Reporters of Hope

A holiday dream has come true!  I read a newspaper today in which all the stories and features were about solutions to the problems we face.  Don’t rush to pick up The New York Times or The Washington Post or even The San Francisco Examiner. Today’s special edition of the major French newspaper, Libération, is [...]

Finding Superwoman

The title of “Waiting for ‘Superman” comes from a memory of Geoffrey Canada, the founder of the non-profit educational support service,  Harlem Children’s Zone.  Canada, who grew up in poverty in the South Bronx, says “One of the saddest days of my life was when my mother told me Superman did not exist. She thought [...]

Storytelling with photos and sales

Have you heard that a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, it’s a cheesy adage but also true. We’ve seen a troubling trend in the news industry lately, which is that newsroom budgets are shrinking. Photojournalists are getting cut. Don’t be a victim of the disappearing newsroom: supply your own photos to accompany your [...]

Let Freedom Ring

Have you been glued to Al Jazeera and Twitter like us, following the quickly evolving events in Egypt and the Middle East? At Massey Media, we had an up close and personal view to Egypt’s history as it unfolded. Last year, we had the great honor of working with the Solidarity Center to broadcast its [...]

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You Got a Bailout, a St. Louis Family Got a Kick Out

Aimee Roysten of St. Louis doesn’t know where she will go if the bank forecloses on her home. She is like many people in the U.S. having a hard time in today’s economic crisis. Roysten has three young children and a husband who works in trucking. When three family members passed in rapid succession over the last few years, the family found it hard to make ends meet. They went to their bank and requested a loan modification. Two years later, after countless meetings, and with fines compounding on the mortgage, the bank has denied the modification. Even though the Roysten family can now make the payments, the bank has started foreclosure on the Royston home.

St. Louis family facing foreclosure

That bank is Bank of America. And Bank of America has a bad record on foreclosures of forcing people out of their homes. According to Midwest Rising: Convergence 2011, Bank of America is foreclosing on hundreds of families without following proper procedures. Bank of America paid no federal taxes last year and continues to receive subsidies and tax breaks that are causing budget deficits and cuts in vital services, such as Social Security and Medicare.

What do you do when the bank won’t meet you half way? What do you do when you learn your bank has one of the worst records on loan modifications? If you are like the Roysten family, you find allies and get creative.

In support of families like the Roysten family, St. Louis community members are pulling their money out and closing their accounts at Bank of America. Will Taylor is one of them. “We always talk about Robin Hood, who stole from the rich to give to the poor. Bank of America is hood robbin’, stealing from the poor and giving to the rich,” says Taylor, a member of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment.

On August 12, Taylor joined a dozen St. Louis community members who attempted to close their accounts at a downtown Bank of America branch. And joining them were nearly 200 supporters from all over the country as part of Midwest Rising: Convergence 2011. They called for community members to invest in local banks and credit unions.

When Taylor, the Roysten family, community members and activists approached the Bank of America, they were met with a blockade of wooden horses and a dozen security officers, including the police. The bank denied access to their own customers and wouldn’t let anyone in. No one closed their bank account on Friday.

While the bankers might think they succeeded in protecting their business, they exposed their greed. They called the police against their own customers and tried to create a sense of fear. But the image of a big bank putting up barricades against community members like Taylor and Roysten shows their true intention, which is to shut down any communication and shut out anyone who calls them on their bad practices.

And that inspires more people to join the struggle for justice.

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Massey Media June Update

June 16, 2011 Arts, Be Seen

At Massey Media in June, we’re grappling with one of life’s most pressing issues: how can a community bounce back and overcome disasters? What makes people come together to rebuild, and how can that be done in a way that honors the culture and heritage of the people who lived before and through the bad times? In short, how does a community build its own resiliency? Cultural workers will tell you the answer lies in celebrating a community’s arts and culture.

We were invited into this important conversation this year by Alternate ROOTS and CultureWorks to help them get out the word about a groundbreaking celebration of arts and culture, ROOTS Fest: Many Communities, One Voice. Over five days next week, the Baltimore community will celebrate its cultural heritage and participate in art that seeks to transform. The local focus of the festival is West Baltimore, where a failed 1.4 mile highway project that abruptly ends at a parking lot tore a thriving community apart. While the festival is local, its implications are national: it seeks to create a road map for other communities to follow towards overcoming their own natural or man-made disasters.

Please join us at ROOTS Fest, Many Communities, One Voice next week in Baltimore. We’d love to see you participate in the dialogue and enjoy the arts. ROOTS Fest is exactly the reason we at Massey Media do what we do. We seek to empower by amplifying communities’ voices.

For more, please read today’s coverage of ROOTS Fest in the Baltimore Sun, Roots Fest hopes to bring a sense of community to West Baltimore.

Thank you for your support and please call on Massey Media for your communications needs.

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Massey Media April Update

At Massey Media, we have been busy all April working to give voice to those promoting a sustainable, free and empowered world.

Earth Day ~ sustainable fashion
On Earth Day, April 22, we were reminded that sustainability can look fabulous, darling. Our friends at Proxy Apparel in Boston hosted a spring fashion gala that showed we can look great and know our purchasing supports good jobs. Proxy will be coming to DC on May 7 for a trunk show and you are invited. Please see the Facebook invite.

Biomass Accountability Project ~ promoting clean and green energy
“Somebody’s got to stand up for these children.” These were the words of Robert Hughes, who lives 300 yards away from the site of a proposed biomass incineration power plant, which will be across the street from an elementary school with hundreds of children. Biomass incineration emits toxins that are known to cause asthma and heart and lung disease, and they deplete our forests to meet energy demands. Massey Media has been giving voice to local community groups working to oppose biomass incineration in Wisconsin, Florida, Massachusetts, Washington state and more. We’ve been reaching out to the press to let them know that clean energy doesn’t come from a smokestack.

Roots Fest 2011

ROOTS Fest ~ a festival of healing, unity and empowerment
We are two months away from ROOTS Fest in Baltimore. The festival is a celebration of how art and culture connects communities and creates resiliency. For five days in June, tens of thousands of people will make history at ROOTS Fest. The first three days will be a national dialogue on arts, culture and creativity. For the free outdoor festival, nationally-renowned artists, performers and the Baltimore community will take over the 52 acres of green space that sits atop the “Highway to Nowhere,” and fill it with new life, color and music. ROOTS Fest will serve as an example for other communities around the country who face the same challenges as West Baltimore.

Edgeworks Dance Theater ~ movement to break stereotypes
We are very pleased to be the public relations sponsors of the Edgeworks Dance Theater’s 10th Anniversary Gala on May 5. Edgeworks Dance Theater is Washington, DC’s premier all male contemporary dance company of predominately African-American men. Edgeworks Dance Theater aims to break down stereotypes through dance, utilizing a spectrum of performances, choreographic and teaching styles, reflecting the diversity of experiences and perspectives of both its members and guest artists. Please support this amazing group and purchase tickets here.

At Massey Media, we partner with social justice and socially responsible organizations to take their messages to the press and to the world. Please call on us to help broadcast your vision of a healthy planet, human rights, creativity and freedom.

- Sarah Massey

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Massey Media March Update

Wow. This spring is simply groundbreaking. From the daily protests in the Middle East to union mobilizing in the Midwest, the news of the day is revolutionary.

We at Massey Media seek to raise the voices of peace and justice. We do this by promoting stories of change and empowerment. Over the past weeks, we’ve helped to organize protests in DC to keep the spotlight on the anti-democratic, anti-union legislation in Wisconsin. We marshaled the press at a protest of a DC fundraiser for Wisconsin Republican Senators, which included hundreds of union supporters flooding into the building that held the posh fundraiser and occupying the lobby for more than an hour.

As we look both locally and globally, Massey Media is pleased to announce our partnership with the arts organization, Sulu DC. Named after Sulu of Star Trek (the first Asian American character in space) and a remote island in the Philippines, Sulu DC is an underground, grassroots network and home for Asian and Pacific Islander artists. Massey Media offers the organization communications and public relations support to build its capacity. Sulu DC is screening a film on Burmese political prisoners, featuring a famous Burmese comedian Zarganar, next week. Please join us Wednesday, March 30 at 6:00 PM at Artisphere for the U.S. premiere of “This Prison Where I Live” (Directed by Rex Bloomstein). More here: http://suludc.com/

If you’ve stopped by the office or our social media recently, you’ve been touched by our excitement about an amazing new project we’re helping to promote, ROOTS Fest: Many Communities, One Voice. Using art, culture and celebration, this festival will unite and empower the neighborhoods of West Baltimore, a historically marginalized community. Please save the dates of June 22 – June 26 and join us in Baltimore for this inspiring national celebration. http://rootsfest2011.org/

Thank you! Please keep in touch and let us know what new projects you are working on! And, of course, please call on us, if you seek to raise your voice to empower social change and justice.

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We Are All Wisconsin

February 24, 2011 Union Movement

“We Are All Wisconsin” was the message at protests across the country in support of workers’ struggles in Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s new governor is trying to strip the right of workers to collectively bargain. Tens of thousands of Wisconsinites have been protesting in the state capital over the last two weeks. (See our blog post about it here.)

On Wednesday, we joined the DC actions outside the offices of the infamous union-busters Koch Industries and then marched to the Wisconsin governor’s office on Capitol Hill. There, we met thousands of workers and union representatives in a chorus of support for protecting the right to form unions in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and around the world. Check out my home video with a cameo of Lacy on the bullhorn and my pic at the end. The song “Which Side Are You On?” is written by Florence Reece and sung by Pete Seeger.



For more background on why people are taking to the streets, please see this excellent column from Harold Meyerson at the Washington Post here and The New York Times opinion here.

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Let Freedom Ring

Let Freedom Ring

Have you been glued to Al Jazeera and Twitter like us, following the quickly evolving events in Egypt and the Middle East? At Massey Media, we had an up close and personal view to Egypt’s history as it unfolded. Last year, we had the great honor of working with the Solidarity Center to broadcast its groundbreaking report (pdf) on the struggles of workers in Egypt. We booked Egyptian labor organizers and experts with interviews at BBC, Reuters and The New York Times. We held a special briefing for the Wall Street Journal in the Solidarity Center offices, across the street from the White House. We shook the hands of the people who have led their great country to a new day of freedom. Massey Media’s efforts landed the Egyptian struggle on the front page of The New York Times international section last April. And, the coverage of the recent events have cited the Solidarity Center data again and again.

While we celebrate the victories of the Egyptian people, we still have a lot of work to do, even here at home. For example, workers’ rights are under attack in Wisconsin, where a new governor seeks to overturn the right to collectively bargain. The freedom to join a union is recognized internationally as a fundamental human right, like other basic freedoms such as freedom of religion and the right to work free from discrimination based on race, gender or age. Today, the labor movement’s friend, Washington Post Columnist Harold Meyerson, has tied together the international struggle for workers’ rights in his piece, “Workers toppled a dictator in Egypt, but might be silenced in Wisconsin.”

At Massey Media, we partner with social justice and socially responsible organizations to take their messages to the press and to the world. Please call on us to help broadcast your vision of a healthy planet, human rights and freedom.

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Compassion in a Time of Darkness

January 10, 2011 Make Headlines

Everyone in my parents’ generation knows where they were in the moments they learned that President Kennedy was killed and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. They will recall these dark days for our nation with remarkable detail. On Saturday afternoon, I was eating vegetable noodle soup in a Chinese restaurant in downtown DC, waiting to see “The Fighter” film, checking my Twitter account, when I read that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and many innocent bystanders had been brutally attacked. In a rapid succession of Tweets, I also then learned that right wingers had their “crosshairs set on Giffords” and she had been threatened in her office. The crosshairs language was all over websites, campaign ads and media coverage. I felt sick. Could it be that some delusional person had been influenced by this rhetoric? It seems that nightmare vision is coming true. On Saturday, our generation experienced political assassination.

I feel compelled to write about my experience of this attack. Why? This terrorism hits very close to home: I’m in DC where we also had mail bombs this week, I work in media relations for progressives who are in “the crosshairs” of the right wing, during the 2008 elections while working on voting rights, I received threatening phone calls and my colleagues have received death threats. (This morning, I learned that Patricia Maisch, who is being called a hero for helping to stop the attacker, is the mother of a friend. She is doing well.)

And, what you may not know about me is that I too was a victim of terrorists, when I survived the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. I know fear. I intimately understand the fear that delusional people are trying to spread when they conduct these political attacks. They seek to make us cower and to silence us.

This is my generation’s moment, and how we will be judged by history will be written by our response to Saturday’s attack. I will not be silenced. I will be courageous and peace-loving. I will spread love and compassion.

Our nation’s strongest champion of love and compassion was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Next week, we celebrate his birthday. At this time, he would call on us to be courageous and to embrace all humans with love and compassion. He would ask us to choose peace versus revenge. It was the “eye for an eye” mentality after 9/11 that led us to two wars in the Middle East. We see now our actions have made the terror situation much worse for all of us.

Dr. King, and tens of thousands of civil rights workers, led our country out of the darkness of segregation. They faced a large swath of the American population that feared inclusion. Bigots viewed our country as not having enough to share and they lived in a place of scarcity. But, Dr. King and the civil rights workers saw things very differently. They saw the possibility of a world of abundance for all people, regardless of race; and, it was their vision that, of course, won the day. They did it with peace.

Today, we face a similar moment of opposing visions of who we are and what we can be. Our country is involved in two seemingly never-ending wars, we have high unemployment, we have environmental and infrastructure degradation, we have Wall Street run amok with greed and there is not enough health care resources for all of us. Americans, regardless of their politics, are scared and nervous. It is a trying time.

Politicians, pundits and the media have preyed on this fear for political and financial gain. These are supposed to be institutions that we trust. Instead, the former Governor of Alaska set her “crosshairs” on members of Congress she did not agree with, a top “news” figure advocates violence and a Tea Party candidate throws a shooting party.  Giffords spoke out against this language. In terms of legislation, we see anti-immigrant laws being considered by states across the country, a heated debate on citizenship and a large group of people who think President Obama is not an American. In a time when people are scared, we have a group of Americans who are pointing fingers at “the other.” It’s a confluence of greed and fear in which our modern media cooperates.

But, there is another vision of the nation from those of us who see possibilities. We do not live in a place of fear and scarcity. We live in a place of abundance. We live to be compassionate and empowered.

I see the world around me as a positive work in progress, and I tell stories that reflect, uplift and empower. We make good headlines that show what is possible: a whole community reading together, DC youth go door-to-door to introduce inner-city communities to green products and Egyptian workers come together to advocate for good pay. We believe that the press has a role as the fourth estate, we believe in freedom of speech, which is why we work with the press and seek to hold it accountable.

For me, there is no “fight” to be had with the politicians, pundits, media or extremists. This fight is over. We’ve had a lot of fighting and look where that got us. Peace is the goal and it is also the tactic.

It’s time to vision inclusion. We can help do that by giving voice to the voiceless. We can empower people to be seen and heard for the good they do for each other.

From examining her voting record, I believe Congresswoman Giffords lives in a country of abundance. She voted to give more unemployment insurance assistance to those Americans out of work, she voted to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that kept people who are gay from serving in the military and she voted for the Dream Act to allow young people to pursue higher education. She voted for health care reform to bring coverage to more people.

Today, we have our moment to overcome as a people. We can select our vision for our country and for ourselves. Let us celebrate and honor Congresswoman Giffords and Dr. King by tuning out the rhetoric and tuning in compassion.

- Sarah Massey

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The Magic of the Melting Pot: Immigration in America

January 3, 2011 Arts, Immigration

You are invited!

An important new art exhibit is coming to the Studio Gallery this January. Please join me in celebrating the works of immigrant artists. “The Magic of the Melting Pot: Immigration in America” exhibit opens on January 5 and runs through January 29, 2011. Painters, pacifists, revolutionists and dreamers have all contributed to the beauty of art and culture in America. This show features the diverse work of artists all informed by or influenced by the immigrant experience.

What: “The Magic of the Melting Pot: Immigration in America” Exhibit
Where: Studio Gallery, 2108 R Street NW, Dupont Circle (Metro: Dupont Circle)
When: Exhibitions: January 5 – January 29, 2011
Opening Reception, Friday January 7, 6 – 9pm
Author Talk: Steve Roberts, Wednesday January 12, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
Artist Panels January 19 and 20th: 7 – 9 p.m.

“Immigrants enrich our culture over and over again,” says Studio Gallery Director Adah Rose Bitterbaum. “They are writers, poets, musicians, chefs, scientists, nurses and some of the most talented and motivated people. Here at Studio Gallery, we applaud creativity through this exhibition, showcasing 14 diverse and talented artists from every corner of the world.”

Coming from all over the world, the artists include Shahla Arbabi, Joan Belmar, Jon Benjamin, Graham Boyle, Susan Cho, Natalie Guerrieri, Esther Hidalgo, Juan Hernandez, Linda Hesh, Cesar Maxit, Favianna Rodriguez, Lou Stovall, Aniekan Udofia, Solomon Wondimu. The artwork in the exhibition spans many movements in art including painting, printmaking, installation, mixed media and photography. From the political posters of Favianna Rodriguez and Cesar Maxit to the quiet traditional Korean Pojagi of Susan Cho, from the paintings using iconic images of Joan Belmar to the activist mixed media paintings of Shahla Arbabi, all the artists interpret their heritage, create a shared identity and present their experience of living in the United States.

- Sarah Massey

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Massey Media’s New Year’s Resolution for 2011

Massey Media’s resolution for 2011 is to work with you to find and to broadcast solutions to the multiple harms caused by injustice. We will provide information and tell stories to help people achieve health, freedom, creativity and economic sustainability. We will find ways to live greener everyday, in every way, from helping you to find healthy skin care to supporting green businesses. We’ll host a space and place for women business owners to network and workshop their issues. Together with our clients, we will tell stories that reflect and uplift, like teenagers greening the ghetto and how immigrants contribute to the arts. We will spotlight the growing movement at the intersection of activism and the arts. As always, we support labor rights and you’ll see us advocating side by side with workers to gain justice at the workplace.

We look forward to working with you in 2011 to help tell the stories of empowerment.

- Sarah Massey

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Our Five Top Stories of 2010

December 31, 2010 Massey Media Toolkit


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Massey Media’s Blog

Own the Press was founded on the belief that news makes things happen, and you can make your own news. The big vision is that the world needs more good news to create positive change. Own the Press has three purposes:  
1. To give you the tools to makes your own news.  
2. To give you examples of good journalism.
3. To bring you good news.

You will find articles on how to own the press (tactics) in the Massey Media Toolkit.  We have organized examples of using these tactics under five rubrics.
1. Be Seen demonstrates the necessity and power of the visual.
2. Make Headlines is how to create news.
3. Place Opinions is an important, but often overlooked, way of owning the press.
4. Create Buzz Online illustrates the many ways to grow your audience.  
4.Tell Your Story is really the first and most basic skill you need to own the press.

We are glad that you have joined us in this endeavor. Together, we can change the world, one headline at a time.

Have an idea for a post? Please email us info(at)massey-media.com. THANKS!

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