Tag Archives: VOTV01.5

Comment faire face au fascisme?

Yannis Youlountas parle de son film “Ne vivons plus comme des esclaves” – un documentaire qui fait le tour des actions, des journaux alternatifs, des radios rebelles et lieux d’occupation et d’autogestion qui se multiplient dans une Grèce en crise.

Pourquoi une mise en ligne gratuite? Youlountas souhaite que l’accès gratuit au film participera à faire réfléchir les gens et contribue à étendre le débat sur la nécessité de rompre avec la marchandisation du monde et de l’humain.

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Pierre Schoeller parle du pouvoir

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Résistances – un festival unique

J’ai passé deux jours cette semaine au 17ème édition du festival de films Résistances à Foix en France. Ils se sont donné comme objectif le suivant:

…de promouvoir un cinéma rarement diffusé sur les écrans, pour créer un salutaire étonnement, faire connaître d’autres regards et d’autres cinéastes que ceux du prêt-à-penser habituel.

Alors bravo – ils l’ont bien reussi.

En voici une photo. Je vais télécharger plusieurs interviews vidéo avec des réalisateurs et organisatrices sur la theme l’exercice du pouvoir. Ils sortiront pendant les jours qui suivent via cette chaine Youtube

An audience member at the Résistances film festival in Foix, France. July 11, 2013. Photo Patrick Chalmers.

An audience member at the Résistances film festival in Foix, France. July 11, 2013. Photo Patrick Chalmers.

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And the winner isn’t…

Picture 1

Development reporting suffers exactly the same sort of problems as does  journalism that purports to cover conventional politics and economics – probably worse even. Too much focus on official sources and too little questioning of mainstream Western ideas about what countries and their citizens must do to “develop”. All the arguments of Fraudcast News with bells on when it comes to journalists failing to examine the realities of power, where true power lies and what ordinary people can do about it.

I thought it worthwhile spending a few days working up a grant proposal for the Innovation in Development Reporting Grant Programme run by the European Journalism Centre.

If it worked, I would get paid to do the journalism I attempt to champion in Fraudcast News while also leaving behind some of the same techniques for others who might do the same.

The idea, simple enough, was to produce a series of smartphone video reports from Mali’s  Inner Niger Delta asking the question: “Whose development for Mali?” Rather than just present another foreign perspective on resource grabbing, the idea had been to conduct a mobile phone video report training for Malians, leaving behind the means for local people to then tell their stories as they wished rather than relying on outsiders.

Had the proposal succeeded, I would have been part of a visionOntv training team working together with local and international NGOs working on the ground in Mali. It didn’t, the judges deciding instead to award grants to a variety of ideas shared across a number of media outlets from across Western Europe.

I wasn’t blown away by the winners. None strikes me as addressing the underlying assumptions of “aid” and “development” set against the effects of global trade, banking, financial markets and the rest as they benefit rich countries and global corporations. Shame – it would have been good to have had an opportunity put the ideas into effect with some sort of budget in hand.

Sour grapes? I hope not.

This was the failed proposal:

Development dilemmas in Mali – whose tale to tell?

Malians will go to the polls this July with two military coups and a French-led assault on Tuareg separatist and Islamist rebel groups fresh in their memories. Yet what difference will elections make, however “free and fair”, to the lives of ordinary citizens?

Even before Mali’s recent upheavals in government, subsistence farmers and fishers in the Inner Niger Delta faced ever-lower water levels during annual monsoon floods. While climate change might play some part, far more pressing threats come from hydroelectric dams and river diversions for massive, often foreign-owned irrigation projects.

Locals complain of national politicians who ignore their plight. Bamako leaders, their ears bent towards external creditors, donors and their advisers, promote impossible development models. While chosen policies might boost abstract measures of economic health, they also ruin local livelihoods and the natural environment.

No news there – Mali faces the same economic binds as poor and not-so-poor countries the world over. All struggle with questions of how to meet their populations’ basic needs without paupering citizens and their environments. Only the strongest dare question Western development orthodoxies. Most of them, saddled with debt, fall prey to strings-attached foreign investments, debt-led growth models or demands for privatisations and deregulation. The evident damages of such policies is ignored in the rush to “develop”.

Mali’s various versions of the problem play out in domestic cotton production, gold mining and livestock rearing. None illustrates it better than water, lifeline to communities dotted along riverbanks and seasonal islands across the Inner Niger Delta. Their river’s annual rise and fall follows a cycle quite unlike the ever-upwards demands of compound growth charts. Projects promising fat returns for distant investors, and payback for historic creditors, spell devastation and displacement for locals. Abstract policy becomes practical reality at the sluice gates, where operators decide who gets what water when, the weaker and voiceless invariably losing out.

The global crisis of capitalism, now an open debate in rich countries, has been clear to the world’s poor during decades of Western development policies. Their voice has gradually grown stronger and more authoritative, thwarting biased agendas in world trade and climate talks and driving business at the UN’s General Assembly. As yet they lack the power to counterweight the agenda of rich-country governments, corporations and financial markets. With conventional institutions deadlocked and bereft of fresh ideas, civil societies around the world are among the few offering hopes of alternatives.

This assignment will amplify those grassroots voices and foster civil society dialogue in Mali and beyond. It will bypass gatekeepers in governments and conventional media by publishing mainly direct to the internet. Three highly experienced reporter-trainers will use smartphones to make multiple video reports in the Delta and teach local stakeholder groups to do the same. Their reporting techniques, perfected by London-based NGO visionOntv, cut out the costly time-dumps of video capture, editing and encoding. Reporters’ bi-lingual output, combined with that of workshop participants, will offer multiple perspectives on Mali’s water dilemmas, opening a wider window on development questions themselves.



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Stand aside George

People’s budgets

The Chancellor George Osborne was talking of his plans to cut a further £10 billion from the UK’s annual welfare budget as I drove through rush-hour traffic to Kingston-upon-Thames.

News of his crowd-pleasing speech to the Conservative party conference spouted from the radio as I wondered how such questions might be decided with more accountability to the public.

Just what might UK finances look like if ordinary people had greater say over how much money gets raised in taxes and where to spend it?

Read on here….

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William Cobbett – dead radical, dead relevant

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People’s budgets – our cash, why not our call?

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People’s budgets or the same-old unaccountable ones?




The basic message of Fraudcast News is pretty simple, you sort of can’t miss it in the subtitle – How Bad Journalism Supports Our Bogus Democracies.

Working from back to front – the bogusness of our democracies is that ordinary citizens get nothing like the influence implied by the word “democracy” – which the Ancient Greeks defined as government by the people.

The UK  budget process is a case in point, consisting of rounds of closed-door horse trading between government departments and ministers. The latest City-loving Chancellor then waves about a battered red briefcase for the media before delivering some crowd-pleasing stunts at the Dispatch Box to hide the fact that most ordinary people are getting stiffed while status quo money holders carry on swimmingly. Gross over-simplification, of course, but it covers the last 30 years of British government relatively well, save for pre-election sweetener budgets and some of Gordon Brown’s giveaways.

The problem is, ordinary people get not a look in on what is the most important function of elected governments. The same problem occurs at lower tiers of government and let’s not even talk about the European Union.

It doesn’t have to be this way, which is why I’m excited to be going along to report on a People’s Budget event in Kingston-upon-Thames on October 8.

This clip explains why such an approach can transform local governance, improving its accountability, transparency and the fairness of its revenue raising and spending.

So rather than “bogus” democracy – we get something more like real democracy.

And bad journalism? It’s all journalism that ignores the bogusness of our current governance systems, at every level, which is pretty much all mainstream journalism.

After that build up, I hope it’s a good night.

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No weddings, no funerals – phone hacking victims lay out case for media reform

Actor Hugh Grant tells a public rally for media reform how press problems go way beyond Murdoch. Photo by Patrick Chalmers

The crimes and misdemeanours of large sections of the British media were aired by their various victims during a public rally for Media Reform at Westminster Central Hall in central London on Thursday evening. The question on people’s lips was what will be their punishment and whether the ongoing Leveson Inquiry will be able to bring meaningful reforms either to British journalism or the political establishment it pretends to watch over.

Marc Barto and I elbowed our way through the crowds to land a series of video interviews with some of them, though Hugh Grant proved adept at dodging our efforts to engage him. No matter with the likes of former Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames and others on hand to give first-hand accounts of their thorough maulings by the media.

Rounding off the evening, Labour MP Tom Watson explained how grassroots pressure for reform will be critical once the inquiry reports later this year, when pressure on MPs to water down proposals is likely to be intense.

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What’s the point of documentary film festivals?

I’ve spent some of the past few days working with Glenn McMahon on covering the  Human Rights Watch Festival 2012 in London for visionOntv.

We ended our interview series by asking HRW’s Andrea Holley on her organisation’s thinking about the hows and whys of these video fests. Are they preaching to the choir, reaching out to new audiences or bringing real stories to the often-dry and abstract facts and figures?

As well as answering that question, Andrea explains how HRW selects the documentaries it screens and how film makers can pitch their finished stories.

The no-edit interview was shot using a Samsung Galaxy SII smartphone with an audio splitter and a basic microphone following visionOntv’s mobile reporting template. The reason I like the approach so much, and recommend it in the conclusions of my book Fraudcast News as a basic tool for citizen journalists, is because it cuts out so many of the hurdles to getting video news out there quickly.

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