Text of a speech delivered at the Rebellious Media Conference, this weekend in London.
Good media must be free from internal organizational structures and policies that would compromise its ability to deal with its subject matter honestly and fully.
This means good media must not be racist or sexist, which I think everyone here likely understands and tries hard to act on by ensuring that media not have racist and sexist divisions of labor, income differentials, and assumptions – but nor can good media be classist because, if it is, then it will not deal well with issues of class in society.
But not being classist means good media can't be profit seeking, as that would lead to it being unable to honestly address matters of private ownership and profit seeking.
Not being classist means good media can't sell advertising thereby biasing toward audiences with disposable income and away from content that will diminish attentiveness to ads, much less challenge commercialism.
Not being classist means good media can't be organized to empower and enrich a few who occupy elite slots, while disempowering and paying much less to those occupying subordinate slots. Any media that has that old corporate division of labor will not deal well with challenging that type arrangement, or even with noting its existence.
Good media also cannot have top down decision making, whether by owners or by those who monopolize empowering work. If media has top down decision making, it will not do a good job with issues of power, and particularly self management.
We don't have good mainstream media, and we won't until we have transformed all of society, but we can win changes that move mainstream media in a desirable direction consistent with our long run aims
A good mainstream media program here in the UK, or anywhere else, needs to focus on:
n winning changes in accord with reducing and eventually eliminating private ownership,
n winning changes in accord with challenging and eventually overthrowing the old division of labor to ensure that all workers are comparably empowered,
n winning changes challenging top down decision making and, in its place, moving toward workers self management,
n winning changes reducing and finally eliminating ads as a revenue source, and
n winning changes reducing income differentials among workers and finally achieving equitable remuneration.
However the above program will have a hollow ring if our own media aren't practicing what we preach for the mainstream – and all too often they aren't.
Our media typically aren't for profit, but they do have donors largely in command.
They do have the old division of labor, and internal class division.
They do have top down decision making by those who monopolize empowering work, and those with their hands on funding.
They do take ads, and they do have a wide disparity in wage levels.
What Are We To Do?
I suggest a three pronged campaign.
First, we have an international campaign called: Press the Press
The campaign demands labor sections, peace sections, women's sections, and so on, in newspapers and other media.
And it demands that these new sections be staffed by activists with experience addressing the topic – and operate in an anti classist manner.
This means demanding self managed decision making by employees in these divisions.
And it means demanding remuneration only for how long people work, how hard they work, and the onerousness of conditions some may bear.
And it means getting rid of the old division of labor by dividing up empowering work among everyone so that each worker has a comparably empowering work experience – I call this balanced job complexes.
And finally, as much as is now possible, it means polling the actual needs of readers/viewers, not financial bottom lines, including not having ads, but accepting donations.
Then for our own Alternative Media we have the second part of our effort, A Media Rectification Campaign.
This addresses the flaws in our media structures – urging our media to constructively install workers self management, equitable remuneration, balanced job complexes, and a non market logic that rejects selling users to advertisers.
Finally, the third campaign I would suggest is one of Alt Media Creation – which aims at creating alternative mass media also with new classless internal structures, quickly becoming for that reason a model with which to legitimate the Press the Press campaign.
I believe that this combination – Press the Press, Alternative Media Rectification, and Alternative Media Creation all guided by anti racist, anti sexist, and anti-classist vision and all seeking institutional structure in tune with its values would not only go a long way to addressing contemporary media problems, but would also serve as a model for campaigns regarding other parts of society.
If this is true, we should act on the suggestion. If it is false, then we need to come up with some better way to address problems of media. For surely these problems are among the most important we face in the effort to reach out and develop massive, informed movements to create a new world.