September 2009

Man arrested for taking pictures of trains, Let’s revue the facts:

1/ AmTrack (the US main train operator) announces a photography contest
2/ Photographer Kerzic takes photographs for AmTrack’s photography contest
3/ Amtrack police arrest Kersiz for taking photographs

Here is a video report from Stephen Colbert (at The Colbert Report) about a photographer who was arrested as he was taking photos of trains.

To do an action and not be able to communicate it, is almost not to do the action at all
You need a photo of the spanner going into the works.

You need a photo of the campaigners going over the fence.

You need video of the activist saying why they did it.

You need a picture of the target and the target at work.

All these things are needed to communicate why, what and when the thing happened – if they aren’t there then the public effect of the action will be but a fraction of what it could be.

The economic damage of the spanner going into the machine will be real, but the inspiration of the action is in many ways as important as coverage like this is probably the reason/motivation for the current action – and it is only a series of actions that will change society, not isolated and invisible single actions. Using media to amplify your message is key to the content of your action.

You could invite mainstream media along

* but they likely won’t come

* they will tell the target and/or the police

* they will not be part of any illegal activity so won’t get the shots they need to tell the story.

* when you are done a editor higher up (hand in hand with their lawyers) will change the message to be something you will not only be disappointed with but probably furious with – it’s the nature of mainstream media to misrepresent any social change activity that isn’t sanctioned by the mainstream –  this is unlikely to change.

Media is key to the message, perhaps all media is good media, but some is more useful for radical purpose than others. Lets make DIY work and make our own media

Hamish’s Blog

NUJ Download ADM Preliminary Agenda 2009 [PDF]

Motion #12 page 4

This ADM condemns Kent police’s seizure, without a warrant, of a UK indymedia server in Manchester on January 22, 2009, and the ongoing failure to return it to the owner.

This ADM recognises the inherent value of open news publishing on the Internet, particularly UK Indymedia and its collectively organised sister sites all over the world. ADM welcomes efforts by the New Media Industrial Council to work with the London Indymedia collective to create better links between the union and those working for the site, who include NUJ members.

This ADM calls for better legal safeguards for all online content and instructs the NEC to provide appropriate support to Indymedia through our members working with the site.
Cost £1,000 London Central also received from New Media Industrial Council

and ….

Motion #91 page 19
This ADM condemns the excessive policing of the G20 demonstrations in London and other demonstrations in the UK. Peaceful protesters were subjected to unacceptable restrictions on their rights to assemble and demonstrate, journalists were prevented from doing their jobs and some  protesters and journalists were victims of police brutality. ADM offers its condolences to the family of Ian Tomlinson who died during the demonstrations.

ADM welcomes the brave efforts of NUJ members to highlight the police behaviour in the face of such restrictions and, in particular, congratulates Indymedia for its comprehensive coverage and Marc Vallee and the Guardian newspaper on their important investigations. ADM also welcomes the efforts by the union’s officials to work to change the police behaviour towards  journalists and the legal support provided to those who need it. ADM, however, also notes that some journalists played a less than constructive part in advance of the G20 demonstrations and in the  immediate aftermath – printing police statements as fact that turned out to be, at best, hyperbole and, at worst, downright lies.

ADM reminds all members that journalists should make every effort to verify information provided by sources and that this applies to the police as much as everyone else. ADM notes that the presumption of violence on the part of protesters and the stereotyping of all anarchists as violent has consistently proved to be inaccurate and unfair.

ADM instructs the NEC to work with the Ethics Council to prepare guidelines for members on how to properly report on demonstrations – including the period just before the events – and how to cover police statements appropriately. ADM further instructs the NEC to seek to address the union’s concerns about inaccurate statements – a practice that has damaged the reputation of both the police and the media – to the police and  to seek to convince them of the need to provide journalists with accurate information.
Cost: £1,000 London Central

National Union of Journalists

Seventeen declarations

1. The internet is different.

It produces different public spheres, different terms of trade and different cultural skills. The media must adapt their work methods to today’s technological reality instead of ignoring or challenging it. It is their duty to develop the best possible form of journalism based on the available technology. This includes new journalistic products and methods.

2. The internet is a pocket-sized media empire.

The web rearranges existing media structures by transcending their former boundaries and oligopolies. The publication and dissemination of media contents are no longer tied to heavy investments. Journalism’s self-conception is—fortunately—being bereft of its gatekeeping function. All that remains is the journalistic quality through which journalism distinguishes itself from mere publication.

3. The internet is our society is the Internet.

Web-based platforms like social networks, Wikipedia or YouTube have become a part of everyday life for the majority of people in the western world. They are as accessible as the telephone or television. If media companies want to continue to exist, they must understand the lifeworld of today’s users and embrace their forms of communication. This includes basic forms of social communication: listening and responding, also known as dialog.

4. The freedom of the internet is inviolable.

The internet’s open architecture constitutes the basic IT law of a society which communicates digitally and, consequently, of journalism. It may not be modified for the sake of protecting the special commercial or political interests often hidden behind the pretense of public interest. Regardless of how it is done, blocking access to the Internet endangers the free flow of information and corrupts our fundamental right to a self-determined level of information.

5. The internet is the victory of information.

Due to inadequate technology, media companies, research centers, public institutions and other organizations compiled and classified the world’s information up to now. Today every citizen can set up her own personal news filter while search engines tap into wealths of information of a magnitude never before known. Individuals can now inform themselves better than ever.

6. The internet changes improves journalism.

Through the Internet, journalism can fulfill its social-educational role in a new way. This includes presenting information as an ever-changing, continual process; the forfeiture of print media’s inalterability is a benefit. Those who want to survive in this new world of information need a new idealism, new journalistic ideas and a sense of pleasure in exploiting this new potential.

7. The net requires networking.

Links are connections. We know each other through links. Those who do not use them exclude themselves from social discourse. This also holds for the websites of traditional media companies.

8. Links reward, citations adorn.

Search engines and aggregators facilitate quality journalism: they boost the findability of outstanding content over a long-term basis and are thus an integral part of the new, networked public sphere. References through links and citations—especially including those made without any consent of or even remuneration of the originator—make the very culture of networked social discourse possible in the first place. They are by all means worthy of protection.

9. The internet is the new venue for political discourse.

Democracy thrives on participation and freedom of information. Transferring the political discussion from traditional media to the Internet and expanding on this discussion by involving the active participation of the public is one of journalism’s new tasks.

10. Today’s freedom of the press means freedom of opinion.

Article 5 of the German Constitution does not comprise protective rights for professions or technically traditional business models. The Internet overrides the technological boundaries between the amateur and professional. This is why the privilege of freedom of the press must hold for anyone who can contribute to the fulfillment of journalistic duties. Qualitatively speaking, no differentiation should be made between paid and unpaid journalism, but rather, between good and poor journalism.

11. More is more – there is no such thing as too much information.

Once upon a time, institutions such as the church prioritized power over personal awareness and warned of an unsifted flood of information when the letterpress was invented. On the other hand were the pamphleteers, encyclopaedists and journalists who proved that more information leads to more freedom, both for the individual as well as society as a whole. To this day, nothing has changed in this respect.

12. Tradition is not a business model.

Money can be made on the Internet with journalistic content. There are many examples of this today already. Yet because the Internet is fiercely competitive, business models have to be adapted to the structure of the net. No one should try to abscond from this essential adaptation through policy-making geared to preserving the status quo. Journalism needs open competition for the best refinancing solutions on the net, along with the courage to invest in the multifaceted implementation of these solutions.

13. Copyright becomes a civic duty on the internet.

Copyright is a central cornerstone of information organization on the Internet. Originators’ rights to decide on the type and scope of dissemination of their contents are also valid on the net. At the same time, copyright may not be abused as a lever to safeguard obsolete supply mechanisms and shut out new distribution models or license schemes. Ownership entails obligations.

14. The internet has many currencies.

Journalistic online services financed through adverts offer content in exchange for a pull effect. A reader’s, viewer’s or listener’s time is valuable. In the industry of journalism, this correlation has always been one of the fundamental tenets of financing. Other forms of refinancing which are journalistically justifiable need to be forged and tested.

15. What’s on the net stays on the net.

The internet is lifting journalism to a new qualitative level. Online, text, sound and images no longer have to be transient. They remain retrievable, thus building an archive of contemporary history. Journalism must take the development of information, its interpretation and errors into account, i.e., it must admit its mistakes and correct them in a transparent manner.

16. Quality remains the most important quality.

The internet debunks homogeneous bulk goods. Only those who are outstanding, credible and exceptional will gain a steady following in the long run. Users’ demands have increased. Journalism must fulfill them and abide by its own frequently formulated principles.

17. All for all.

The web constitutes an infrastructure for social exchange superior to that of 20th century mass media: When in doubt, the “generation Wikipedia” is capable of appraising the credibility of a source, tracking news back to its original source, researching it, checking it and assessing it—alone or as part of a group effort. Journalists who snub this and are unwilling to respect these skills are not taken seriously by these Internet users. Rightly so. The Internet makes it possible to communicate directly with those once known as recipients—readers, listeners and viewers—and to take advantage of their knowledge. Not the journalists who know it all are in demand, but those who communicate and investigate.

Internet Manifesto : How journalism works today. Seventeen declarations

Climate camp’s media mismanagement

John Vidal lambasts the protesters’ heavy-handed media strategy

The climate camp at Heathrow is coming down and the core group, which set it up and steered the event, is celebrating what they say has been a successful week of protest education and discussion. Good luck to them, but don’t buy the guff that it was a model of a new low carbon-based society or the birth of a utopian political movement.

I went to the camp twice, and to the HQ of the metropolitan police once for a briefing last week. Frankly, it was easier and far more pleasant getting into Scotland Yard. A small but anonymous faction of the old protest movement at the climate camp had decided from the start that the ‘corporate’ press is actually the enemy, and therefore has to be excluded. There was to be no appeal and the policy was rigorously enforced via a media police team. As a sop, the press was allowed a guided tour of certain parts of the camp for one hour a day.

This was plane stupid. Just when the campers were saying that climate action had to become a mass movement and were appealing to the public to join them, they were deliberately keeping the media out – the very people needed to open up the debate.

I refused to go on the absurd camp tour. On a personal level, every journalist and photographer I talked to felt insulted. Why is a journalist – good or bad – not classed as a citizen? Why could not journalists inform themselves by going to the lectures and debates? Why should they not enjoy the same rights as anyone else? Why was my partner allowed into the camp but not me? Why could I only talk to people I had known for years only in the company of a minder?

If there is one thing more aggravating than a British policeman stopping you on suspicion that you are a terrorist when he knows for a fact that you are not, it’s a jobsworth protester trying to have you thrown out of a site that he himself has squatted.

…… Full article

Costing the Earth Radio4 ‘flagship’ environmental program

Listen again at:

All over the country renewable energy schemes are being thwarted by local people determined to stop wind farms and bio-mass plants being built on some of the most beautiful doorsteps in Britain.

In the first of a new series of ‘Costing the Earth’ Tom Heap asks if radical action is needed to break through the blockade. Should the new planning laws intended to rush through urgently needed road and airport projects be extended to all green energy projects? Or should developers make more effort to get local people on board? If locals can see an immediate financial benefit will they drop their opposition?

Tom Heap travels from Sussex to Orkney to meet the protestors and find out how they can be brought on board the green energy revolution.

and ….

for the Archers Fans out there [well, I’m one anyway ….] Some of the villagers are engaging in a spot of guerrilla gardening.  Splendid 🙂