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Attack on media (mis-)representation

Lots of newspaper articles have appeared on the Mayday conference and especially on the guerilla gardening action on Monday, and the imagination of journalists has been proved to be virtually limitless. From fears of gardeners attacking cops with spears to the army being on alert, every crazy idea has been transmitted to the public. Reason enough to have a workshop on "Mayday 2000 in the media".

Speakers including Larry O'Hara accused the media of trying to criminalise dissent. "For most journalists legitimate dissent stopped in 1968", O'Hara said. Their tactics of undermining protests and direct action include focusing on violence and, in some cases, even linking environmental and social activists with fascist thoughts and activities, in order to create a picture of 'violent extremists' who don't differ much from each other. The goal of all this, according to O'Hara, is to alienate the public from activists, but also to alienate activists from each other.

The latest of the many examples he presented was a Sunday Times article from the day of the workshop. This article not only portrays the participants involved in Mayday as violent rioters, but undermines the credibility of legal observers. This, says O'Hara, signifies the attempts of some corporate media to delegitimate any objective observers.

O'Hara advised activists who talk to the media to investigate the journalists before they talk to them and demand articles the latter have written on related subjects.

See our Mediawatch section for further information on corporate media issues.

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