How to make sure the media delivers for us

Session report:

Here are some useful tips in media handling for campaigners from the panel’s presentations:

  • It’s a good time to be selling in to media outlets (especially print), as they are so short-staffed and struggling to originate enough content for their publications, in many cases, meaning if you do their work they may well print it.
  • Establish relationships with journalists – build up trust and recognition, because it makes selling your story in much easier, and means you can feel more confident about being accurately represented
    Differentiate between journalists who are ‘on your side’ and those who aren’t- it’s insulting for supportive journalists when they get treated as the enemy.
  • Simplify as much as possible – not only in the releases and quote but in your talking to journalists – they are rarely experts in what they’re writing about and need clear explanations if they’re going to cover something.
  • Offer it to your chosen journalist first – it’s rare that they’ll be able to publish something that’s been published elsewhere first.
  • Stereotyping in coverage of particular groups is something that journalists often lapse into when they don’t have the time to cover a story properly. Making sure they have good relationships with people who challenge those stereotypes is a big part of making sure they don’t use them.
  • The internet is changing the way news is covered – increasing user-generate content even in mainstream news outlets, and offering a range of opportunities for investigative journalism that weren’t there before (although lower staffing at many news outlets mitigates against that).
  • Social networking, especially Twitter, creates different opportunities around rolling coverage, although it can be hard to seperate out what’s genuinely interesting from the massive volume of things which get posted.

Session description

Campaigners know how important it is to use the media, both to mobilise and influence. But does the constantly shifting character of the media change the opportunities for campaigners? What are the new opportunities for the netroots? And how can we ensure we’re making the most of them?

We’ll look at a variety of examples of the way in which campaigners interact with the media, including:

  • Relationships with traditional media: generating coverage
  • Shining a light on corruption
  • Making the social networking weather
  • Challenging the rhetoric: demanding accuracy, changing the tone in reporting

There will be plenty of opportunity to question panellists and discuss together what we can do to make sure the media delivers, and lessons we can learn from elsewhere.


  • Hannah Lownsbrough, 38 Degrees
    Hannah has been Campaigns Director at 38 Degrees since August 2009. She’s also worked on campaigns with Friends of the Earth, Stop Climate Chaos, Crisis Action and Avaaz and was previously a researcher at Demos. She is a trustee for Crisis and is currently Chair of the Climate Alliance.
  • Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror
  • Samira Shackle, New Statesman
  • Johann Hari, The Independent