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Have the Mail and Express just started backing Occupy?

A strange thing happened last week. The Daily Mail ran a headline: ‘He shall not be moved!’ The issue? 200 people answered a call from a cancer sufferer to stop bailiffs evicting him.

The story was extremely positive, hailing ‘people power’ as ‘supporters stage a peaceful protest’.

Daily Mail

And it wasn’t just the Mail. The Express ran the story too, with the headline: ‘Saved from eviction by army of 200 strangers’, backed up by the caption ‘The comfort of strangers…around 200 turned up to stop bailiffs evicting Tom and Susan Crawford from their Notts home on Wednesday.’

Daily Express

So, the question is, have the right-wing press just started backing Occupy-style tactics?

Now, a couple of points. The victim of the bailiffs was a cancer sufferer, so there is a definite human-interest element to this. Secondly, it came from a YouTube request for help – and viral posts often make headlines. But there are a couple of other questions to ask: would these papers have covered the story so positively (or at all) if the resident had been a council house victim of the bedroom tax?

And, a more controversial question: if the family had not been elderly and white, but young and from ethnic minority backgrounds – or even, heaven forbid, unemployed after being made redundant – how would the papers have covered the story? Would they have covered it at all?

There’s precedent to this tactic, after all. Occupy-coordinated actions against evictions happened a lot at the movement’s peak, particularly in the US but also in the UK – and I’m pretty sure they didn’t get (glowing) coverage in these two right-wing papers. Perhaps it’s because those were victims of austerity, rather than the error of a nationalised bank – then Bradford and Bingley.

That’s not to say it’s a bad thing. It simply points to an inconsistency. The Express have been running a campaign all week (well, all their existence) against immigrants in social housing, while the Daily Mail is typically no friend of the dispossessed. Remember the Daily Mail during the Dale Farm traveller eviction case? They owned the land, but were forced out to cheers from the reactionary press. Or when 50 people were evicted from an unused UBS office block?

So have we witnessed the start of a new sympathy for those at the hard end of the housing crisis?

My guess is no. But I hope I’m wrong.

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Young Greens petition against lack of BBC coverage hits 5,000 signatures

2pm Update: an hour after posting this, the petition had reached 6000 – 1000 signatures in an hour!

9pm Update: Nearing 14000 signatures! Look out for coverage in Monday’s Morning Star newspaper…

 

A petition launched by a Young Green against the BBC’s lack of coverage of the Green Party during the elections has already received over 5000 signatures since 6pm on Saturday night. Dozens of Young Greens have also complained to the BBC directly.

 

As you will be aware, much of the coverage over the past two days has been over UKIP’s ‘breakthrough’. However, it was also a good night for the Greens, receiving an average of 9% where we stood and gaining 16 new councillors to become the official opposition in Liverpool, Solihull, Islington and Lewisham (on top of Norwich), while gaining our first representatives in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Epping Forest, Babergh and the Wirral. This means the Greens now have 162 councillors on 56 councils. Yet the publicly-funded BBC has almost entirely failed to discuss the Greens in any meaningful way – focusing on UKIP securing 17% on a low turnout, a so-called ‘political earthquake’.

 

You can view Portia Cocks’ petition here – https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/bbc-news-stop-this-media-blackout-of-the-green-party and can complain directly to the BBC here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/complain-online/

 

To see a full breakdown of Green gains in the local elections, go here.

 

Meanwhile, Greens are expecting very strong results in the European elections. I wonder how the BBC will cover it…if at all?

That Mark Duggan photo? There’s more to it than meets the eye…

You’ve probably seen this picture of Mark Duggan, the young man shot by police in London last year, in the media over the past few months.

Duggan

When featured alongside clearly negative (and misleading) articles – the intention is arguably to present him as an angry, intimidating gangster-figure.

But here’s the full picture:

Duggan 2

As you can see, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. Almost every media source crops out the key reason he looks not-entirely-happy in the photograph – he was at the grave site of his infant daughter. The only major media outlet that has used the full picture from my cursory search online was one in Ireland, The Journal.

Now, obviously news outlets always crop pictures to a certain extent, but to exclude absolutely everything from the image except his face – leaving him with only an out-of-context and seemingly menacing appearance – is manipulative and arguably bad journalism. Sections of the media – obviously primarily that of the right – have been keen to demonise Duggan since his killing, and this is just one small way of doing that.

I’ve taken this from a post shared on Facebook around a thousand times yesterday – a post that has for some reason now disappeared (correct me if I’m wrong/if it comes back):

This is the FULL VERSION of a picture used by the media to vilify #MarkDuggan. In this picture he is in a GRAVE-YARD, visiting the graveside of his infant daughter who had just died prematurely. If you look closely you will see he’s holding a granite-memorial stone in her memory.

Q: Is he supposed to be smiling in this picture?

I can’t imagine what it’s like to loose a child but i’m sure i wouldn’t be smiling about it. None the less the media seized upon this image, cropped & edited it to suit there agendas and yet never mentioned the context in which this photo was taken. Instead they used the grimaced look on his face to convict him in the public eye via a trail by media.

Empathy and the location alone tells me, this is the face of a man in mourning, nothing else. To infer anything else from this image would be mere conjecture.

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In a ‘Digital Age’, Radical Media Must Adapt

Cross-posted from my article at Left Foot Forward

I’ve never really fitted the student stereotype. After a night out I have a habit of, not buying pizza or calling long-lost friends, but subscribing to left-wing magazines. In this I’m probably alone, sadly. Far from being natural hoarders of socialist publications, most young people nowadays probably come to progressive media – if they do at all – through a parent’s copy of the Guardian – or most likely, through the internet.

Outside of the ultra-hardcore politicos I know, it’s hard to think of any young people who buy a newspaper regularly. Yet millions of people do still buy them – the leftish Daily Mirror still shifts over a million copies daily, the Sun nearly 2.3 million, and the Daily Mail almost 1.8m, with the Star, Express, Times and Telegraph each hovering above the half-million mark (and much higher for their Sunday counterparts). The youthful, liberal sister-paper of the Independent, the i, continues to grow with nearly 300,000 daily readers. Print ain’t dead yet.

That’s just the traditional rags. Political magazines are holding up surprisingly well in this supposed age of mass migration to digital. Private Eye continues to mock the Establishment with over 220,000 sales a fortnight, with The Economist and The Week close behind.  Their websites, too, are thriving, with the Guardian edging towards five million readers a day – meaning its combined online and print readership makes it the largest quality daily. It’s is a mutual relationship – paper and web.

These publications’ established following and brand names give them a firm standing to lead the way in online content. That’s partly why the New Statesman is doing so well, hitting 1.84 million visitors in August and nearly four million page views. There’s no reason why an adequately crowd-funded socialist magazine couldn’t secure the triple boost the NS has – a wider readership, rising ad revenue and more interest in the print version.

But the real issue is the role of print. Why do we still ‘do’ it?

Well, there’s aesthetics. People like holding a magazine or paper. I hate staring at screens. As someone who spends my life on the internet, reading print is a welcome break. Print is mobile. You can buy it anywhere, take it anywhere and don’t have to worry about your battery running out. You can cut an article out, stick the front cover on your wall, pen in the crossword answers and hear the rustling of turning pages. You can pull out a poster or photo, stash away a memorable article, rip out half a sports page as a bookmark. I like hearing the thud of the New Internationalist landing on the doorstep, tearing off the packaging and sitting down with a brew in the garden without worrying about LCD glare.

My own party paper, Green World, would collapse were it not sent to every member in print. It is the core of the ‘rank and file’s relationship with the party – for some their only link with the national situation, a hold-able manifestation of their membership. Greens don’t do membership cards – the mag is our party card.

And print can be beautiful and crafted in a way that a website can’t – grab a copy of the stunningly-designed and recently launched Strike! magazine if you don’t believe me. Yep, I like print.

But it’s the physical nature of the physical form that makes it truly useful. Unlike a link, you can leave it on a train, give it to a stranger or friend, and hand it out for free at demos. It acts as a hands-on platform for organising. The Morning Star, in steadfastly remaining in print, sits on news-shelves alongside the capitalist rags, offering a visible alternative. Even if they don’t buy it, every day millions across the country see the Morning Star’s main headline. It might be the only radical few lines people read that week – potentially sowing the seeds of thought that, eventually, lead someone to get active. Red Pepper and the Morning Star have also acted as mouthpieces for the anti-austerity campaign and the People’s Assembly in recent months in ways no website could alone, as has Peace News for the environmentalist and pacifist movements.

That’s because print publications offer a cohesive whole. In a world where the end of ideology is frequently proclaimed, print media offers a means to present a rare coherent viewpoint. A unified whole, a worldview. Clicking onto forty different web articles in one sitting won’t give you that.

Between the paving stones that are the fading print media giants, new radical pioneers are emerging through the cracks. Strike! magazine is blossoming through offering ground-breaking alternative journalism in an astounding visual format – and an excellent social media-friendly website. Transition Free Press, after only a few issues, is getting out to national audiences in the way a standalone website couldn’t, after being crowd-funded online through BuzzBank. The Ecologist, after shutting down its print edition, soon returned to paper after it found web-only couldn’t cut it (and now lives on in Resurgence & Ecologist).

In the US, a plethora of left-wing magazines have leapt out of the vacuum into a vibrant print culture with Jacobin magazine, the New Inquiry and others using their sites as sharing and promotional tools.

The future of print, then, lies in dynamic relationship between the two formats. Print, and digital, far from being enemies, are both necessary for the survival of progressive media. And it’s through Facebook and Twitter that you can pull in my paper-averse demographic, and eventually, once they like what they’ve seen, move them into the physical edition. That’s shown most strongly through the revival of the feminist movement in the UK and the successful membership-driven launch of Feminist Times off the back of it.

Finally radical media platforms are embracing the web, reaching young new audiences while continuing to deliver the experience that only print can offer. Social media is a gateway.

The left is in a rut across Europe, and the old journalistic order is crumbling from the impact of scandals. But, paradoxically, these facts help us. We must innovate and experiment, combining print and digital in new ways. Out of the ashes of the ancien regime a new multi-media culture can rise. What have we got to lose?

Josiah Mortimer is an activist, writer and Politics student at the University of York. This article was a winner of the Ross Pritchard Memorial Fund’s 2013 Essay Competition, established to commemorate the life of one of the Graphical Paper & Media Union’s best known rank and file members, Ross Pritchard. The Trustees of the Fund annually invite entries to their essay competition, which in 2013 was on a subject dear to Ross’s heart: ‘In the light of changing technologies, what future is there for print as a medium of communication?

Young trade union members are earnestly invited to submit essays to the competition (not more than 1,000 words), but submissions from other trade union members are also welcomed. For more information email megan@gn.apc.org