Feeling weird about the media

What a strange 7 days…

I feel like I’ve been through a shrapnel whirlwind and there are a dozen fragments lodged in my brain, any of which could either strike gold or explode any time.

One thread runs through it all – the medja. But even that has four faces. Three great positives:

  • Giles Edwards of Radio 4 was ’embedded’ in the Community Organisers intensive introductory training, staying with us throughout. His combination of enthusiasm, watchfulness and unobtrusiveness worked well, and most of all his trust-building approach put everyone at ease. He contacted me back in March and we had several long conversations about organising, the Big Society, politics, the detail and sensitivities of the programme. He visited each of the three host organisations he wanted to ‘follow’ and won their co-operation. He worked closely with Re:generate to plan his presence at the training. And he invested the time to cover the subject fairly. Now he is ‘following’ the teams of Community Organisers in their home patches. His programme is due to be broadcast in the New Year and we will pump it as hard as we can to pay back the respect shown.
  • The Hastings Observer – fantabulous coverage of Hastings Pier today, including an 8-page supplement to mark the first anniversary of the devastating pier fire of 5th October 2010. Phrases like “a new dawn has arrived” and “light at the end of the tunnel”, along with some great coverage of our new CEO, “ex-Disney man” Simon Opie. The supplement was sponsored by our local shopping centre Priory Meadow who have the lovely strapline “Supporting the Pier through thick and thin since 2006”. TBH, I was almost choked with pride – to live in this great town, to be a part of it, and to have helped make this dead pier a symbol of hope and empowerment!
  • Meridian TV – who actually said “you are perfect”! They phoned this morning, Andy turned up calm and easy-going. We went over to the pier, he set up the camera double-quick and asked me three questions. I answered in 20-second bites (by happy accident). He handed me the headphones, swivelled the camera piece and played it back for me. It was all over in half an hour and left a warm glow.

And then there’s…

  • Newsnight, who continue to occupy the opposite extreme in terms of respectful behaviour. They can’t even get the basics right (someone paid £15k is not a volunteer and we have never called them that), and have to resort to pretending the National Communities Resource Centre at Trafford Hall (rescued from dereliction by many supporters listed in full view on a wall in the training room) is a ‘mansion’ on ‘a Cheshire estate’. When they came into the training, a roomful of dedicated, skilled, exhausted people were subjected to having cameras and microphones shoved in their faces, followed to their ‘luncheon’ (sic!) and baited and patronised in every interview. I am delighted to say that Rob, Perry, Stephen and the minister for civil society Nick Hurd were all superb advocates. I’d say COMMUNITY ORGANISERS 3 : NEWSNIGHT 0.




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8 Responses to Feeling weird about the media

  1. David Wilcox says:

    Thanks Jess – great insights. Maybe medja style is set from the top … like most else. So Newsnight = Paxman, even on location. Sneery and snarky.

  2. Rob Goodwin says:

    Thanks for your kind comments Jess. I was a bit perplexed by the Downton Abbey – Trafford Hall comparisons too. I know for certain that Stephen Smith was aware of Trafford Hall’s history because I explained it to him myself over lunch….still as they say in the meeja – “never let the facts get in the way of a good story!” eh?

  3. mas says:

    David’s ‘sneery & snarky’ are apt but I don’t agree that anyone had been a good advocate. It came across badly and did nothing to demonstrate the impact of the years of experience Trafford Hall has of supporting this kind of ‘new’ approach. There are elements of truth in the history in so far as it being a ‘posh’ building in which people could feel comfortable (when previously tenants had not felt so in hotels), not that any of that has relevance to the scheme. I don’t understand what it is that Community Organisers are to be funded to do that existing community organisers couldn’t have with the kind of smaller support available in other programmes Trafford Hall runs/ran. Everything I’ve seen of ‘Big Society’ to date could have been done cheaper and better by building on existing schemes.

  4. Steve Bristol says:

    I thought you did well rob! Their narrative seems to be that we are Camerons barmy army, trying to mobilise the ‘peasants’ to replace the gaps which the public spending cuts might cause :-0 Their reports of problems in our areas, and any genuine community based action is often patronising, with the exception of Paul Mason who is ace and who wrote an amazing book on how ordinary people changed the world (“Live working and Die Fighting” http://www.natterjackpress.co.uk/books/live-working-or-die-fighting.php)

  5. Snagger says:

    Perhaps too much existing provision is bound to outdated ideology? Time to give up on sour grapes & embrace change – entertain the idea that however good existing practice might be, it hasn’t delivered the breadth and depth of change it promised. Cynicism has poisoned too many commentators but even Newsnight gave grudging recognition to this new programme.

  6. mas says:

    I hae no issue with change, except if its needless, ignorant or wasteful. From what I heard this ‘new programme’ sounded very much based on the same ‘outdated ideology’ I was instructed to work towards 16 years ago, and worked towards at Trafford Hall which at that time provided a broad range of programmes designed to support existing community organisers (and inspire the new and the young).

    Many will watch with interest to see if Big Society delivers the ‘breadth and depth of change’ it promises 😉 More realistically good luck to those fortunate to take advantage of being able to benefit from support to instigate change and improvements in their neighbourhoods – most of them I imagine will be the same people who would do those things regardless of the label on the support they receive.

  7. Snagger says:

    Maybe, maybe not. Still sounds like sour grapes though Mas. Why not apply to join the prigrame?

  8. Mas says:

    Why would I have sour grapes? Has no impact on me whatsoever beyond those already expressed. Play the game, but don’t kid yourself it’s a new one.

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