Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
Slaney Street is a new Birmingham-based co-operative media organisation. Initially starting as a modest blog last year, it has just held its official founding conference and is gearing up for its fourth print edition to be distributed free across the city.
It aims to uncover the stories that go unreported by mainstream news corporations and correct the institutional racism and classism inherent in publications like the Birmingham Mail. Its mission statement is to ‘inform and educate’ and ‘move people to action’. The editorial board is keen to promote the voices of those involved in struggles which don’t often reach the pages of the Mail.
We distribute the papers for free across the city, not only because we are keen to move away from the caricature of the left-wing newspaper as a niche thing touted at the doors of conferences to people who are already involved, but because we believe our membership-supported funding model gives people ownership of the organisation. Instead of a consumer relationship, the news is free but people pay membership dues to support the organisation itself.
In its early days, the internet was touted as a ‘free’ force that would decentralise media and make it accessible to everyone. There have been some successful experiments using the internet, and it has now become the main organ through which people get their daily news. Sadly though it hasn’t quite been democratised in the way people hoped it would be.
Much as Murdoch and his ilk control the world of print, the web has been policed, censored and distorted by existing power structures. News on the web, in print and on the radio is not democratic, and on the whole propagates the views the elite want the rest of us to hear.
As co-editor Kelly Rogers says, one of the key reasons Slaney Street is of such benefit to the wider community in Birmingham is because of its ability to support community and activist groups. ‘The people working in these organisations are often too engaged in their struggles to have effective media outlets; they often suffer a heavy workload; they are run primarily by volunteers who have jobs, families, personal lives and the weight of the world to cater for.
‘Individuals volunteering for these groups fighting for vulnerable people, disabled people, the poor, survivors of violence, etc, tend to come from those groups themselves, bringing a whole new set of challenges.’ We aim to act as a megaphone for groups to get their news out to the wider populace and relieve them of the onerous task of self-promotion.
How it worksSlaney Street’s conference
Membership of the co-op allows people to participate in the democratic processes of the meeting and attend training sessions such as community media. Payment is made on a sliding scale beginning at £3/month. Most importantly, membership ensures Slaney Street’s can be distributed throughout Birmingham. The paper also devotes a portion of its pages to cheap advertising for ethical groups. Advertising is ten times cheaper than our ‘competitors’, enabling us to act as a mouthpiece for campaigning groups without the capacity to print and distribute leaflets city-wide.
All members of Slaney Street have equal decision-making power: they can run for editor, write articles and vote on policy. Minutes of our board meetings are published online and people have space to publish their disagreements if a decision does not go their way or, in serious cases, call for a re-election of the editorial board. We aim to include a variety of political ideologies, believing that the best way to create an inquisitive, engaged and knowledgeable community is if people are able to see a plurality of viewpoints being debated and discussed in one place.
Slaney Street is one of a growing array of co-operatively run community newspapers such as the Bristol Cable and the Manchester Mule. A direction for the future could be syndication of local news stories into a national homepage dedicated to promoting commonly undocumented local news. A successful example of this model is the smoothly oiled Media Co-op in Canada, which provides high quality news and analysis covering indigenous, community and cultural issues that aren’t normally heard in mainstream Canadian media. Although it is a long way off yet, this is what we in the UK should be looking to create in the longer term.
Local co-op publications have lots to do to cultivate membership and put out regular press runs, but we are positive that we are fulfilling a growing need within our community. Our readership, authors and subscribers are increasing, because there is a need for the coverage we provide. So if you are fed up with being spoon-fed news by the corporate elite, sign up as a member of Slaney Street. And if you aren’t in Birmingham, sign up to your local news co-op – or help start a new one!
The police spend little of their time making arrests, and most crimes are not solved, writes Alex Vitale – their real purpose is social control.
Many important things happened on conference floor, reports Alex Nunns – but you wouldn’t know it from reading the newspapers
Radhika Desai says Capital by Karl Marx is still an essential read on the 150th anniversary of its publication
The Spanish state is seizing ballot papers and raiding meetings, write Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte – but it is being met with united resistance
The crunch executive meeting ahead of Labour conference agreed some welcome changes, writes Michael Calderbank, but there is still much further to go
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Universal credit isn’t about saving money – it’s about disciplining unemployed people
The scheme has cost a fortune and done nothing but cause suffering. So why does it exist at all? Tom Walker digs into universal credit’s origins in Tory ideology
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright
Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones
‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression
Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death
‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum
The rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people are not guaranteed – we must continue to fight for them
Kennedy Walker looks at the growth in hate attacks at a time when the Tory government is being propped up by homophobes
Naomi Klein: the Corbyn movement is part of a global phenomenon
What radical writer Naomi Klein said in her guest speech to Labour Party conference
Waiting for the future to begin: refugees’ everyday lives in Greece
Solidarity volunteer Karolina Partyga on what she has learned from refugees in Thessaloniki
Don’t let Uber take you for a ride
Uber is no friend of passengers or workers, writes Lewis Norton – the firm has put riders at risk and exploited its drivers
Acid Corbynism’s next steps: building a socialist dance culture
Matt Phull and Will Stronge share more thoughts about the postcapitalist potential of the Acid Corbynist project
Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power
What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains
The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it
The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going