International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) Introduction by Nada Alwadi Organizers and strategists of nonviolent movements often struggle in dealing with the mainstream news media. Some consider it their enemy, because coverage can be patchy or inaccurate. Others unrealistically expect the media to advocate for their causes. Yet few resources for activists have provided a reliable explanation of how an effective relationship between a movement and the media might look, and how movement participants can best approach the mainstream media in order to generate interest.
The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) has helped develop “Pressing Your Case: Nonviolent Movements and the Media,” an educational video series to explore ways that nonviolent campaigns and movements can better relate to world media. It features four sessions, hosted by internationally known news anchor Riz Khan, and written and produced by LikelyStoryMedia@gmail.com in collaboration with Howard Barrell, a journalist and activist during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, who is now a senior lecturer in journalism at Cardiff University. This series discusses best practices in enhancing the value of media coverage that campaigns receive. “Pressing Your Case” interviews many activists, resistance leaders and scholars, including the Nobel Peace Prize laureates Aung San Suu Kyi and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the distinguished scholar of peace and conflict studies Dr. Mary Elizabeth King. Throughout the series, interviewees provide their own stories and expertise which together offer original and highly useful information.
The second session provides a detailed explanation of a movement’s potential audiences and the best ways to reach them. This includes a more nuanced look at messaging, creating a visual identity, and evoking the human drama present in many effective stories. In this session activists learn that it is often best to deal with bad publicity straight away — and learn how to do so.
The third session lays out the elements of a good story. Activists learn that for their purposes a good story usually focuses on a central character, often delivers a clear, positive message, and connects to what is already in the news. This session also provides tips for activists on how to become a good source and how to give effective interviews.
The fourth session encourages organizers and activists to create their own media and provide self-coverage for their movements, wherever possible, including the use of new technologies. In considering the risks and advantages of self-coverage, activists learn how it can produce substantive and riveting stories and increase their chances of reaching domestic, diaspora, and global audiences.
If activists want the help of the media, they need to understand how journalists work and how they develop and present their stories. “Pressing Your Case” is a unique tool in helping to orient and guide activists and campaign leaders in how to understand and deal with the mainstream media.
Editions of this video will be available in several languages.
Nada Alwadi is a Bahraini independent journalist, writer and researcher. She covered the 2011 crackdown in Bahrain for several international media outlets including USA Today. She is a co-founder of the Bahrain Press Association.