A Series of Strategic Responses to the Tory Majority, no.2. Destroying the Mainstream Media, pt. 1.

9 May

The pro-independence groups, parties and organisations in Scotland used a massive social media, community organisation effort, and clever set of parliamentary and legal strategies to achieve the near clean-sweep in Scotland.

The social media effort was central, and intimately related to community organisation on the ground.  We’ll come back to that.

But, partly as a result of the success of those strategies, a new factor entered in the form of The National.  Even without a vast readership, it provided a mechanism whereby pro-independence activists had a solid reference point for arguments – even arguments with people who never use online media and still don’t trust it.  Consequently, the power of the social media sphere entered into the new newspaper sphere.  (On that point, anybody not yet reading Wee Ginger Dug is living on a strange planet. Now a National contributor himself, his cataclysmic blog blast at Magrit Curran’s comment in the Record deserves a prize place amongst the great political polemics).

There is no newspaper equivalent for the National elsewhere.  To my mind, this was decisive in allowing the mainstream to continue with an agenda shaped by the right, and even the far right.

Proposal One:  A National for Wales.

There’s a lot of possible actions that could be taken right now with regard to generating a National-style publication in Wales. Given that we’re all different, I’m going to break these down and try to make them into things an individual could do today, while they’re still angry and anxious enough to want to seize the day.

1.  Getting money.  For a national newspaper, that’ll be a whole lot of money.  But if you know people who’ve got money to invest in what they believe in, talk to them.  Now – while they’re still gutted at five more years of wrecking-ball economics.

2.  They’ll want to know about…

Specifics.

Let’s look at some of those, and some immediate possibilities for action that spring from them.

Do you know a newsagent?  Talk to them about a national newspaper.

Got an independent bookshop?  Host a symposium on the possibilities for a national newspaper.

Are you, or your company or organisation, able to get the papers out on the day?  If so, hassle somebody who could make them happen to giving you something to deliver…

Are you a printer, or designer, or journalist?  If so, now is the moment to step up and create a genuinely independent and popular Welsh media.  Put your hands up and say what you can do.  Even better, if you’re ready, what you’re going to do.

Have you got experience making social media work for you?  Step up.

Do you have access to a conference facility?  Use it.  Book the rooms today.  And then start inviting speakers.

Are you an academic in the area of media?  Write about this idea and its implications.  Do you want to pick holes in the economics of a national newspaper in other places?  Do it – that’d be the best publicity possible.

Are you a Scottish independence campaigner who wants to make something fantastic happen?

  • Get in touch with people elsewhere, and offer the help you’re genuinely able to give.  Be pushy
  • Contact people you know who would be amongst potential backers.  If, in the next few days, a major Scots figure announced a financial partnership in the creation of an independent newspaper for Wales, it would create a major – but highly creative – controversy and a whole new area of public debate.  Even more controversially, I’m sure there are Scots who would see the humour and potential of a ‘working-class London’, or a ‘national’ called The North
  • Create the social media conditions via Scottish social networks and pages.  For example, a single post on a big fb page asking Scots to put the case for a new Welsh media directly to their friends in Wales, and asking for volunteers in the cooperative creation of those papers.  Look for enthusiastic Welsh administrators as fast as possible.

Are you Leanne Wood?  Leanne, you know well that outside Scotland, it was the mainstream media that won this election. Whatever help you give, but especially a public pledge to attend the launch party, would be welcome.

Are you still a Labour supporter?  If you’re on the left of the party – and I’m really not interested in talking to the rest of the party here – now is the time to look at a genuine national newspaper for Wales.  Given the strength and longstanding resonance of socialism in Wales.  You may have a problem with a pro-independence stance, but for the next five years, your only effective avenues of action are outside Westminster.

Are you a trade unionist?  Suggest that your branch earmark a contribution to setting up a National Newspaper with a dedicated section for union news.

Are you an anarchist?  Make your mind up and do something about it.

Are you an artist?  Make an image, or a meme, putting the case for a ‘national’ newspaper.  And then promote it shamelessly in a way you’d usually find embarrassing.

Please do some of these things, and pass on any further suggestions that might spark a response.  The next few days are likely to be vital in creating a change in those places, unlike Scotland, where misery was the rule in the election results.

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