March 2024 Update

Be the Media, Know the Media, Change the Media.

March 2024 Update

Hello and welcome to another update on the work of Better Media. Rowan Gavin here, Better Media Campaign Co-ordinator. You can read the last update here.

Before we get into it, a quick piece of news: my contract as Campaign Co-ordinator was recently authorised by our members for renewal, and I will be continuing in this role for at least the next 6 months. While we do not have enough funding on hand to guarantee my contract beyond that time, we expect funding commitments that are still being processed to enable my work to continue through the end of 2024 and beyond.

Our work here at Better Media consists of four main strands:

  • Acting as a link between trade unions and the media reform movement
  • Amplifying and participating in campaigns around media policy
  • Supporting and promoting community media outlets
  • Collating and platforming resources relating to media reform

Linking with trade unions

The 2024 Media Democracy Festival took place on 16th March, at the University of Sheffield, and we were pleased to be able to contribute to the session ‘Media Workers For Change’. On our recommendation, former Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom (CPBF) stalwarts Ann Field and Tim Gopsill both featured as panellists, and a short clip from the CPBF film ‘Why Their News Is Bad News’ was shown. The intent was to highlight the pivotal role of media workers and trade unions in struggles for media reform across the decades.

I’m not aware of any Better Media members who were able to attend the event, but I look forward to hearing more about how the session went and seeing recordings from other sessions once they’re available.

Amplifying policy campaigns

In February I attended a briefing on the Media Bill put on by the Citizens’ Forum for Public Service Media at the House of Lords. Better Media member Sam Hunt was also present, also representing Decentred Media. As a member organisation of the Forum, we were there to discuss and advocate for the protection of public service media and against harmful deregulation proposed in the Bill.

Following its second reading in the Lords at the end of last month, the Media Bill now passes to the Committee Stage before returning to the Commons. Several peers called for or submitted amendments in line with the goals of the Forum – particularly on the issue of ensuring that the range of genres public service broadcasters are required to cover is clearly defined. Our colleagues in the forum are optimistic that this will ensure the continued production of important content such as international coverage. However, we are still concerned with the Bill’s plans for local radio, which risk creating a protectionist environment that benefits large commercial providers without requiring them to fulfil any significant public service obligations. See our submission of evidence during the drafting of the Bill for more information.

Supporting community media

I recently had an excellent meeting with South-West Co-operative Development to discuss our ongoing project to put together a guide for local community media co-ops. It was very helpful to pick their brains about the project, and they generously offered their expertise and support going forward.

This project has been in the works for a long time, but we are making steady progress. The first draft of the guide is more than half written, and with the help of South-West Co-operative Development and other experts in the field that I will be talking to in the coming weeks I am optimistic that we will be able to launch this guide as a practical and effective resource later this year.

Platforming media reform resources

Last week, Rhiannon Davies of the Scottish Beacon ran an excellent workshop with the Civic Journalism Lab on ‘Finding funding for journalism projects’. Several of my contacts in independent media have spoken very highly of the session, which saw Rhiannon share her experience from her work building a platform for Scottish independent journalism and her Churchill fellowship visiting innovative local news projects across North America. You can watch the recording of the session here – essential viewing if you’re looking to fund a new or existing independent journalism project.

That’s all for this month! I’ll be back in April with another update. As always you can contact me on – my working hours are Thursdays, 8.45-4.30.

Rowan Gavin
Better Media Campaign Co-ordinator


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