The very first version of the event was PN promotions worker Gabriel Carlyle’s suggestion that we could call together 40-50 people connected to or sympathetic with Media Lens, to try to improve how we all put pressure on the mainstream media. (Given this origin, we very much regret that Media Lens were not able to make the dates to be part of the RMC.) The scale of the event ballooned as we quickly realised that we would really like a radical media conference to do three things that we didn’t think had ever been done before in a single event: give inspiring examples of radical media projects; provide skill-sharing for activists and radical media workers; and deepen the level of media critique in the activist scene.
After Peace News had hired a conference organiser, obtained a grant from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, secured Friends House as one of the venues (through the good auspices of Quaker Peace & Social Witness), secured our keynote speakers, and called together an organising group for the conference, someone asked why we were prioritising media critique as a focus.
Don’t most activists already know that the mainstream media are rotten? Most do know that, but for many of us the critique does not go that deep. How many of us are familiar with the details of the Chomsky-Herman Propaganda Model of the media? How many could explain the Propaganda Model’s “five filters” or the concept of “feigned dissent”, or set out three common tests of the model? These ought to be in any long-term campaigner’s activist toolkit.
This is only one strand of the conference. Equally important are the skill-sharing and presenting some inspiring and ground-breaking projects, such as The NewStandard, the online radical hard news paper that we’ve profiled before; The Hankyoreh, the national daily newspaper that was born out of the South Korean democracy movement (we interview the executive editor on p8); and ZCommunications, whose co-founder, Michael Albert, we interviewed recently.
Being involved in organising the RMC has meant discovering a host of exciting radical media projects. PN is proud to take our place among them, as a radical media project with a distinct mission: to explore and develop radical nonviolence – revolutionary nonviolence.
A footnote: it has been really great to have involved in the RMC a host of people from Peace News Summer Camp (organisers and participants). It has really felt like an extension of our community.