In the past year or so, the bottom feeders of the press managed to write many lurid stories about comrades in the UK and our networks, which have not only invaded people’s privacy but have put them at risk from the state and fash. These journalists infiltrated our protests and social events, took close range pictures, trawled social media and pieced together sensationalist and often wildly inaccurate pieces about individuals, and put footage on the internet that led to people being targeted by the cops.
While I expect no better of the media, I do expect us to put up more of a fight. The tolerance of the broader London anarchist/anti-authoritarian scene for the presence of journalists on our demos, and sometimes in our spaces (at times even on invitation!), is exceptional and I’ve witnessed it in few other anarchist milieus. Why is this? Is it mere slackness, a fear of rocking the boat, or are people actually buying the liberal bullshit from the likes of the NUJ about “freedom of expression”? A combination of the above seems the likely contender.
In many cases, the widespread use of “social” media means that information is simply given to hacks on a plate; they need only copy and paste a few Arsebook quotes, and download some photos that the user themselves has put on their profile to come up with a story, such is the quality of the mainstream media. Obviously, people need to wise up to this and close down their social media accounts, or at the very least clean them up.
However, as has previously been pointed out, journalists and photographers are also widely tolerated on our demos. This is sometimes because there are far too many parasites salivating behind their cameras, and not enough of us to feel like we can stop them. Other times, the likes of Russia Today (now ‘Ruptly’) appear to use hidden cameras to live-stream from inside demos, on one occasion, showing a group of comrades changing their clothes in the belief they were hidden from view. Live-streamers from RT/Ruptly have been confronted a couple of times when caught out, but more people need to be aware of this, and be on the lookout willing to take the initiative to challenge them.
On a few occasions, people have put two and two together and have managed to identify reporters or photographers who frequently attend protests. For example, ‘Rachel Megawhat’, the right-wing Breitbart photographer and journo pictured below, regularly attended London demos over the past couple of years, including those organised by No Borders activists and Class War. Being nondescript, she was able to go undetected for a while, however, she was identified and then kicked out of numerous protests – usually against the will of whining press-lovin liberals.
While we shouldn’t get too paranoid or overly hung up on what the media has to say about us, their actions can of course have serious consequences. One example being Barnaby Nerberka, another protest regular (also pictured below). Nerberka uploaded extremely compromising footage of the Scumoween riots onto the Guardian site, which was then used by the cops to put out its ‘wanted’ notices, contributing to mass arrests and possible serious sentences.
If we don’t want to put each other at risk or give them a story on a plate, we need to start making a more concerted effort to keep these hacks out of our protests and spaces. This means taking the time to write our own reports rendering them completely redundant, familiarising ourselves with some of their faces, being willing to boot them out, masking up, using different names, and generally fomenting a culture of antagonism towards the press and photography in ‘our’ spaces. They need us, not the other way round, whatever you might hear to the contrary from the media and their liberal supporters.
To this end, here is a spotter card featuring the mugs of some particularly obnoxious journalists, photographers and corporate film-makers who for their own personal advancement, have trodden over the lives of people who actually believe in something other than monetary gain and have taken risks to fight for it. These individuals have either recently written sensationalist pieces about individuals or groups or have uploaded compromising photos or footage of comrades. Remember their faces and make sure that their presence is not tolerated in our spaces.