About Us

 

Media Burn recognizes the power of documentary to change the way we understand the world around us. That’s why it is our mission to preserve our shared cultural history on analog videotape and make it available for generations to come.

 

The Media Burn Independent Video Archive has been a dream for nearly 40 years. It was founded in 2003 by Tom Weinberg as the culmination of his lifelong dedication to creating broad access to the work of independent producers. The Archive contains over 6,000 videotapes created by a geographically, socially, and economically diverse community of videomakers throughout the world.The central focus of the archive is a unique collection of Chicago-based independent video—the most extensive of its kind anywhere. The collection portrays life in Chicago from 1969-2012, documenting all corners of the city and people from all walks of life. Our hero is Studs Terkel, whose ability to portray the stories of “ordinary” people is our model. We are lucky to have several hundred videos featuring Studs, donated from his personal collection.

 

Our Story

The Media Burn Archive was founded in 2003 by Tom Weinberg after a 40-year-long career producing documentaries and being a major advocate for independent producers. In 1978, he created the show “Image Union,” which brought the work of independent film and videomakers to a Chicago television audience for the first time. His programs have won four Emmy awards, a Silver Circle lifetime achievement award from the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and he shared in a duPont-Columbia University journalism award as a member of TVTV.

“Media Burn” was the name of a remarkable 1975 countercultural event by San Francisco-based art and architecture group, ANT FARM. Curtis Schreier, Chip Lord, Doug Michels, and Uncle Buddy took responsibility for a modified 1959 Cadillac Biarritz convertible smashing through a wall of burning television sets in the Cow Palace parking lot. Doug Hall appeared as President Kennedy.

This site was, in no small way, inspired by that classic Ant Farm event and video. The first use of the phrase “Media Burn” was in a monograph and book proposal by Tom Weinberg in 1969. It is still in process.

mediaburn.org is a project of the Fund for Innovative TV, a 501(c)3 nonprofit and Chicago-based producers of quality alternative nonfiction video including The 90’s and Chicago Slices.

The creation of this site, including database, archiving, digitizing, website design and grunt work has been a labor of love, nurtured by Tom Weinberg, Sara Chapman, Carolyn Faber, Eric Kramer, and the contributions, mostly voluntary, from dozens more.

 

Our People

Our Board of Directors:

Chair, Tom Weinberg (CV)
Vice President, Thea Flaum
Secretary, Dee Davis
Treasurer, Eric Kramer

Member, Elizabeth Coffman
Member, Peter Grosz
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Executive Director: Sara Chapman

Website development by Michael Cannon, Aihrus

 

Our Supporters

In addition to these government and foundation sources, we have flourished over the last nine years due to the generous support of nearly 200 individuals.

Join them today and pledge your support for documentaries that change the way we think.

NHPRC

National Endowment for the Humanities

Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation

Illinois Arts Council

Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
Arts Work Fund
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Arts and Business Council of Chicago