August 2023 Update
Hello! Summer is drawing to a close, and to mark the occasion I have another Better Media monthly update to relay. You can read the last update here.
In each update, I look at the progress we’ve made in each of the four main strands of Better Media’s work:
- Supporting and promoting community media outlets
- Collating and platforming resources relating to media reform
- Acting as a link between trade unions and the media reform movement
- Amplifying and participating in campaigns around media policy
Supporting community media
I spoke last month about making adjustments to the timeline for the guide to Local Community Media Co-ops that we’ve been working on throughout the year. Today I completed a concrete outline for the guide, and it is currently my aim to have a rough draft of the copy for the guide complete by the end of September. From that point, we will be looking to publish the guide both online and in print, provided we can secure the necessary funding. Keep an eye out for more on that soon, and in the meantime Better Media members can see my current outline over on our forums.
In other community media news, we’ve been following the launch of The Scottish Beacon with great interest this month. The Beacon is a collaborative network of independent media outlets from across Scotland, pooling their resources to amplify their work further than they could reach alone. It’s a really pioneering new model for community media taking collective action – and a showcase of some excellent local journalism as well. We highly recommend subscribing to their newsletter.
Platforming media reform resources
This month I’d particularly like to highlight an upcoming event, co-hosted by the Media Reform Coalition (MRC) and the Public Interest News Foundation (PINF). They will be jointly launching a guide to Funding Journalism Using Participatory Grantmaking, authored by Dr Debs Grayson, on 11th September. Effective, public-interest journalism is sorely in need of new funding solutions, and I am very keen to read the guide and learn more about this particular approach. You can register to join the launch event on zoom – 3pm, 11th September.
Media North, another successor to the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom (CPBF), also published a very useful resource this month. This leaflet has been produced specifically for distribution at the upcoming Labour Party conference, but it’s worth reading and sharing more generally as well – it gives a succinct expression of what’s wrong with UK media, and what an incoming government should do to address it.
Linking with trade unions
We continue to build our connections to branches across a number of trade unions, and hope to present to a number of branch meetings in September. We also continue to stand in solidarity with unionised journalists in a number of disputes both in the UK and abroad. In particular, we have been inspired by the bravery of BBC journalists in Cairo standing up for themselves and their colleagues in a frightening financial environment, and by the perserverance of BBC Local Radio journalists, who renewed their industrial action mandate this month. We have also been keenly following the NUJ’s ballot of National World journalists, which closes today. Trust in and respect for journalists is very low in the UK at the moment, but that is the result of the actions of media owners and the choice to continue chasing spurious strategies to generate clicks, not the fault of journalists themselves.
Amplifying policy campaigns
We were somewhat alarmed this month by the BBC’s response to a freedom of information request submitted by our member Dr Rob Watson, which revealed that there was no Equality Impact Assessment conducted ahead of the recent proposed cuts to local radio services. The BBC has committed to reviewing the impact on specific audience groups next year – after the changes have gone ahead and many valued local services disappear. It is further evidence that public service media bodies are failing to live up to their statutory responsibilities around equality. We shared this newly-freed information with our colleagues at the Broadcast 2040+ Campaign, and hope to take it forward into that campaign’s work in the coming months.
That’s all for this month! I’ll be back in September with another update. As always you can contact me on email@example.com – my working hours are Thursdays, 8.45-4.30.
Better Media Campaign Co-ordinator