The day of the Media Democracy Festival is coming soon. On this occasion, the special guests will discuss how to revolutionise the media to inform and empower citizens.
With the objective of creating information, media outlets have the power to shape realities and deliver their construction to the public. For many people newspapers, radios and television are the main vehicles to achieve information about what is going on in the world. However, it is important to remember that information is a social construction.
Indeed, in the United Kingdom, news outlets are controlled by a handful of giant corporations. By directing what is mentioned and what is silenced, wealthy individuals have the power to distort information in order to suit their own political and economic interest.
However, in recent years, alternative media started to pose a serious challenge to the giants of the media monopoly. Indeed, the turnaround in the 2017 election campaign shows that the information provided by campaign groups through alternative and social media can actually be effective on the audience. Thanks to these new sources, newspaper readership got lower and awareness about media abuses started to get more and more acknowledge around the audience. Indeed, action has already been taken in order to stop the objectification of women by mass media.
The challenge posed to traditional media is remarkable. However, urgent reforms are needed to rebuild the media in a way that it is centred on its public instead of in the interest of its owners. Additionally, new media platforms and their content needs to be supported and advertised.
With the goal to build a diverse and powerful movement for media democracy in the United Kingdom, participants of the Media Democracy Festival will discuss topics related to issues from media racism to alternative models for media funding, ownership and control. Moreover, the power of media barons to influence society will be criticised and new ways to protect and democratise the BBC will be examined.
The festival will see the participation of speakers including Dawn Foster, Guardian columnist; Matt Zarb-Cousin: former spokesman for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn; Aaron Bastani, co-founder and senior editor of Novara Media; Clare Hymer, Momentum communications and press officer;Kerry-Anne Mendoza, editor of The Canary; Rachel Shabi, journalist and Guardian contributor; Tom Mills, author of BBC: Myth of a Public Service; Richard Wilson, Stop Funding Hate; Peter Jukes, Byline Media; Prof David Miller, Professor of Sociology at the University of Bath and director of Spinwatch; Roz Hardie and Sasha Rakoff, founders of Object – Women not Sex Objects; Vanessa Baird, New Internationalist; Thomas Barlow, The Media Fund; Justin Schlosberg, Media Reform Coalition; Prof Natalie Fenton, Media Reform Coalition; Prof Des Freedman. Media Reform Coalition; Prof Angela Phillips, Media Reform Coalition; Prof Jonathan Hardy, University of East London; Anamik Saha, Goldsmiths, University of London and author of Race and the Cultural Industries; David Leigh, Impress and Brian Cathcart, Hacked Off
The Media Democracy Festival will take place on the 17th of March with the objective of bringing together democracy campaigners, researchers and citizens in a national gathering open to the public. The event will take place at Birkbeck, University of London, 25-27 Torrington Square, from 10 am. to 6 pm. For more information, visit here.