The Media is the Message
Dan Glass, Plane Stupid
Plane Stupid is often known for high-profile dare-devil media-orientated actions. But take a peek behind the scenes of the drama and you will meet hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have been building a movement based on creative media to tackle the daily reality of injustice and poverty to build a world for the greater common good. Recognising the complexities of direct action, the medium is as important as the message for Plane Stupid. We aim to embody the world we want to create and thus shift power structures in our organising to support people to get involved.
With growing recognition of the world’s interconnected problems, it is an increasing challenge to join the ever-tougher competition for a bigger slice of the public’s ‘mind share’. Because of this, Plane Stupid has strategically engaged with the independent and mainstream press over the years. This engagement is part of the foundations from which our creativity rests upon. In an increasingly changing environment, with growing protest cultures, how can media be used as a genuine form for empowering social change?
The Whaling Wars of the Antarctic: The case of Sea Sheppard, ‘Eco-Terrorism’ and Multi-Media Activism
Anita Howarth, Kingston University
This paper explores mainstream media constructions of the militant clashes between Sea Shepherd and the Japanese Whaling Fleet in the seas around Antarctica, some of the world’s most inaccessible waters. Despite this remoteness, the organization has succeed in providing images capturing its activities and those of the whaling fleet then distributed these to a wide range of media platforms. This paper is theoretically located between Epstein’s (2008) seminal analysis of discourses on whaling and De Lucca’s (1999) analysis of how activists discourses attract favourable coverage in the mainstream media. Empirically it explores how the ‘eco-terrorism’ of Sea Shepherd is constructed by these outlets in an era when ‘terrorism’ has come to be associated in the west with evil, gratuitous violence and unacceptable fundamentalism. The question is whether for some media, some forms of terrorism may be more acceptable than others and how has this acceptability been constructed.
Keywords: Whaling, militant activism, eco-terrorism
The Missing Public – A Sought-After Ingredient and a Constrainted Entity in the News Discourse on Environmental Risks
Annika Egan Sjölander, Umeå University, Sweden, & Anna Maria Jönsson, Södertörn University, Sweden
There is a pressing need for more inclusive and deliberative environmental governance and communication. The news media shape the public discourse and influence who has access to the public sphere. What we call ‘the missing public’ is a common theme that runs across different empirical studies on environmental news. Citizens’ voices are generally rare. And when the public does appear in the news media it is clearly as a constrained entity, playing a predefined restricted role mainly framed by others.
The aim of this paper is to analyze the role of citizens voices and public representation in environmental news. We believe that two things are needed: 1) a more detailed taxonomy of the issues of public participation and framing in the environmental news discourse; and 2) a methodological approach that tries to synthesize the findings from the case studies that generally have been dominating the analyses of environmental news.
Keywords: environmental communication, public, citizen, news, power
Where is the ‘Counter’ in Counter-Politics? Climate Change and New Media
Maxine Newlands, University of East London
Environmental activist are shifting it’s place of protest, and engaging with the mainstream media in their own terms and in their own space. Through new technologies in communication, a new community is emerging, marking a ‘turning point’ in the relations of power between activists and journalists, from passive to active representation. Climate Camp activists are attempting to develop a counter-site by a) engaging with journalists, b) ‘building a movement’ and c) embracing new technology as a mechanism for empowering citizenship.
Yet, as this paper will argue, the creation of a ‘media tent’ and ‘citizen journalism workshops’ at the Camp for Climate Action (2009) is less a signal to create space for a new community; but more symbolic of normative behaviour. The building of fences around camps, and control of the media ‘on site’, signify the shift is less about control and more about conformity (in Foucauldian way). This paper will ask is engagement with the media a strategy to build an environmentally focused community, or simply a mode of compliance?
Keywords: Climate Camp, Foucault, New Media, Conformity, Eco-activism
‘Not Yet a Butterfly’: Climate Science Blogs as Emerging Spaces of Discourse
Larry Pryor, USC/Annenberg School of Journalism & Communication, US
The blogosphere enters the new decade at its usual confounding speed. Meanwhile theorists continue to deplore blogs as wastelands of polarization and short attention spans. It’s time to revisit that verdict. For example, comments on postings about climate change at news Web sites and independent blogs are defining a new realm of rhetoric with its own language, goals and systems of argumentation. Much of this is occurring without academic notice. An opportunity exists to explore this “believable frontier between nature and culture,” a space of controversy between the technical and public spheres. This paper proposes a method of analysis of climate discourse and collective intelligence. It will also contrast new media’s patterns of public engagement in climate science issues with the approaches being taken by Western governments that focus on a narrow set of motivations and confine deliberation within rigid political and economic boundaries.
Keywords: Blogs, Climate Science, Discourse, Democracy