The Media Rules

Thursday, 16th August 2007 at 1:36 UTC 6 comments

Would you like it if someone kept walking past your bedroom, kitchen, dining room and lounge windows taking photos? Apparently this should be OK for anyone at the camp for climate action currently taking place. There’s been some really unhelpful stuff published about the media policy, and I want to explain why I see it as important to ensure people can get head space from all the microphones and cameras.

It was bad enough getting up at 6:30 for an interview with Radio Leeds at 7:05 but to know that you’re constantly being watched, from the moment you get out of bed to the moment you get back in again, well, if I wanted that I’d file a form for big brother. Contrary to common belief, we’re not all a bunch of media whores who want 24-7 invasion of privacy to make our point clear.

I know people who feel that being watched inhibits them from doing a range of things while others are watching, including sleeping and eating. To face them with a continuous barrage of press would be really unhelpful. Also, some of us would like to be able to relax while on camp without having to think “help, I’m still being interviewed” every two seconds. As fun as the interviews are, its good to be able to put the phone down.

If a Hollywood star had reporters outside their house all day, every day, they’d sue for harrasment. We’re just politely asking for some space. We have allowed for several “media hours” and most media have been fine standing on the edge of the camp the rest of the time to get a few photographs or the backdrop to an interview; one or two of these you’d hardly know were taken from outside the camp and not the middle of it. Just don’t expect us to let you point camera’s at us when we’re working to create a site and to maintain it and still get some sleep as well. Good night!


Entry filed under: Climate Change, Environment, Free Speech, Media, News.

Am I really this subjective? Confronting Western Greed

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. LordRich  |  Thursday, 16th August 2007 at 10:36 UTC

    But yet you invite your pet journalists on site to camp with you. And then when they refuse because of the way you are treating other journalists you hurriedly change your media policy. You’re still treating Indymedia differently to the rest of the press, expecting them to be your mouthpiece rather than journalists – but we’re not, we’re the only press who are reporting the truth and to maintain that we’re only reporting the news we can confirm.

    The decision to not allow corporate press to stay on-site means you then end up having undercover journalists, which leads to them hearing inaccurate, misguided information and reporting it. Had the journalist from the Evening Standard been welcomed on-site as a journalist then he’d have more accurate information, and you wouldn’t have spent ages worrying whether he was a cop or an undercover reporter. By having media on-site 24/7 it also means the cops will be slightly friendlier for fear of looking bad on the news at ten.

  • 2. Peter  |  Thursday, 16th August 2007 at 18:20 UTC

    Would you like it if a load of people set up camp in your garden without asking you, and planned to stay there for a week, attracting loads of press attention there as well?

    Not saying that occupying the site is wrong – just pointing out that the climate camp is not set up to be a bastion of law-abidement – nor should it. But in that case, it can hardly complain about a bit of media harrassment.
    Otherwise you end up fulfilling the caricature of ranting protestors wanting everything their way and blaming somebody else for every setback.

  • 3. Jonathan  |  Friday, 17th August 2007 at 8:53 UTC

    When the media cover a press conference at 10 Downing Street, do they expect to watch Blair having breakfast?

    When they cover celebrities, don’t we tut at them for going through their garbage and filming their children?

    In pretty much every sphere of life it’s taken as a given that some areas will be off-limits to the press. I don’t see why the camp should be any different.

    Some other thoughts:

    First, the media is not neutral. There’s a big history (anarchists to attack kate moss! anti-capitalists with samurai swords lay seige to oxford street! not to mention the shit that came out around the G8) of journalists misrepresenting and/or betraying activists. I think it’s completely reasonable for people to have reservations about working with them. Having a set media tent, and escorted visits around the camp, seems like the best compromise between media access and personal safety/security.

    Also, to be blunt: the camp is full of people planning to break the law. While it’s hard to feel safe at the best of times, planning illegal actions when there’s people wandering around with cameras and boom mikes (with the possibility of picking things up which they’re not focusing on) would be very offputting. And to be honest I put effectiveness of action above hurting a few journalists’ feelings.

    The point about “pet journalists” is an interesting one, however. Personally I see the likes of Monbiot and Hari more as activists who are also journalists than journalists who we like. As such, while the fact that they’re journalists does have to be taken into account, I don’t have any problem with giving them some extra access because, well, they’ve shown their credentials.

    As for undercover journalists, they’d be there regardless of the official press policy.

    – Jonathan

  • 4. Jonathan  |  Friday, 17th August 2007 at 8:58 UTC

    Um, first paragraph should read Brown not Blair. meh.

  • 5. Duck  |  Saturday, 18th August 2007 at 17:52 UTC

    Wonderful comment on BBC R4 hourly headlines last night: Climate Camp ‘has been infiltrated by the dangerous extremists who were behind protests at the G8’. No, really?

    Also, you’ve got pages of the Independent newspaper today. Though oddly, they seem to have recycled the quote from them that was used on your publicity… it’s worrying how bad ‘journalism’ is when you’ve got half an idea what is actually going on.

    But… sorry, but you aren’t going to directly stop many people from getting on planes. Apart from the camp itself being its own point (which you could just as well have by picking an obscure field in Wales or something with no press interest at all), then surely the point is publicity. Most of the time we complain about not getting enough publicity for Important Stuff. If you can use the publicity to get the idea across that climate change is *really* what should be keeping everyone awake at night, and that it is possible to do something about it – surely that’s the whole point of the camp? Annoying press focusing on ‘process’, treating the camp as analogous to a ‘celebrity event’, is just a tool to get that message across.

    You’re getting pages of coverage across all types of press & broadcast (I’ve been reading the newspapers in the library – you rate at least a mention just about everywhere). This doesn’t happen to protestors often – make the most of it!

  • 6. Duck  |  Monday, 20th August 2007 at 22:17 UTC

    ‘Earlier today, Graham Martin, one of the campaign organisers, complained about police tactics prior to today’s scheduled protests. He said: “We have had police pointing cameras at us almost continuously. They are very much using overkill tactics, and making it difficult to get on and off site.”‘

    You are famous.


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