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+6 votes
Define "the media" as any established journalistic enterprise - maybe especially those that present themselves as generic or non-partisan, like daily/Sunday papers and local TV news stations.

I tend to see most anarchists take the position that the media should be ignored or passively undermined whenever possible.

The other two positions I see are:

1) utilizing the media to a limited extent, for the sake of attempting to influence the narrative they construct - although not necessarily succeeding;

2) openly attacking the media and journalists, going so far as to destroy news vans, break cameras, and physically force journalists to leave an event.

What are the arguments for/against any of these positions?

(A potential side question could deal with how to treat "independent" media, whether it's genuinely worthwhile, and overall how anarchists can go about constructing counter-narratives.)
by (8.7k points)
edited by
As an aside, I'm most interested in the last position because it confronts the idea that journalism is sacred, and that journalists can combat "injustice" solely by documenting and sharing information (through whatever narrative they choose to put it in, of course).
Upvoted a good question.
I'll take a run at this in a few days after i've slept on it.

I think i'd add 'tactical co-option' to the list of possibilities though, need to flesh that out.

Good on ya, lad.
Thanks! "Tactical co-option" might fall under "utilizing the media", but in a potentially smarter way than just agreeing to an interview. Another thing to consider, for sure.
If it wasn't for the media spectacle around the Seattle WTO uprising of 1999 focused on anarchists and the use of the black bloc, anarchism may not have re-emerged the way it has ever since. Just a thought.
flip: yes? but could as well say that it was the fact that seattle was a success (you know. the kind of success that we get to have sometimes) that made that re-emergence, and that the media was more coat-tail riding than causative.
one could also argue that anarchism becoming popular (which seattle was a part of), was not good for it.

ultimately i think (of course) that the causes of things are truly indecipherable. but still fun to talk about. :)
Perhaps causes are indecipherable, I'm just commenting that much of anarchist action relies on media spectacle. I thought to point it out because by reading our texts and theory you'd get the opposite impression.

1 Answer

+1 vote
a paper that is about to come out in black seed makes (as a side comment) the point that being indecipherable is a better position for anarchists.
arguably this is also the take that guy debord (of situationists fame) took (hence his aphoristic writing).
all my rational arguments follow that line.
it seems to me that there is no doubt whatsoever that our enemies (define them how you will) are far better at taking whatever information we put into the world, and using it effectively (always against us, even if it seems not), than we are.
this bypasses the question of whether the media are our enemies or not. (of course some individual people in the media are not, but most probably are, and regardless... the structure of media institutions doesn't allow for our friends to have much impact, but all that is not so important if publicly sharing information is (almost) always a bad idea.)

but of course in real life we are not so clearly enemies and not-enemies, so...

i will say that the most exciting moment in occupy oakland for me was when the occupiers physically kicked out the media. much more exciting than rejecting the cops (not to downplay that either, of course).

my perfect vision of counter-narratives includes yiddish.
or any other of the pidgins that came into being for people who had to be able to talk to each other without their enemies understanding what they were saying.
false motherfucking cognates, bitches. that's the shit.
but that takes the kind of strong subculture that we haven't had since the german/russian immigrants. sigh.
by (53.1k points)
strongly agreed, misdirection or downright incomprehensibility (maybe even simple silence) is the way to go when the media (or any non-friend/ally) is around. unless there is a specific message you desire to convey to them.

i kind of get the idea behind communiques for direct actions, but in today's world, i would never risk a communique (and therefore, the action itseslf) being tied back to me. ego (or the insecurity that underlies it in this context) seems to be the downfall of far too many, from dictators to artists to radicals.