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Building our own media alternatives

The corporate media empire have too much power. Not just power but increasingly political influence. We need to break out and build our own media alternatives... this social reporting pilot project is a good start.

We are too reliant on the mainstream media. Any campaigner will tell you that it is essential to send out a press release to the mainstream media when organising a protest or any kind of event. It would be foolish not to – by disengaging with the mainstream media you would be missing out on an entire audience – an entire nation potentially waiting to hear your story. And that is part of the problem. The mainstream media needs us but at the moment we also need them too.

Like many across the country I love reading the Guardian on a Saturday morning with a cup of tea. But one thing I recognise is that although better than most news outlets, the Guardian are definitely not on our side – they need to be swept aside too. Take climate change for example. Most would agree that the Guardian have got it right on climate change and that they understand the implications and need for action. But then you turn the page and see a full page Ryanair advertisement for cheap short-haul flights. To me this highlights how the Guardian, when it comes down to it, are just another capitalist money making machine. The Guardian are so built in to the system that they will always put profits before balanced news stories and so therefore cannot be on our side.

Any transition to a new world has got to involve radically addressing and reclaiming our media. This is why I am most excited about taking part in this social reporting pilot. Independent platforms such as this, Indymedia, the Manchester Mule and Schnews are some examples which have started to re-evaluate how and why we do media – but we need to build them up.
Just Do It – the new climate change documentary is another good example. The film shows a journey activists went on from being worried about climate change and simply wanting to ‘bring down emissions’, to a position where they see capitalism as the system perpetuating climate change. What was different about this film was that that it was made possible through crowd funding and hours of volunteering. This was important because the message of the film matched with the ideals on which it was made.

This weekend just gone London hosted the Rebellious Media Conference, a gathering which aimed to explore “inspiring examples of radical media practice and to further develop radical critiques of the mainstream media.” Post Murdoch hacking scandal this conference couldn't have come at a better time. A hot topic for debate at the conference was inevitably social-media and the digital revolution. #Arab Spring and #OccupyWallStreet are just two examples of how social-media is re-framing how news is told to the world. Twitter and Facebook have definitely revolutionised our ways of doing media but how much we can trust these new forms of media is debatable.

Although we use it as a tool we cannot rely on the mainstream media as a means to getting our media out. When it comes down to it the powers we are fighting against have more media control than we do – some of them own the media after all. So what can we do instead? “10 steps to a hard hitting action media team” (published by some ex climate campers) advise this:

  • Communicating to other groups in the movement through your website, social-media, meetings/gatherings/conferences and through existing networks.
  • Produce your own media: news-sheets, e-mail bulletins, blogs, zines
  • Use independent media to distribute and get news. Check out: Occupulse, Indymedia, Manchester Mule, SchNews, Dissident Island, Reelnews


Mark Watson's picture

becoming the media

Great post, Joe. Really heartening. Especially given that the apparent omnipotence of the Mainstream (media or anything) can sometimes be a downer. You put Becoming the Media (Tools for Transition #13) and this Social Reporting project right in the picture! And woke me up to a lot of the reasons why I'm engaged in it (and not on my own!). Thanks.

Ed Mitchell's picture

That's why we're here

you put your finger on it :)

I was at the Rebellious Media conference, mostly to see Noam Chomsky, and he said "the radicals' priority has to be getting into popular consciousness".