One of our greatest challenges is the power that the mainstream media has over the public’s understanding of struggles for justice.
Throughout the HCHR campaign we have been battling the main beneficiary of our broken system--the health insurance industry. One key arena in which this fight is unfolding is the media.
As Vermont tries to implement our new universal healthcare system, the Insurance companies continue to fund “astroturf” groups that have a growing TV and radio presence, devised to scare people about healthcare reform. At the same time, we have seen over and over how corporate media here in Vermont and national will go out of its way to ignore and erase people’s struggles.
The Healthcare is a Human Campaign has experienced media blackouts, has been told by newspaper reporters that their newsrooms have been so deeply cut that they can’t cover major events, and witnessed extreme deference and airtime given to insurance- company funded astroturf groups.
Moreover, mainstream media in Vermont marginalizes the issues that working people care about. Our members and leaders--workers, the working poor, rural Vermonters, immigrants and refugees, young people, and retirees--are either ignored or demonized in the mainstream Vermont media. We know that as long as corporations run the mainstream media, misleading advertising and biased reporting will the be the norm.
Because of the deep connections between corporate media, big business money, and our (often broken) political systems, we understand that creating our own media is the only way that we can build upon our successes and work toward just, equitable communities. We also understand that for successful campaigns that win real change, media and organizing must be tightly linked.
Telling the untold stories of everyday struggling Vermonters is a crucial organizing tool, and helped change the framing of the healthcare debate away from profits and efficiency to human rights. These untold stories of suffering under our current healthcare system needed to be told, but are ignored in the mainstream media because of the deep connections between the mainstream corporate media and the insurance and drug companies.
The project will train and mobilize grassroots journalists and storytellers from the most marginalized Vermont communities. It will also identify and dismantle many of the structural barriers to media access that Vermonters face.
Through trainings all across the state, the People’s Media Project will demystify the media-making process, enabling every organizer in our campaign to document and expose stories that are otherwise ignored. Our campaign leaders will use video, audio, photography and the internet to link these stories to the policy and political changes that we are fighting for.
To connect our media making and organizing efforts, the People’s Media Project will build off the county-based organizing committee structure that we have already developed in our Healthcare is a Human Right campaign to develop media-making hubs across the state.