• Civilmedia 08: Day 1: Free Media! (Debi Withers)
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Civilmedia 08 – „Cultures – Participaton – Dialogue“: The Civilmedia is an annual international UnConference, organised by Radiofabrik Salzburg in co-operation with VFRÖ. This year it took place at the end of the „European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008“ from 4th to 6th of December. In bringing together international and national alternative media practitioners, researchers, policy makers, activists, and community development workers, Civilmedia08 reviewed the importance of community media and Web 2.0 for intercultural dialogue in Europe. More details at. http://www.civilmedia.eu/

Contribution:
Free Media! (Debi Withers)

This panel will look at the example of free/ easily accessible media economies in the distribution of ideas and ideologies about migration and asylum in the UK, exploring how they are e/affectively countered by participatory Web 2.0 tools used by anti-deportation organisers.

While free daily newspapers such the Metro (who have an estimated readership of 1.5 million a day) are increasingly including right wing articles that perpetuate the idea of the illegal worker and the ‚unwanted visitor‘ trespassing on British shores (Metro, 23/9/08) and mainstream TV programmes which are funded by the UK Border Agency are doing sympathetic fly on the wall documentaries about UK Border Officers (Border Patrol, Sky TV, 2008); no borders groups and anti-deportation campaigners are drawing on participatory Web 2.0 tools to challenge these messages. Access to user friendly media tools that combine different media strategies (video, sound, image, minute-by-minute blog updates) are an effective and, importantly, affective tool in the armoury of anti-deportation organisers. These tools offer the possibility of personalising the relation between demonised groups and individuals in society (which asylum seekers are one), creating counter affective strategies that disrupt this depersonalisation in mainstream media.

D.i.y media uncompromisingly offers the potential for people to tell their own stories in their own voices and not be subject to co-option by a hegemonic media that in no way cares about their interests. As groups become ever more adept at conveying their anti-racist messages to the public (which include key political and media actors) these participatory web tools offer the potential to fragment the homogeneity of representation in the British media that overwhelmingly supports the inhumane deportation regime which deports and imprisons thousands of vulnerable people every year – whilst also gleaning huge profits from it.

In terms of departure, these tools offer the potential to show how easy it is for people to do it themselves and therefore not rely on dominant media voices. d.i.y reporting, within these current technological conditions, are sophisticated enough, personal enough and user friendly enough, to disrupt mainstream media production and present a different, more e/affective means of communication. In so doing, they offer new opportunities for hope and interconnection.

This presentation will draw on analysis of the Metro newspaper, and anti-deportation campaigns such as Keep Babi safe in Cardiff and Prossy Kakooza must stay! Both campaigns deploy these combined media strategies in the methods I describe. Details of the campaigns can be found here: http://noborderswales.wordpress.com/campaign-to-stay/keep-babi-safe-in-cardiff/, and here: http://www.mccmanchester.co.uk/prossy.htm

debi withers is a member of the feminist activist forum www.feministactvistforum.org.uk, no borders south wales http://noborderswales.wordpress.com and the trans-global no borders network.