2007 - 2021

Towards a Fifth Estate


Margie Orford, speaking at Bella’s A Public Press, Wed 20 Aug Edinburgh

Everywhere we look, our media is failing us. Whether it’s the referendum campaign, the reporting from Gaza, or the representation of women, it’s a corrosive, abusive force. The way we share information, the stories we tell each other, has been corrupted, bought-up and commodified.

Connecting these stories between and beyond single campaigns, sharing this experience of a media that twists reality is an important part of broadening and sharpening the analysis of the movement in Scotland.

This event A Public Press: Reclaiming the Media – is about giving us a bigger picture and some much-needed perspective to the distortions we experience. Connecting struggles and stories strengthens our understanding of the world, that’s why we’re delighted to be collaborating with Scottish PEN on this event looking at problems and – more importantly, solutions and new directions in a new media, what some have called a Fifth Estate (1)

We’re delighted to bring, not just Caroline Criado-Perez, to Edinburgh but also the writer Margie Orford.

In 1985, the writer Orford was thrown in jail by South Africa’s apartheid police. She has written of the experience:

A prison day is made up of 23 long hours and one very short one – the exercise hour. There are splashes of sunlight on the concrete, and the sky, squared off as it is by the courtyard walls, is blue. To get outside we go past the single cells where a white woman has been held in solitary for months. We talk to her as we file past. The wardens tell us not to; they say, security police orders. So we sing. They tell us not to sing either. We say, you cannot stop us. The next time we go out, workmen are welding a sheet of metal over the woman’s window, closing the darkness around her like a fist. I hear her voice. She is singing a Xhosa song, her voice breaking on the high notes. How long, I wonder, does a woman sing in the dark.

Margie is an award-winning journalist, photographer, film director, children’s author and Fulbright scholar. She was elected President of PEN South Africa earlier this summer.

We have only a few tickets left for the discussion between Margie Orford and Caroline Criado-Perez. Book your tickets here: Power and Print. Misrepresenting Women in the Media , Onslaught and Fightback – only £5


(1) Dutton, W. H. (2009), ‘The Fifth Estate Emerging through the Network of Networks’, Prometheus, Vol. 27, No. 1, March: pp. 1-15.

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  1. tartanfever says:

    I saw Mike’s appearance on Referendum TV and I thought his comments on the media were interesting. For those that didn’t catch it, it’s available to view here:


    Mike appears later in the show, scroll through to 40mins.

  2. Dan Huil says:

    Certainly the media’s coverage of our referendum has been a disgrace. Journalists, with a few honourable exceptions, have shown moral cowardice in meekly following their masters’ unionist orders. Thank God for the internet.

  3. Iain Hill says:

    Who is financially controlling this media corruption? Who wants to exploit the sham divisions being created?

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