Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Media at Climate Camp

In less than two hours, environment activists from across the country will be gathering at locations around London, ready to swoop on an as yet undisclosed location to set up the 2009 Camp for Climate Action. Thanks to the insane policing at a mini-camp in the City of London back in April, it's no doubt going to be a media circus as all eyes turn to the policing of the event.

It will be interesting to see how the police do behave when the media spotlight is upon them. Unfortunately, I fear this is the only media spotlight we shall see. The big story for them is the policing of the event, rather than the actual event itself. If it passes without much police intervention, how much reporting from inside the camp will we see? I'm not making a judgement, merely posing a question, but this leads me on to the Camp's Media Access Policy, which is somewhat bemusing.

At previous Camps, access for the mainstream media has been very limited, which is somewhat understandable because there is a lack of trust towards the MSM for numerous reasons, mainly the haphazard and misrepresentative reporting of environmental protest and environment politics in general. This year, the rules have been relaxed somewhat, but like previous years they've still drawn criticism from photographers and journalists unhappy at the restrictions.

I agree completely with the media on this one. Apart from stating the obvious in that it goes against the idea of a free press, first of all, it defies the anti-authoritarian nature of the group to place restrictions on the media. Secondly, how are we to trust the official content coming the Camp's media team? And thirdly, in this day and age how do you apply media restrictions when nearly everybody has a phone with a camera on it?

I emailed the press team to find out how the media access policy would apply to people intending to blog and tweet content from the Camp, they replied:
"in the handbook that will be handed out to all campers, there will be a
section providing guidelines for people who will be taking photos and
videos in this capcity - asking people to bascvially just do it with

If the onus is to basically do it with respect, surely that's the only guideline necessary? I don't know, I'll find out in a few hours time, but that's the only guideline I'll be following.

Climate Camp is trying to build a mass social movement from the ground up to try and steer climate change policy in the right direction. They may not like this, but it means engaging in the mainstream media at some point or other. This doesn't mean relying entirely on the mainstream media, not when social/new media are just as powerful, but would you want to get on the wrong side of newspapers and television stations that are seen and watched by millions of people every day?


During this week, as well as regular blog posts I'll hopefully be tweeting photos and video from the Camp so follow me on Twitter and I'll try keep you updated, pending phone signal/battery/police etc.

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