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Media Manual

The Media Manual provides an introduction how the news media works (or doesn't), and covers wire services, newspapers, radio, and television. A checklist for effective direct action media is included.

Media Manual
Coordinating media for a direct action is more art than science, and sometimes owes more to luck than either. News is a quirky, complicated, unpredictable endeavor - much like an action itself. Put the two together, and it can seem like a miracle when an action actually communicates the intended message to the desired audience. As media coordinator, your job is to work miracles.
How the News Media Works (Or Doesn't)
The structure of the U.S. and global news media is undergoing rapid change - change that may soon make outdated the concept of news (as opposed to entertainment or other "soft" information media).
Wire Services
In the U.S. there are three main wire services: the Associated Press, United Press International and Reuters. AP is by far the dominant player, with UPI struggling with near-bankruptcy in recent decades and Reuters, based in Britain, still building its American base.
Conglomeration is shrinking the number of dailies, so that most cities support only one main metropolitan paper. There are very few afternoon papers left, so newspapers are often reporting stories broken the day before by TV and radio. This can work against action coverage - what seems exciting on live radio or TV may be shrugged off by the newspaper as old news.
News radio is in some ways the most desirable coverage for an action. It's live and dramatic; during morning and afternoon "drive time" it reaches large, captive audiences; and radio reporters live for catchy soundbites (as opposed to TV reporters, who value good video footage.)
The most famous description of American TV is "a vast wasteland" - and that was 40 years ago. Now it's much worse: A study by Rocky Mountain Media Watch found that the average local TV station runs so much mayhem and fluff - crime, disaster, pets, sex, showbiz - there's almost no time for real news. The networks are more serious, but focus heavily on Washington politics. Still, a creative, timely direct action with good visuals can get coverage - and the vast wasteland has a vast audience.
Checklist for Effective Direct Action Media
Multiple checklists to go over months, weeks, days, moments before the action, and after the action has passed.