Transition Free Press has been one of many publications, telling the stories that are seldom heard in mainstream media. This weekend a new campaign is being launched that brings grassroots and progressive media platforms together – to highlight media distortion and to promote independent public interest journalism.
On Saturday, 28 February the Real Media Gathering will take place in Manchester, with speakers, discussions, workshops and networking on independent journalism and the alternative to a mainstream media which many feel is selling us short.
The Real Media campaign argues the mass media currently acts in the interests of the establishment, not the people. Media ownership is not only concentrated towards wealthy corporates but working journalists are finding themselves squeezed with a knock on impact on the news that citizens are provided with. A quarter of local authority areas do not now have a local newspaper, once an important source of information for people about their community.
Another inspiration behind Real Media is the lack of coverage of issues such as inequality, corporate power, fracking and privatisation, and the often misleading and largely negative stories on topics such as immigration and welfare.
Real Media is planning a series of events and actions in the lead up to the May general election and beyond. Independent media organisations from across the country have got behind the campaign, including local alternatives like the Salford Star, Slaney Street and the Bristol Cable and national ones such as Red Pepper, New Internationalist, Media Diversified, openDemocracy and Transition Free Press.
Real Media has been set up by Real Fare, a project that aims to challenge myths about the welfare system. “One of the major obstacles to be able to have an honest conversation about welfare reform is the mass media and how the issue is covered,” says Drew Rose of Real Media and the Bristol Cable.
The dominant narratives in the media, and in politics, can contribute to misconceptions. A 2013 survey by Ipsos MORI highlighted a number of gaps between public perception and reality on topics including immigration, teenage pregnancy and the religious and ethnic make up of the UK.
Following the conference on 28 February, Real Media are planning a national Anti Daily Mail Week from 13-20 March with online blockades, subvertising, protest and parody. Then, Occupy Rupert Murdoch Week will take place from 22-29 March, organised by Occupy The Media. The week will include art and action and is being brought right to Murdoch’s door: his News UK headquarters in London Bridge. Occupy the Media have also drafted an 11 point Charter For a Free Democratic Press.
Later this year Real Media is planning to launch a new website to aggregate independent reporting from reliable grassroots sources and eventually there are plans for a ‘co-op of co-ops’ which could potentially raise funds for member organisations or fund individual journalists to investigate particular issues.
Find out more about the conference and the campaign at the Real Media website. The Occupy the Media website can be found here, along with details of events and the Charter For a Free Democratic Press.