A crash course in discourse.

The media is information. So what happens if that information is wrong or even worse manipulated to make a more convenient truth. The word truth is very powerful which brings me on to the focus of this week’s blog. Discourse. Simply put discourse is the arranging of information so that a certain set of ideas and ideals appear as truth, by constructing beliefs that many people hold in common. Hall (1995) informed us that the most common form of this cancerous form of media is against groups which the powerful have deemed disruptive. This process is called othering and is often coupled with scapegoating. An example of this is the media representation of the New Age Traveller movement. In the late 70s and early 80s inflation rose over 20% in the UK meaning thousands of people became homeless, masses took to the roads in mobile homes.


So how does one conduct a discourse? The first key thing in a discourse is the use of language, words can be a powerful tool with the ability to make people believe what ever read in a paper. The New Age Traveller movement saw much being slandered by papers as a hippy convoy of unclean drug addicts. One event where you can clearly see the effects of discourse is the Battle of the Beanfield. On the first of June 1985 police clashed with a commune of travellers in the area surrounding Stone Henge. The of language around this event is questionable firstly calling it a battle is ridiculous. There is a lot media based confusion about this day so allow me to enlighten you with some real footage.

ITN TV News Report & Unedited ITN footage

As you can see these people where defence less as their home where destroyed and their family and friends beaten by police. The fact that this footage was not released until 1991 is an example of discourse created by misinformation. These people were made to look like common criminals because as common criminals the public wouldn’t care about their plight. If you watch the start of this video you can hear the news reporter at the time using phraises like “in defiance of the law” and “hippies”.

New Age Travellers Vs The Media (Stonehenge 1985)

These people where villainised and harassed because they were a threat to the status quo. They’d decided to leave their homes and live their lives on the road, meeting people, raising family’s; just like you and I only on the move. This however created a problem in that suddenly thousands of people where no longer paying taxes or going to work for large companies. It was an example of how people can live outside the system designed to make the rich wealthier and have a good life as well. When you see othering question it. Is the othering hiding something? If so what? learn the whole truth and decide, don’t let you news paper tell you who to hate.


Hall, S (1995) THE WEST AND THE REST: DISCOURSE AND POWER: Polity Press in association with the Open University.

ITN TV News Report & Unedited ITN footage (1990)
Roddy Melville (youtube) Accessed: https://youtu.be/6LHizyCtakw

Rodgers, S. (2013) How Britain changed under Margaret Thatcher. In 15 charts: The Guardian.


New Age Travellers Vs The Media (Stonehenge 1985)
DaisyPumpkin23 (you tube) accessed: https://youtu.be/yKVn1C3qc9w



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