Countering war propaganda

Carly Walker reports on the launch of Media Workers Against War

More than 70 journalists, website designers and writers assembled on Monday September 24 to reactivate Media Workers Against The War. This group organised a number of workplace meetings and public rallies during the war against Serbia. Unlike then, however, Monday?s meeting was not dominated by the SWP, but saw a large number of unaffiliated people.

Called by leading Socialist Alliance activist Mike Marqusee, it was advertised as a ?strict organising meeting? and chair Jonathan Neale from the Socialist Workers Party urged people to ?limit contributions to one minute or less. Only say things that nobody has mentioned before.?

When Adrian Greenman, a supporter of the ranting Economic and Philosophic Science Review, disobeyed and started to speak up for the ?brave fighters in this guerrilla war whose attack has weakened US imperialism?, he was almost immediately shut up. ?We don?t want political speeches here; we want concrete suggestions or examples of censorship,? comrade Neale ordered. Nobody else dared to make a political point. The meeting became a story-telling exercise.

There is of course nothing wrong with giving examples of media censorship, but surely a campaign that tackles such a major question has to be clear about its aims and positions. Apparently, this ?will be discussed at a later stage?, SWP leader John Rees promised. ?There will be lots of meetings in which everybody can have their say.?

A designer for The Guardian described how ?edgy? everybody at the newspaper was. Because of its liberal stance, its writers face a lot of criticism and ?all Guardian journalists have been told not to speak on any anti-war platforms?, he said.

Tariq Ali told the meeting that he was supposed to speak on the infamous edition of Question time for which BBC director Greg Dyke later had to apologise, because it contained too many anti-American references. ?We negotiated for three days about my appearance at this show,? comrade Ali told the meeting. ?Then they asked me if I would criticise Tony Blair. ?Of course I would?, I answered. At which point they politely withdrew their invitation.?

Media Workers Against The War will use their influence in their workplaces to try to counter the pro-war mood evident in the media. Most newspapers, magazines and TV programmes seem to be supporting the war, while many of the people who work there do not.

MWATW will organise workplace meetings, public rallies and issue press statements. There is a website which will collect articles and different points of views on the war and its background.

There will be a more or less regular newspaper which will act as the organ of the Stop The War Coalition. Media Workers Against The War will meet every Monday at 7pm in the University of London Union, Malet Street.