Report from the Media Section: Left Forum 18th May 2013

On May 18th as part of the Left Forum a session was held on the future of alternative media in Ireland with the goal of facilitating how existing alternative media practitioners and groups might support each other and work together in the future.

About 25 attended the media session, including people involved with Look Left, Rabble, Liberty, Dublin Community Television and various websites and blogs. There were also some researchers in attendance from DublinCityUniversity, NUI Maynooth, NUI Cork and TrinityCollege. A number of people not yet involved in alternative/community media also attended. The meeting was very much grounded in what could be achievable in the short to medium term with a realisation of available resources.

Much of the discussion centred around the idea of an ‘aggregator’ or ‘clearing house’ website, which might collate the work being published by the various groups and publications onto a centralised website, which might attract a wider audience. The and were cited as examples from the mainstream. There was much discussion on the practicalities of such a venture and the possibilities for funding and staff.

A second area of discussion was one of the need for space, especially as relevant to production of an aggregator site. It was reported that Look Left is in the process of obtaining office space.  A third area of discussion, also related to space, was for the possibility of organising training in various areas of media production. A final area of discussion focused on the need to take part in a ‘a site of struggle’ approach to public service broadcasting, intervening in discussions around RTE and the new broadcasting bill as well as the use of state assets, such as the mast network and the UHF spectrum.

The meeting agreed to establish three working groups, one into researching the possibilities of an ‘aggregator’ website, one to look at the area of training and a third to advance the aim of intervening in discussions around RTE and other state assets. The three groups will be reporting back with proposals.

Some participants will be meeting again during the Ourmedia alternative/community media conference being held in Dublin on the 24th and 25th of June.


New Look Left in a shop near you:

Ireland’s leading magazine for progressive news, views and solutions – available in Easons stores and selected newsagents across the country – 48 pages for just €2/£1.50

In the new issue of LookLeft:


Rising tide against austerity: Working people and the Fine Gael/Labour Government are on a collision course over the property tax and attempts to cut public sector pay, reports Kevin Brannigan

The G8 comes to town: Kevin Squires looks at the impact the 39th G8 summit will have.

Learning Division: Fifteen years ago progressives recognised the signing of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) as a positive development. However, fears that its structures would allow for communal politics to be institutionalised have been realised particularly in the provision of education, writes Justin O’Hagan.

Mobilising a generation: Young Irish people facing sharply limited opportunities at home or emigration are beginning to mobilise, reports Dara McHugh.

Precious few heroes: With his politically charged songs Dick Gaughan has inspired generations of Left activists,Kevin Brannigan caught up with the veteran Scottish folk singer during his spring tour of Ireland

No turning back from here: The Venezuelan revolution has dramatically changed not only the politics of Latin America also but the globe, reports Paul Dillon.

The tyranny of the credit rating agencies: Democratic accountability is being eroded by credit rating capitalism, writes Srinivas Raghavendra

Of live dogs and dead lions: Following the death of Hugo Chávez, Richard McAleavey assesses the Irish media’s representation of the ormer Venezuelan President.

Calling the bigots bluff: Do anti-choicers want follow through the with the logic of their argument and imprison women, asks Katie Garrett.


Petition to end Ministers grotesque pensions

Jim Connell weekend

UNITE wins Waterford Glass pensions battle

94% of young people do not want to emigrate

Why shop in a Fair Shop

Objection to Meath mining licence

Fight against privatisation in Sussex University

Bradley Manning on trial

Spanish Civil war volunteers remembered in Inchicore

Workers Beer Company seeks Irish recruits


Glass ceilings and Trade Unions: Union organiser Eira Gallagher discusses the obstacles still faced by women workers.

The Laundries are closed but the system remains: Lone parents have remained a favourite scapegoat for the self-satisfied Irish Right since the foundation of the Free State, reports Laura Caffrey.

Foxes and Hen houses: Conor McCabe maintains his steely gaze on the world of ‘high finance’

Reform from inside: Eric Olwin Wright outlines his vision of creating space for socialist advances within the capitalist economy.

Requiem for a Tory: Brian Hanley’s reflections on Margret Thatcher

Debate: Immigration – concern or opportunity? Stephen Nolan/Gavan Titley

Jemmy Hope on religion, Bill Cullen, Jim Dowson and Alex Ferguson

Tradition and Culture

Great minds think alike: The lives of William Thompson and Anna Doyle Wheeler recounted by Lily Murphy

Our rabble: James Redmond, Head of production of Dublin underground newspaper Rabble, told LookLeft why he believes building an alternative media is important and ponders how it can be done.

Anderson’s song: Barry Healy talks to Rag man Daniel Anderson

The downtrodden and the risen: Kevin Squires looks at some recent graphic novels portraying contemporary and historical peoples’ struggles

Review: Physical Resistance: A Hundred Years of Anti-Fascism by Dave Hann

Gonna shoot you down: Sam McGrath looks at the politics behind Madchester band The Stone Roses

What foot does he kick with?: Kevin Brannigan examines the role players from the Republic had in the modern history of one of Loyalism’s footballing bastions.

We are defined by the choices they make

The new Irish Independent advertisement campaign ‘we are defined by the choices we make‘ raised a few eyebrows; firstly, by using the well practiced method of not revealing what the advertisements were for a couple of days and secondly, by using some mildly provocative juxtaposed imaging with the defining choices tagline, for example a pro-choice versus pro-life badge and so on. The advertisement gives a sense of faux radicalism with images such as a bishop juxtaposed with a red condom, but in reality all the images remain safely within ideological boundaries.

The campaign also gives the appearance of there being two sides to the story; both of which you can read in the Irish Independent, before making your mind up. This of course is nonsense in itself, there usually being all sorts of sides and shades of grey. The image of private sector versus public sector represents this most continuing the trope of a direct division between the two sectors as compared to the reality of a heavily subsidised private sector and working families stretched across both. Unsurprisingly for an Irish newspaper the final image is one of property juxtaposing the buying or renting of private property, there being no other alternative.

But even allowing an artistic licence in the juxtaposition of images, upon closer inspection there are quite a number of ideological tropes and assumptions underlining these ‘choices’.

And much like the content of the newspaper itself the choices are already made. The image to jump out first and probably the most provocative image in the campaign is that of a Greek riot versus an empty O’Connell Street. And to be fair to the Indo this juxtaposition could be read in a number of ways.


While on the one hand, it could be read as a congratulatory ‘aren’t we great for not rioting’ , a more likely reading might question the so-called compliance of Ireland. Of course it does play into the trope that there has been no resistance in Ireland, which is oft repeated in the media where most forms of resistance continues to be either ignored or denounced.  And in an ironic sense, the empty O’Connell street may well represent the media’s blindness to various forms of struggle over the last number of years..


While street politics is happily ignored the next more overtly political image is far less provocative and rests comfortably within ideological norms; here, we are given the choice of de Valera (clearly representing Fianna Fail), or Michael Collins representing the Fine Gael party. Independents, small parties and indeed not so small parties are not included in this binary equation, never mind politics outside parliamentary arithmetic.

It was however the following two images that really caught my eye, two images that flash by in the television advertisement but which contain a wealth of semiotic ideology. The first shows two pregnant women, both headless and faceless. Yet even faceless we can tell immediately the polyester-clad woman on the right is clearly working class, most likely single, living on benefit and smoking and bereft of pregnant glow surrounding her linen-clad counterpart. And as the tagline tells us ‘her choices’ made her this way.


The second image is another one of class: here, we see juxtaposed those who ‘choose’ to be unemployed compared to those who ‘choose’ to emigrate. The migrants we can see (even in the rough cartoon image) are young, strong and struggling to make the best of things and making the obviously correct decision to leave the country. On the other hand the mainly fat  (and yes they are mainly fat) people who ‘choose’ to remain in Ireland as feckless doleys are seen literally dancing out of the dole office throwing their money in the air. It doesn’t take a genius to pull out the underlying message there.


The entire advertising campaign itself is  based on a key ideological trope and one which underlines much of the media response to the condition of austerity: that is that outcomes are not a result of class, structures or even economics but due to choices made by individuals. I might boldly suggest an image to the editors to complete the series…


The Future of Irish Alternative Media: Towards an Alt-Media Network?

3.15 Teachers’ Club, Parnell Square, Dublin – as part of the Left Forum

Register for the meeting here

alt mediaIn recent years there has been a flowering of Irish alternative media. Quality material is now being produced regularly in all mediums including print, blogging, radio and television. As part of the Left Forum on the 18th of May the media section invites those working in Irish alternative and community media (and those who wish to work in community and alternative media) to come together to discuss how the various publications and channels may work together in the future. The idea of a network will be discussed; such a network could be a basis for pitching articles, blogs or broadcasts to publishers and for publishers to commission articles, blogs or broadcasts. The network may also act as a basis for sharing resources, training and education and discussing funding strategies. The meeting also invites those not yet working in alternative media (but who wish to) to attend.

This meeting will be the beginning of a process which will continue with the Ourmedia international alternative media conference to be held in the city centre and DCU on the 24th and 25th of June.

Participants from the following media groups and media research schools will be in attendance, we hope more will follow:

  • Look left (Magazine)
  • Liberty (Newspaper)
  • Irish Left Review (Blog)
  • Irish Anarchist Review (Magazine)
  • Rabble (Newspaper)
  • Dublin Community Television (TV Station)
  • The Live Register (TV show)Dole
  • Spirit of Contradiction (Blog)
  • Critical Media Review (Blog)
  • Cunning Hired Knaves (Blog)
  • Anarkismo (website)
  • Workers Solidarity (Newspaper)
  • Radioactive (Radio)
  • Irish Student Left Online (Blog)
  • Soundmigration (Blog)
  • Dole TV (TV show)
  • School of Communications – Dublin City University
  • Media Centre – National University of Ireland Maynooth
  • School of Media – Dublin Institute of Technology
  • Univerity College Cork

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