Anarchists and others have long been critical of the function of the media itself. Not all visibility is good visibility; the authorities and their supporters often use media coverage to frame social movements to the public as an antisocial threat, in order to legitimize violence against them.
Yet it’s not always possible to avoid press coverage; in the information age, it’s spin or be spun. When we act effectively in pursuit of social change, media outlets will seek to represent us to the general public—and unless we can disrupt their narratives, most people will see us through their eyes.
When we engage with the media, we must not imagine that they will promote our ideas; we have to accomplish that on our own through our own channels. (At best, we can use media appearances to direct people to those channels, like the organization that insisted on only answering interviews in front of a banner displaying their website.) Rather, we are engaging in a subtle war of position in which we seek to prevent the authorities from alienating others from us and to undermine the narratives that legitimize their violence. We must always balance the possible gains to be made in legitimacy and visibility against the risks of making ourselves a higher profile target.
We offer the following suggestions in hopes of helping you navigate your interactions with the media safely.
The text is available online here.