By Sonja Puzic
If you have an important message to share with Torontonians but think that few will ever hear you, you might be interested in what Jason Diceman has to say.
Diceman, who spent four years at Ryerson’s radio and television arts program, says that he’s sick of spending time learning how to produce media that sells products, instead of creating what the public really wants to hear and see.
Although it appears that people have a variety of television channels, radio shows and newspapers to choose from, Diceman says those choices are still controlled by commercialism and are therefore limited. “Basically, you have a menu, but you can’t cook for yourself,” he says. “Everyone’s sick of the soundbyte garbage.”
In trying to make mainstream media more accessible to the public, Diceman became an organizer for Media Democracy Day, held yearly on Oct. 18. His contribution to the event is the Democratic Poster Project, intended to get messages that citizens have for their community into the public forum.
Not many people have time to create, print and put up a poster bearing their own message, so Diceman’s concept is to do two-thirds of the work for them. Anybody can create a poster and submit it to www.pubcomm.org, and Diceman will choose as many as possible to print and post in downtown Toronto — an attempt to give people control of one small aspect of the Toronto Media.
RyeACT co-ordinator Alex Lisman, who is also an organizer for Media Democracy Day, said that Dicemen’s project is an important step in freeing mainstream media from corporate hands.
“The aim is raise awareness of how corporate media extinguishes voices,” he said. “It’s so important to involve people directly in the production of independent media.”
Diceman was first introduced to the media democracy movement when he attended a workshop at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto in March 2002. The workshop inspired Jason to develop the poster project and design a Web site to promote the need for a critical outlook on today’s media network.
As an RTA student, Diceman learned to produce for the mainstream media, an experience that he feels made the creation of this project something special.
“It’s media without selling,” he says. “The display of posters will be like a gallery of art.”
The second annual Media Democracy Day has attained a cult-like following across Canada, as more people became intrigued by the message is hopes to convey — one that fiercely protests corporate, commercialized mass media and insists that a democratic media system should give all members of society an equal opportunity to exchange information and raise important issues.
Diceman is very critical of mainstream media and belives hat regular people should be given a chance to critique it. He believes that critical debate and thoughtful deliberation of issues are necessary to challenge the carefully processed media messages — the “soundbyte garbage” — we are bombarded with on a daily basis.
Diceman point out that although the RTA program at Ryerson “does teach every well,” he was not completely satisfied with its content.
“RTA teaches people how to manufacture media,” Diceman says, adding that he had a problem with its focus on the mechanical approach to radio and television and the lack of references to ethical issues.
“Ethics should be the core of all education,” he says. “A part of every project, every assignment.”
He also encourages current RTA and journalism students at Ryerson to read about any issue that interests them and investigate beyond what is published in print or shown on television. “Don’t just accept the soundbyte,” Diceman advises.