Those involved in the struggle against capitalism justly view the media with suspicion. Capitalists, after all, own the newspapers and TV stations and are, of course, deeply hostile to any movements which challenge their order. At best the media ignore protests. At worst they portray protesters as deranged fanatics.
We all know that sympathetic journalists such as Paul Foot and Mark Thomas are the exception rather than the rule. Yet it's better campaigning against the closure of a nursery or fighting the building of an unnecessary road if other people know about what you are doing. We have our own means of spreading information, but the mainstream media still provide the best way of reaching a mass audience.
So how do we make use of the media without letting them show us in the worst possible light? Campaigner and Guardian columnist George Monbiot provides the answers in his very useful pamphlet An Activist's Guide to Exploiting the Media. It gives activists some great advice on how to exploit the media without the media exploiting us.
It sets out ways we can attract positive media attention, and explains how to talk to journalists in terms even they can understand and can't easily distort. Monbiot has a wonderfully low opinion of most journalists, and in this punchy, funny and informative pamphlet he shows us how we can make the sheer idleness of the average hack work for us.
The appendix, which gives contact details for the key TV stations and newspapers, is alone worth the price of the pamphlet. The pamphlet is full of practical examples-how to write a press release and follow it up, how deadlines and papers work, what makes a newsworthy story, and much more.
The anti-capitalist struggle is a battle on many fronts. This pamphlet gives us much needed ammunition in the information war. No one fighting for 'hearts and minds' can be without it.
An Activist's Guide to Exploiting the Media, by George Monbiot, £1. Available from Bookmarks (include 19p postage), 1 Bloomsbury Street, London WC1B 3QE. Phone 020 7637 1848.