Grass roots media galvanise to tackle hate speech

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While debate rages about how to stop hate speech on social media, a movement of volunteers across the UK is tackling the so-called ‘alt media of hate’, in their own backyards – and on a shoestring.

Community radio stations and local media projects, run by and for the communities that they serve, are set to share their experiences with a global group at the cutting edge of grassroots action against social media hate.

Media organisations working for a more accountable and diverse media such as the UK’s small licensed community radio stations, investigative cooperative Bristol Cable and global charity against information poverty Internews are to meet at the 2017 Community Media Conference, that is to be followed by the 2017 Community Radio Awards.

The event organiser, the Community Media Association (CMA), which has been participating in the European led journalist campaign Media Against Hate during 2017, is set to use this year’s annual gathering of members to address concerns about the rise of ‘alt-right’ media as well as the global corporatisation of media.

  • Who: Grassroots radio, TV, and print media
  • What: Voices In A Changing World – Community Media Conference
  • Where: Ujima Radio, The Station, Silver Street, Bristol BS1 2AG
  • When: Saturday 23 September 2017

Chair of the Community Media Association, Lucinda Guy, says:

‘People often turn to social media when mainstream media does not speak to them. But there is a third way. A third sector of locally owned not-for-profit and highly regulated radio stations has been broadcasting since 2002 and is leading the way in giving a voice to hidden communities. Most importantly they are healing divisions rather than exacerbating them as social media can; operating as a kind of ‘alt media of hope’. So rather than wait for commercial giants such as Facebook to censor the alt media of hate, the answer lies much closer to home. There’s a quiet revolution happening under our noses, which the CMA continues to support.’

Ujima Radio, who champion African-Caribbean and other BME communities in Bristol and were Station of the Year at last year’s Community Radio Awards, are hosting the event in Bristol. Roger Griffith, Consultant and Chair of Ujima Radio, says: 

‘Mainstream media doesn’t appeal to our communities because no one looks like them; the musical content is aimed at middle England. We’re speaking for a community that feels voiceless, and as a result have audiences from Bristol to the world – African, Asia, Caribbean and the US. We share African and Caribbean history through arts and culture such as dance, music, literature and poetry rather than hammering people over the head with it!’

Ajit Singh, Co-founder and Programming Manager of Desi Radio, who serve the Panjabi community in London, says:

‘We take a very gentle approach as our communities have historically been quite divided along religious, caste and political lines. Initially people would not participate in our discussion programmes. We were not impatient; this was silence we had to challenge. We’d never before had a voice to express ourselves. So we asked questions: about religious divisions, caste divisions, gender and political divisions. 15 years later we’re tackling even the most entrenched taboos and stereotypes like women’s rights, the idea of God and martyrdom. Our approach is to promote greater involvement of ordinary people in debate on radio; encourage political and civic participation; and to embrace British culture and values as citizens of this multicultural society.’

Dr Caroline Mitchell, Senior Lecturer in Radio, University of Sunderland and researcher into use of radio by minorities for European project Transnational Radio Encounters, says:

‘Local media has a huge role to play to increase tolerance and reduce discrimination, particularly in areas that feel politically disenfranchised. In Sunderland, community radio station Spark is working in partnership with Friends of the Drop In for Asylum Seekers and Refugees (FODI) , a local support group. The result is training and broadcast programme called Global Sunderland, nominated for Community Development Project of the Year at this year’s CMA awards. Funded by the Art Council’s Creative People and Places programme, the participants are producing broadcasts on their own terms, about their lives and interests.’

The results of the 2017 Community Radio Awards, showcasing the successes of the community radio sector, will also be announced after the Conference.

@community_media on Twitter, Community Media Association on Facebook

2017 Community Media Conference speakers

Lucinda Guy, Chair, Community Media Association

Roger Griffith, Ujima Radio, Bristol

Rob Watson, De Montfort University

Mary Dowson, BCB Radio, Bradford

Sauossen Ben Cheikh, Internews

Sid Ryan, The Bristol Cable

Alec Saelens, The Bristol Cable

Hannah Parry, Viewpoint Community Media, Swindon

Steve Buckley, SheffieldLive

Danny Lawrence BEM, The Radio Hub, south-east England

Cormac Lawler, Community Radio Toolkit, Manchester

Caroline Mitchell, University of Sunderland

Nick Dunkerley, Hindenburg, Denmark

Adrian Sinclair, Heads Together, Leeds

Magz Hall, Radio Arts, Kent

Sam Richards and Lona Kozik, Sounding Coastal Change

Maggie Ayre, BBC Radio 4 producer, Bristol

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