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Progressive Conversations Create a Sea Change

09/27/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Victoria Hopper and Jamie McGurk, co-founders of the Los Angeles based SeaChange Communications, decided that with all the progressive movers and shakers that were going to be assembled in Denver, an opportunity to create a meaningful dialogue was presenting itself.

The two activists came up with a four-day series of panels that will be sharing the Starz Green Room facility with programming by the Denver Film Society and the Impact Film Festival. Their goal was to create thought provoking presentations with thinkers of influence and expertise in the arenas of politics, media, business, and entertainment.

I had the opportunity to speak with Hopper and McGurk by telephone before the Convention got underway. They discussed their working relationship, which goes back
almost five years, and how in the spring of 2008 they decided to produce the "SeaChange
Ideas Forum." After brainstorming and getting input from a range of sources, including Progressive Strategies - a Washington D.C. based consulting firm with an "innovative" agenda -- they got their content formulated. McGurk said, "Our interest has been communications...the political brain...and bringing people together for a solution-oriented focus.

Selected panels are being live-streamed; others are available to view the following day. A complete archive of video and transcripts will be housed at the SeaChange Communications website.

Aside from the star wattage of Hollywood actors such as Ben Affleck, Kerry Washington, and
Josh Brolin, there are cutting-edge speakers taking on a spectrum of issues. An examination
of America's ethical role in "Taking Back America's Moral Authority: The Humanitarian Crisis
in Africa," moderated by Jerry Fowler (President of Save Darfur), is one of the offerings.

I caught "Who's Driving Whom? The Blogosphere vs. Mainstream Media." Arianna Huffington moderated the discourse between Jonathan Alter (Newsweek), Digby (Hullabaloo), Chris Cillizza (The Washington Post), and Greg Mafei (Liberty Media). The conversation included stabs at examining different models of journalism, questioning who is delivering the facts without spin, and the ubiquitous, venomous comments (shielded by "the cloak of anonymity") that permeate
the online community. Digby suggested that the rise of technology coincided and met with the need of people who were frustrated with main stream media; Alter was having a problem with the the "disinhibition" in the blogosphere; Huffington observed a movement towards a form of "hybrid-media."

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Hopper (who is also the Director of Women for Obama in South California) and McGurk explained that they were "very cognizant of [having] panels that reflected diversity." With the objective of building a foundation for communication, Hopper's thought that "everyone can learn from everybody else" is a point well-taken.