Today, several European NGOs sent out a press release denouncing the catastrophic situation in the Mediterranean that day by day looks more like a mass grave on the European Union’s southern border, and the absolute lack of vision from political leaders given the pathetic agreements in their last summit. Along with a list of we urgent measures, the text says that “Europe cannot torpedo its humanist foundations in order to give in to the racist and fascist ultra-right with a policy that once again criminalizes foreigners, migrants, those who are different and those in solidarity with them.”
Paco Vaquero is a member of Humanistas por la Renta Básica Universal. (Humanists for the Universal Basic Income). He participated in the European Humanist Forum, held recently in Madrid, as a speaker both in the working area on “Independent Journalism and Social Activism”, as well as in the area of “Politics and Social Mysticism”.
What has been the role of independent media in social transformation and what could their future role be?
Fundamentally, it is to “infiltrate” the single thought that the (single) system is trying to impose on us. Of course, this means that, in most cases, independent journalism is very much at stake: from the journalist’s honesty, to their economic survival, to their family in other cases and finally to life. All to get to the place of the facts, or the place where the facts are distorted. This is something that we will not fully appreciate, given the current disproportionate resources.
Could independent media contribute to generating the story of a new, more humane and less violent culture and break with the cultural hegemony of the mainstream media?
No doubt about it. Behind this work, or perhaps ahead of it, is an attentive look and a willingness to show the face of the distorted reality that, seductively at times – but no less violent for that matter – is being imposed on us.
To expose other viewpoints, other experiences of the same event is precisely an act of cultural action, counter-cultural if you will, that responds to an ancestral code of Humanity: Treat others as you want to be treated.
Could they help to restore the freedom of expression so threatened?
So far they’re keeping the flame burning. Just about, given the current times where it is served willy-nilly as the main dish of information, as an absolute truth that needs a garnish for the stir-fry lies, more or less subtle, to help digest the most coarse, even avoiding the sell-by dates of the information itself.
But yes, they could help to establish freedom of expression as a human right, something that, at present, is reserved without risk only for the spokespersons of the system. Right now it’s time to resist.
The media agenda does not represent the reality of citizenship and is alien to its needs and interests. Can social movements with their actions and mobilisations include an issue in the media agenda?
Definitely yes, definitely. We have experience of this in recent times, especially from movements such as the 15M in Spain, which coincided with the Occupy Wall Street, or the dignity camps years before, in the Sahara, or more recently, the mobilisations against evictions, pensioners and especially feminism which, for me, is a meeting place for many demands “for women”, which is also a “for all” and is managing to put the legal, labour, representation and other systems in check.
Clearly, the interest of all these mobilizations was not precisely to achieve a “quota” in this media agenda. They were the news because of their conviction in the struggle they are waging.
Can citizens generate information and set the media agenda?
As I mentioned in the previous question, if citizens are able to organise themselves and show their position with permanence and majority, there will have no alternative for the media but to attend to their demands. Of course, it is to be expected that they will manipulate the facts and their interpretations as much as possible. This is where the presence of independent media becomes necessary.
In relation to the motto of this forum: “what unites us”, How can we improve our joint work with the media and social movements?
The question is rightly asked, in my opinion, because it is not a question of creating a kind of independent media-social movements conspiracy that ends up doing the same thing that the big media already do.
Everyone’s work needs a meeting place, some “connections” if you will, where the truthfulness of the facts, as well as the interpretations, are reflected with total honesty.
The independent media, from their very definition, distinguish themselves not only from the official circuits -creating their own- but also from professional ethics to guide them. In other words, independent journalism is itself diverse and shows diversity of expression. The counterpart is the monopoly that we observe in the TV channels, for example, where we only disagree on the weather forecast, or the horoscope.
Social movements, also from their very definition, do not present a rigid road map in their actions, and a united front of action. But the truth is, the direction of their actions seeks to remove the current system of “welfare” enjoyed only by some people. It is in the diversity and in the common encounter that only happens when it is realised that there is no “opposition” between the different proposals, but on the contrary, complementation.
What unites us, in essence, seems to be clearly perceived, how we get together must be given a form. I have hope.
Alex Ross dedicates herself to writing and creative painting. She writes about the little beauties and the great evil of everyday life. She collaborates with the electronic magazine Neue Debatte and participated in the European Humanist Forum, recently held in Madrid, as a speaker in the “Independent Journalism and Social Activism” round table.
EHF2018: What is the role of independent media? (more…)
Daniel Cruz is a specialist in Communications, European activist, trade unionist, member of DiEM25 in the local group in Barcelona and Pressenza collaborator. He took part in the European Humanist Forum, recently held in Madrid, as a speaker at the “Independent Journalism and Social Activsm” round table.
EHF2018: What is the DIEM25 project? (more…)
Antonio Sempere. Photojournalist, known for his work on migration. He has been documenting the drama of cross-border migration for several years. He has photographed the arrival and attempts to jump the fence by sub-Saharans who arrive at the border of Morocco with Ceuta. Also the terrible situation of thousands of refugees trapped in Serbia after crossing the sea from Turkey.
He participated in the European Humanist Forum in the working group on “Independent Journalism and Social Activism” and showed part of his exhibitions “At the foot of the Fence” and “The Serbian Hell”. (more…)
Pía Figueroa participated in the European Humanist Forum, recently held in Madrid, as a speaker in the “Independent journalism and social activism” working group. Pía is Co-director of Pressenza International Press Agency, dedicated to news about peace and nonviolence. She is a humanist with a long career and the author of several monographs and books.
What is your impression of the European Humanist Forum? (more…)
Nicole Ndongala, migrant to Spain, native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, participated in the European Humanist Forum, Madrid, in her role as the director of the Karibu Association. Nicole participated in the opening session and in the working area on Women for Nonviolence.
In her intervention, she underlined the importance of considering immigrants, not as a statistics, but rather as human beings with a history and frequently difficult and tragic lives. And this is “what unites us”, according to Nicole: to give value to humanity, something she returns to in this interview. (more…)
“If they have the mass media, we will make a mass of media outlets.”
“If they have guns, we’ll have cameras.”
“If they have the banks, we have each other.”
We interviewed one of the participants of the European Humanist Forum, a speaker at the table on “Independent Media and Social Movements“. Gunther Aleksander is a philosopher, humanist and activist. Graduate in Audiovisual Communication and post-graduate in Political Philosophy. Editor of the Pressenza Agency in Brazil and producer of the QuatroV – 4V channel. (more…)