Re: [sixties-l] Value of street demos

From: Richard Waddell (
Date: Sun Aug 20 2000 - 03:33:48 CUT

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    Ted Morgan wrote:

    >... But,
    the real problem, as I see it, is
    >that demonstrations that are trying to articulate a radical critique --a
    >of the system which encompasses media, legislatures, & elections-- find
    that the
    >media are closed off to that point of view, to a radical critique.
    >media are no more capable of comprehending truly radical criticism, than
    >are of disassociating from & ignoring market imperatives. That's why we
    see so
    >many articles on the recent LA-Philly demonstrations that, well, just don't
    >it,' that are asking 'what DO these people want?' [And of course, that
    other side
    >of the media --very much market driven-- is riveted by the various
    >of the "alien other" represented in the 'bizarre' behaviors, attire, etc.
    >yes, age) of protesters.
    >So, it's a very tough dilemma.
    > ....

    Is it really so tough? Our points of contact with the media are reporters.
    Our strategy, then, should be to help reporters do their work. They need
    our guidance and want it. (I was not among the demonstrators, but have
    empathy for some of their goals (as I understand them), and I find it easier
    to use the first-person perspective)

    How do reporters work? Good reporters DON'T take conclusions and run with
    them. They want quotes, photos, and other information that are related and
    tell a story -- want readers to draw their own conclusions. Its easy to
    get quotes, photos, etc. -- but if this information does not hang together,
    reporters will report what they see -- a bunch of people making a fuss about
    vague generalities. That media articles 'don't get it,' and have to ask
    'what DO these people want?' represents our failing, not theirs. It's true
    that media are market driven. That's why they don't waste space on
    unfocused demonstrations.

    To be taken seriously, we have to articulate what we want or dont want.
    Most of us can do this as individuals, but individual demonstrations are not
    taken seriously. Unfortunately, thats the way demonstrations in Philly and
    LA were perceived -- as demonstrations by individuals and by small (and
    insignificant) groups.

    If we want demonstrations to be effective (and why else would we
    demonstrate?), then why not prepare more thoroughly for the events. The
    media reported some tactical preparation, but where were the strategic
    preparations? Where was the collaboration among groups to generate
    themes -- core demands? How could we use this collaboration to add
    legitimacy to our demands? Finally, for even more legitimacy, why not
    collaborate with the people -- those for whom we claim to demonstrate?

    Richard Waddell
    Bartlesville, Oklahoma

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