By Katia Protsenko

Amanda Paulson is fasting.

It’s not for political reasons, which was an initial guess as she is a volunteer at Santa Cruz’s Independent Media Center (IMC). Indybay, the Bay Area’s main web-based IMC, is thriving in Santa Cruz’s politically active community. A volunteer since the summer of 2006, Paulson, 26, helps create content for the website, conducts media outreach, and hosts seminars that teach community members around the Bay Area how to take advantage of the Indymedia website. Paulson discussed Indybay, and the global Indymedia collective, with City on a Hill Press.

City on a Hill Press (CHP): How did you get involved with Indymedia?

Amanda Paulson (AP): Some friends and I were organizing events around town and we realized that the [Indybay website’s] calendar was really important if you wanted people to come to your event. I got involved by being a user on the site and then I needed a place to put some volunteer energy. [Indymedia is] all volunteer-based, so you can really participate however you want to. Personally, I do more contributions to the site.

CHP: How is the IMC organization structured?

AP: We are just a collective of volunteers. We don’t have any specific legal status or anything, our site is all run by donation, and we don’t have an office. We work on e-mail most of the time. Santa Cruz folks work really closely with the Bay Area folks.

CHP: Do you collaborate with other IMCs?

AP: The Bay Area is a pretty strong IMC, and we have a good working relationship with a lot of other [IMCs]. People talk to each other. There’s collaboration between the U.S. and all other sites. We also host sites for places where they might not have the resources, like Bolivia, because we have server space — it’s cheap and it’s available.

CHP: Are the people who post on Indymedia activists or journalists first?

AP: It really depends on the person, I think it goes both ways. Activist first, most of the time. People who care about getting important issues out to the public. They’re doing it because Indymedia is a way to present a side of the story that’s not being presented often.

CHP: Are you an activist first or a journalist first?

AP: It’s a fine line, but I got involved because I cared, and I’d have to say that’s still true.

CHP: Postings on Indymedia don’t have authors. Who are the people contributing to Indymedia?

AP: Most people publishing things onto Indymedia are publishing with the intent that it can be reproduced for non-commercial use.

It’s different from a traditional news source because it’s all user-generated. It’s not just the volunteers [working on the site] who are submitting content. In fact, it’s better when it’s not just them. If your issue is important and you feel the local paper is not covering your side of the story, Indymedia is a place for you to go and publish your side of the story.

We’re so decentralized, but I think that the community itself is there to support each other. You have to realize that the government doesn’t necessarily want us out there.

CHP: Do you feel supported in the local community?

AP: Yes, because people use the site. People will tell me they read the site every day. That’s really amazing and empowering. I wish more people would get involved and see the importance of [Indymedia] because it’s really about making it a community site. Put up your events, put up your information, and just use it a little bit more.

[Indymedia] has been put into a box as a news source instead of a place for you to use it, a tool for you, the community member.

CHP: What does the future hold for Indymedia?

AP: The future is certainly unwritten. There are new IMCs [forming] all the time, but IMCs are also ending all the time. What I really think is cool is that [sites] are coming up in Bolivia and in Greece. The global south is able to catch on, as they have more access to broadband and servers. Globally, I think it’s probably getting bigger. Indymedia used to be one of the first sites where you could publish something online, and now anybody can open up a blog in five minutes.

CHP: How do you get funding?

AP: We don’t, unless we ask people to donate. Last year we had our first fundraising drive, and we’ve had to do it again. We’re just asking people to help us keep the site going. We work with a nonprofit group, Media Alliance, so they’re able to handle the money and have it come back to us.

CHP: In your opinion, what purpose does media serve today?

AP: The purpose of the media is to spread news about what’s happening and the truths that people know. My belief is that there is no single truth. The more perspectives that are out there, the better. It’s the media’s role to present those things for people who aren’t going to do the investigative work themselves. To put it all together, so to speak.

_Check out the Bay Area Indymedia site at To get involved, e-mail