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Frances Legg, Media Officer at the New Economics Foundation (NEF), blogs about its successful media training programme to get more progressive, diverse spokespeople into the mainstream media.


As the General Election approaches, many of us will be turning to TV and radio to make sense of the barrage of statistics and policy pledges thrown at us every day. But it is clear popular opinion is increasingly at odds with the news coverage on much of the mainstream media.


Why is it that we don’t hear more people talking on the television and radio about the dangers of climate change, the drawbacks of privatisation and the misery of inequality?  NEF has previously highlighted an acute lack of media training for people working in social, environmental and economic justice organisations.  This has created a void where voices calling for positive transformation of the economy should be heard.


Public debate desperately needs more spokespeople equipped to communicate with an audience that is tired of the status quo, receptive to new ideas and eager to engage in debate and discussion.  So in October last year NEF launched a new media training programme to help those pushing for a fairer and more sustainable economy to get their message heard in the mainstream media.


As well as mentoring campaigners from a range of sectors in how to frame and deliver their arguments effectively, we monitor the news and liaise with broadcasters to make sure media opportunities for the participants are taken.


Our spokespeople are housing campaigners, macroeconomists, green energy activists, champions of migrant rights and more.  And the chances are you’ve already seen them on your TV screens as we’ve already had a number of high-profile broadcast media appearances, including Sky News, BBC 5 Live, BBC News, Al Jazeera, LBC, Channel 4 News, BBC World Service and Russia Today.  The bookings speak for themselves, but participants also tell us what a difference our training has made.  Putting yourself out on a public platform can be scary – particularly if you’re a woman, from an ethnic minority or have a disability. The New Economy Spokesperson Network provides a community of peer support for its members. We particularly aim to promote voices that are not heard enough in the UK media: less white, middle class men and more of everyone else.


The New Economy Spokesperson Network accepts applications twice a year. The initial 3 day training course included 2 days of intensive media training with KNP Communications in association with the Franklin Forum, who have run a highly successful US version of this project.


Round two is going to be held at the end of May and we are busily making plans for that, as well as continuing to run our monthly follow-on training sessions in which our sokespeople have heard from top producers, practiced their interview technique in front of a current affairs presenter and started working on messaging guides.


It’s a really exciting project that has the potential to radically alter the framework for debate.


But we need YOU to get involved. Please spread the word amongst your networks and send us your ideas.  Do you know journalists who might be interested in booking members of the network? Or press teams who regularly have to turn down media requests? If so, please get in touch – I’d love to hear from you!


[email protected]