Where Media Justice and Transformative Organizing Overlap

AMP is thrilled to share this report produced by the Transformative Media Organizing Project (TMO), in collaboration with the MIT Center for Civic Media and Research Action Design: Out for Change: Towards Transformative Media Organizing – A Strengths/Needs assessment of LGBTQ and Two-Spirit media work in the United States.

Drawing from participatory research with more than 200 LGBTQ and Two-Spirit organizations, the report highlights patterns and innovations in transformative media organizing from across the country. It makes powerful recommendations to funders, media makers and organizations for how and why to support this important work.

Print copies of Out for Change: Towards Transformative Media Organizing are available for purchase here.

Transformative media organizing is “a liberatory approach to integrating media, communications, and cultural work into movement building. It lies at the place where media justice and transformative organizing overlap.”

At AMP, we love this approach because it resonates strongly with our definition of media-based organizing: “any collaborative process that uses media, art, or technology to address the roots of problems and advance holistic solutions towards a more just and creative world.”

Media-making and cultural production are at the core of both of these approaches to social change organizing. Media-making and cultural production are not ends in and of themselves, but processes that facilitate both the personal transformation of individuals and the structural transformation of oppressive systems.

Overwhelmingly, the organizations highlighted within the TMO report are working at the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, and other axes of identity. From these intersections, the recommendations they have developed are broadly relevant and useful to people doing, funding, or supporting all types of media-based organizing.

TMOP report graphic
Infographic from the Out for Change report.

Some highlights from the report:

For funders:

  • Support and trust organizations to do media work in ways that they want and need. Move beyond the tendency to measure success by counting mentions in mainstream media, website clicks, likes, comments, and shares on social media.
  • Support intersectional media work that reflects the complex realities of our communities, which is often under-resourced in comparison to single-issue media campaigns.
  • Recognize that transformative impacts, such as leadership development, healing, and personal and organizational growth, although perhaps the most difficult to measure, are among the most powerful.

For media-makers:

  • Don’t sensationalize. Use the language used by the person you are speaking with to describe them and their situation and stick to the story they are telling, not the one that you think will cause the biggest splash.
  • Create clear accountability mechanisms and ethical representation practices when partnering with organizations. For example, create a community advisory group to review your media project’s message, and any “action asks” very early in the production process.

For organizations:

  • Ground media work in community action. Recognize that we are not going to win with online-only strategy; our communities are the heart of our movements.
  • Use media work as an opportunity to build grassroots leadership by supporting participants to gain skills, build relationships, express themselves creatively, heal and grow along the way.
  • Plan for and promote safety, security, and harm reduction online through workshops and educational materials. Develop materials for securing informed consent for the use of images, testimony, and other forms of media that have the potential to be widely disseminated around the globe through the Internet.

We encourage you to read through the full set of recommendations in the report, along with the powerful examples of transformative media organizing, campaign success stories and deep exploration into the barriers, needs, and opportunities present in this type of work.

You can view an interactive version of the report, download a summary version, or download the complete report here.

Print copies of “Out for Change: Towards Transformative Media Organizing” are available for purchase here.

Also, stay tuned for announcements about the upcoming series of free public skillshares that the Transformative Media Organizing Project is hosting! You can find out more information here.

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