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Video Activist Handbook - Chapter 13

Don't be an Alien #

Dealing with media bias #

Some traditional journalists pretend they are objective. They may even think they really are, as if they were aliens just landed on the planet Earth.

But the truth is that as journalists we can have integrity (we don't distort, we're factual), but we can't be unbiased. In chapter 1 we gave some examples of the institiutional bias of the traditional media. Lots of personal factors also influence how we report a story: our class, ethnicity, gender, education, politics, etc. Even if we were extra-terrestrials, we would arrive on the planet with a set of assumptions about the miserable earthlings we were reporting on.

Here's an example of how different journalists might report exactly the same story:

The actual visionOntv report:

1. LONG-SHOT of house facade with banner "Fighting another Barclays Repossession".

VO: Homes and businesses are being repossessed all over London. This one was taken back by Barclays Bank, who then left it empty for at least 2 years.

2. MID-SHOT of group of squatters and supporters at gate of house.

VO: Around 2 months ago a group of homeless people occupied the building and took it as their home.

3. CLOSE-UP sign on fence "Free Tea and Biscuits (Also for Bailiffs)"

VO: Today they and supporters and friends are in front of the property to prevent access to the bailiffs and stop this first attempt at eviction.

How an anarchist news magazine might report:

1. LONG-SHOT of house facade with banner "Fighting another Barclays Repossession".

VO: When Barclays Bank repossessed this property and then left it empty for 2 years, the only answer was crowbars at dawn.

2. MID-SHOT of group of squatters and supporters at gate of house.

VO: When bailiffs came to evict, they were sent packing by a local posse.

3. CLOSE-UP sign on fence "Free Tea and Biscuits (Also for Bailiffs)"

VO: For more information on how to defend squats in your local area, go to.....

How the BBC might report:

1. LONG-SHOT of house facade with banner "Fighting another Barclays Repossession".

VO: A scrawled political slogan pinned to an East London house. Squatters have moved in, making the Georgian building into a makeshift homeless shelter.

2. MID-SHOT of group of squatters and supporters at gate of house.

VO: The government says they are invading people's homes. The squatters say they are occupying a house left empty for some time.

3. CLOSE-UP sign on fence "Free Tea and Biscuits (Also for Bailiffs)"

VO: Owners Barclays Bank told us they have no choice but to go to the expense of eviction to protect their property.

How Fox News might report it:

1. LONG-SHOT of house facade with banner "Fighting another Barclays Repossession".

VO: Yet another property invaded by house squatters in London, England.

2. MID-SHOT of group of squatters and supporters at gate of house.

VO: Home-owners say that squatting has become a plague across the United Kingdom. The government says they will make it a criminal offence.

3. CLOSE-UP sign on fence "Free Tea and Biscuits (Also for Bailiffs)"

VO: Harmless layabouts or dangerous anarchists? You decide.

Remember: Be accurate. Have integrity. Be aware of your own prejudices, and test them against the facts. But also trust your intuitions, and chase down information that the traditional channels often leave out. Be a trustworthy news source. Be better than the traditional media.

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