Channel 12 on Saturday afternoon.
Activists across the United States and United Kingdom interested in participating in the Anonymous-organized March Against Mainstream Media were encouraged to self-organize and convene at the site of a local major news network.
The protest was scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Saturday. Darris “Rex” Mikl, a full-time activist from Phoenix living off of Social Security benefits, was deeply involved in the movement, acting as an unofficial organizer and setting up the Facebook event that was meant to get the word out about the protest to the Phoenix community. Like previous protests affiliated with Anonymous, the protest had no official leadership.
“(I’m here) to raise awareness that the mainstream media, for the most part, is just a bunch of rich people paying other people to lie to us, and I’m tired of it,” Mikl said. “I think that from the very conception of media it was meant to misinform and sway public opinion, and it’s only the journalists themselves that put their lives on the line a lot of the time to search out the truth and get it to the people.”
Orlando Arenas, a local community organizer who works with Puente Arizona and one of the first to show up for the protest, said he believes that the solution to the corruption of mainstream media is to encourage the growth of the independent media infrastructure.
“I think we need to rebuild independent media and stuff like that, that has the community’s interests at heart more than the mainstream media,” Arenas said. “I feel that mainstream media doesn’t put critical public interest at the forefront.”
Carlos Corral, another Puente community activist, said he agreed with his colleague. Corral said the media is “not talking about the real issues going on and that’s what media should be about,” citing incidents involving immigrants and racial profiling as not getting enough coverage in the mainstream news cycle. Arenas and Corral used their connections with Puente Arizona to get signs printed for protesters to use at the rally.
There were 20 activists total who showed up for the protest.
“More than five people is a success in my book,” Mikl said in regard to the turnout. “A lot of people are just too brainwashed and don’t care.”
Mark Schweikert, a detective sergeant from the Phoenix Police Department, followed the protesters on their march through the city, always staying a block away. Schweikert was accompanied by two other unseen detectives, shadowing their movements from just across the street. The team of detectives that he supervises is mainly in charge of managing protected speech activities like protests, “to make sure that there isn’t a breach of the peace and everybody’s safe.”
“We’re here as objective observers to make sure that nobody gets hurt because, depending on the topic, they end up being controversial issues that people may not agree with the viewpoint, so you want to make sure that they can demonstrate peacefully without fear of harm,” Schweikert said.
ASU sophomore Frank Molina, an international business student at the West campus, attended the protest to fulfill a civic engagement requirement for his comparative politics class. He chose the rally because he saw it as a valuable branch of “community participation” through something he felt strongly about.
“I don’t trust news corporations at all,” Molina said. “No matter what, you still find bias in the news, but I feel like especially in American news the bias is just so blown out of proportion and it’s just ridiculous. … You either have ultraconservative news or ultraliberal news, and there’s no middle ground to allow you to form your own opinion. You’re just being bombarded with other people’s opinions.”
Another member of the ASU community who participated in the march was Cronkite school alumnus Joe Decarlo. After his 2008 graduation from ASU, Decarlo got a job with Clear Channel radio, where he remained for a full year before quitting after deciding that Clear Channel, along with other forms of mainstream media, are “just a brainwashing machine.”
“The truth is not being told, and while some of us might be awake to it, most people aren’t,” he said.
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Correction: Nov. 18, 2013
A previous version of this article attributed a quotation from Darris “Rex” Mikl to Carlos Corral. The attribution has been updated with the proper name.