Introduction to Workers’ World

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WWMP is a non-profit organisation that specialises in developing democratic mass media and organisational platforms nationally and in several local communities that focus on socio-economic and political issues that affect them. Its activities include mass media productions, education and training and organising support for trade unions and working-class communities.

Background

WWMP was started in 1997, after a group of labour service organisations (LSOs) and NGOs recognised the need for alternative community mass media that addressed the needs of poor and working class people. At the time community radio stations flourished and were present in over 100 poor black communities. Most CR stations had, and still do have challenges of their role and content due to political and resource limitations. Originally, we positioned ourselves as a non-profit labour media production house working in a democratic partnership with the trade union movement. Since then (2010) we have transformed ourselves towards having a community orientation with a bias towards the poorest and most marginalised communities and groups, mainly unemployed/ underemployed women in supporting them in developing their democratic organisations and representing their own interests in 16 communities and with four vulnerable groups of workers (community healthcare workers -CHW’s, waste-pickers/recyclers, farmworkers and ex-mineworkers and their widows. All these groups now take up their issues with authorities but still rely still on WWMP for support.

We do this through grassroots mass media development, education and training and organising support. Our mass media platforms include weekly shows 30 community radio and TV channels nationally, online print media and video documentary inserts via social media. Our successes include a two decades long broadcast partnership with up to 40 CR stations and SAFM (lapsed), the establishment of Cape Town TV (CTV) with a weekly 1-hour long live show, broadcast on DSTV with high audience numbers, Elitsha community newspaper, a campaign against violence against women in the mining industry that resulted in the conviction of the perpetrator responsible for the brutal rape and murder of Binky Mosiane after the case had gone cold for 18 months, a feature length documentary film, “Freedom Isn’t Free” that won international plaudits and awards and has been regularly broadcast on ENCA since 2019.

Cross-cutting themes for all our media, movement building and education/ training work

  • Civic life and democratic participation
  • Gender and women’s oppression
  • Livelihoods, jobs and vulnerable/precarious work/workers
  • Occupational and community health and safety
  • The environmental crisis
  • Discrimination – racism, xenophobia and homophobia.

Commitment to the labour movement

We are not just any media organisation – we are rooted in, and committed to the labour movement. We are non-partisan and democratic: we are governed by a Board that includes representatives from all three of South Africa’s union federations, as well as three labour service organisations. We defend workers’ interests, not those of any political party or faction.

We tell workers’ stories, but we believe in accountability, balance and integrity. Workers need accurate news that provides them with the information they need to participate in society – not propaganda. We abide by journalistic ethics. We believe that for society to function – especially a society with the structural damage of South Africa – people need accurate information. We aim to provide that information in an accessible and relevant format.

We believe in:

  • Unity of workers and working class people.
  • Organisational and political independence.
  • Democracy – both in society and within organisations.

The state of media and journalism

We are concerned with the state of journalism, both in South Africa and internationally. We have seen increased media monopolies, the corrosion of good investigative reporting and the downgrading of industrial and labour reporting.

In South Africa, we have seen pro-government media bias from the state broadcaster, as well as the establishment of new print media that pushes the government line. At the same time, press freedom is being eroded, with the proposed Protection of State Information Bill – the “Secrecy Bill”. This legislation would allow the state to prosecute journalists who publish information it would prefer to see covered up for reasons of “national security”. Given the fragile state of South African democracy, especially after the Marikana massacre, this is a worrying development indeed.

Similar increased hostility towards media and journalists are to be found in various parts of the world and reflects the fear of those in power towards the free-flow of information relating to injustice and inequality. At the time of writing this report, four Al Jazeera reporters were still being detained by the military junta in Egypt there and accused of supporting a terrorist organisation, presumably the toppled from power, Muslim Brotherhood party.

In addition to providing an alternative media source for working class people, we work to broaden access to politics and media. We provide training and support in media production, so that trade unionists and working class organisations can make their own media. Our Mass Education Campaign empowers people to question the narratives offered to them by the mainstream media.

Our education and media work is also aimed at building and strengthening much needed grassroots organisation and leadership – at workplaces and within local communities and to build political and organisational bridges between these two terrains of working class life and struggles.

To reach as wide an audience as possible, we work in partnership with community radio stations with accountable structures, trade unions and labour service organisations.

Our Aims

  • To provide a wide range of media accessible and relevant to working class people in South Africa and internationally.
  • To train trade unionists and community members in the use of the media.
  • To improve the use of media and information for the building of working class organisation.

 

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