Movement Building & Media Making Training

This training outline was created by Una Osato, Ora Wise, & Shreya Shah

YES, media is really important. BUT sometimes it actually isn’t the most important thing. It is a means to an end, not the end in and of itself.  It’s a process and tool through which to build and reflect our movement. The bottom line of the media work we do is that if our messaging is sincere and we internalize it, we will not only succeed in making better media, but we will succeed in movement building…which IS important.  Although there has been concern about people who are unclear or unaccountable to the broader movement while speaking in the media, we recognized that many people at Occupy Wall Street know their message in some ways, and what we really needed to think about is the process of representation in a larger and deeper way, more than “good interview” or “bad interview”.

This curriculum grew from the soil of numerous conversations and repeated experiences by people of color and those who understood the power dynamics at OWS and wanted to support a shifting of power and representation. We connected with various OWS groups, specifically the PR, Media, and POC working groups. We emphasized getting feedback on what would be most useful from people who were highly involved in OWS, while simultaneously reaching out to people we knew from other organizing spaces who were interested but not as involved in OWS for various reasons. 

Movement Building & Media Making Training Outline

This is a 2.5 -3 hr workshop that can be adapted for 8-50 people.

Set up & Prep:

– Supplies: Paper, Pencils, (People’s Low Tech Devices or Cameras for Recording Interviews), Sign up sheet for group email/ to continue communication.

– Have contact info of point people, allies, and relevant and up-to- date meeting times easily accessible

– Designate note taker and volunteers to help with documentation of interviews ahead of time and assign/Confirm roles at start of workshop: Notetaker, Documentation, Timekeeper.


– To create space for and share a critical analysis of our experiences & perspectives about OWS and OWS-related media representation, with an emphasis on strategy and action.

– Gain a better group understanding of potential common media projects and strategies that we collectively want to prioritize and move towards.

– To build up supportive networks.

Introduction (15 mins) Frame the purpose of and build a container for this workshop.

– Welcome:  Thanks for coming despite busy schedules, other important pieces of our lives, thanks for your time and energy.

– Why We’re Here:

o There is much momentum, excitement, and energy to move forward and be involved with OWS.  Within this space alone, we carry a TON of skills, ideas, visions, and contributions to OWS. Each of us belongs here; we are here for a reason.  Each of us has something important to contribute, even if you aren’t aware of specifically what that might be in this moment.

o This training originated from conversations with those involved on the ground at OWS. The overall strategy that came from these conversations is that its helpful to use a multi-pronged approach for media, including:

+ 1. Diversity & Representation: We need to build a more diverse, broader group of folks with skills & experiences who feel empowered and confident in representing this (un)Occupy movement.  It’s also necessary to acknowledge all the movement work that has come before and built the stepping stones to make OWS possible. This ranges from actions such as the occupation of the island of Alcatraz by the Indians of All Tribes to community organizations who have been doing racial and economic justice work for years, and so on. By including a deeper and wider circle of voices such as these in the representation of OWS, we can strengthen the movement.

+ 2. Ideas need action: OWS Media group has tons of ideas (and money!) and are in need of more folks who have editing/production skills, and people who are ready to start and commit to the process.

+ 3. Strategy-Strengthening & Streamlining: The channeling and controlling of OWS-related messages needs to be improved– engaging with both mainstream and our own media needs to be approached as parts of a unified strategy. We need to coordinate better between the Media and PR working groups and build capacity so to be proactive in our media-making, using media and messaging that we produce to shape the coverage.

Who are we? Briefly Introduce team and your OWS work.

Participant Introductions: Your Name, 1 medium you use.

This is a time for each of us to own or practice owning a skill or an experience, as part of making media is to feel our voice/skill is important enough to speak up. Let’s push the definition of media too: for some it’s voice (being in media by doing PR), street theater, interactive art or film projects, documentary, creating social media, using twitter, making posters or signs.

Allow a volunteer to start and go in a circle from there.

Review Agenda

o First, we’ll analyze OWS Media: This is a space to collectively reflect on (un)Occupy media and messaging thus far as well as our individual/specific roles within this movement.

o Contextualize & Practice: Next, we’ll reflect on our stories and main messages we want to convey first in pairs, and then in large group.

o Strategizing/action steps: Lastly, we’ll leave with concrete ways that we can all plug in or move forward to the work/groups already being done here.

Frame: LESS IS MORE: This training space is an opportunity to challenge ourselves in practicing both being succinct and keeping our message clear & precise throughout the training.

Popcorn (10 mins) One facilitator supports by taking visiible notes for group.

Let’s do a group reflection on OWS-related media in all its various forms as we’ve discussed, including community made and mainstream outlets such as NYT, WSJ, NPR, etc.

-(3m) Talk in a Pair with someone you haven’t met yet about:

* What has been working at Occupy?

* What could be improved or changed?

-Harvest a written list by the whole group on large paper, with answers to each question in its own column.

Spectrum Activity (10mins)

Purpose: Reflect on how privilege, representation, and systemic oppressions and ‘-isms’ may be replicated within OWS media & media-making.

Line up according to the following statements. When you’ve decided where you want to stand, silently observe where others are on the spectrum line.

* How empowered do you feel to make your own (un)Occupy-related media? ‘Not Very’ line up on left side, ‘Very Empowered’ on other side). Ask for 2-3 volunteers to (succinctly) share why they stood where they did on the spectrum.

* Think about your various identities. How represented do you feel by Occupy-related Media? Again, ‘Not Very’ stand on left side as before; ask for 2-3 volunteers to (succinctly) share.

* Group Reflection:

– How did that feel to you?

-Were there any surprises at how the spectrum looked/what people said? (allow 1 or 2 participants to share)

– Does anyone want to share any observations, whether specific to one spectrum line-up (about empowerment or representation) or overall themes you noticed?

– Lastly, in light of experiences and thoughts shared, how do we want media representation and media-making to grow? (encourage action-based input)

Frame: Building Our Own Narratives (10mins)

Why is it important to be able to articulate our own stories? It is helpful when we are each aware of our own place and context within the movement, and use our positioning to talk to or create media.

– Various media outlets and angles: No matter what kind of media we’re engaging in (WBAI, friends video, Fox, or NYT), we want to succinctly and effectively communicate our personal stories as part of larger movement narrative- so these narrative and communication skills are relevant to all components of media strategy…Its ‘Damage control’ for both self and the movement when we edit ourselves rather than leave it up to media to do so.

– (Creative vs. Reactive both can be useful. It is important to be aware of your options and choices. Given that ‘Not all media is good media’, know when you want to say yes or no to participation in the process, and for what reasons (distrust of media outlet or person, etc)

-(Creative Media is creating media based on your own ideas, projects, and timelines. Reactive Media is responding to others requests for projects or interviews).

– Building your narrative is useful for those who are media-makers & documenters too, as you can strengthen how you support interviewees or your subjects.

– You can use the reflections we’ve articulated thus far- about what we want to change and our visions of ideal representations of this movement- and then we’ll start practicing these skills.


One facilitator helps pass out writing tools/paper where needed, other facilitator reads Questions/Prompts to group.

– So we’ll take about 5 min to write down key parts of why OWS is important to you…and why do you support this movement?

– Read prompts aloud:

  • What identities do I hold?
  • Which identities might be most powerful (whether because it speaks to the diversity we are aiming for at Occupy or because it would connect and draw in others to participate).
  • Why am I here at OWS? Who is the news outlet I’m talking to (how much might they skew my story?)
  • What’s my most important message that I have to get out there in the press?

Repeat & Summarize these questions so participants can fully absorb and reflect on them: Powerful Identities, Why you’re here, What’s the angle and clip this media outlet will take, What is my 1 important message?

-One way to break it down is to start big and get more specific: articulate your Vision or Agenda, and 2-3 Messages that support your Vision, and then 1-2 specific, concrete Talking Points for each message.

After giving participants 5 minutes to individually reflect on and write out these questions, they’ll have 2 chances to practice their messaging.

Practice #1 within a Pair Share: Each person will get 1 minute, timed by your partner. Give feedback, including something to be more aware of but emphasize the things done well (Confidence greatly impacts performance).

Breathing & Grounding

Thank you magnificent people for all of your work and dedication. You are fighting the good fight. Speaking publicly is something that terrifies most people, even those courageous enough to stand up to oppression, and it can be nerve-wrecking each time you speak, for various reasons.

So, let’s work on being centered, and grounded, in our breath. Our breath is the one thing that constantly is moving in and out of us, never the same, and essential for us and life:

Guide a breathing exercise: Breathe in for 5 counts (pause for 5)… hold it for 3 counts (pause), and release for 5 counts (pause). (Do 2-3 rounds of this).

Please observe how grounding might’ve impacted you in this next practice round.

Practice #2:

*Document in Pairs: One person gives an interview, the other records. And swap. Importantly, this is a practice of staying in role, so if you feel you’ve messed up, practice how you’d regain your ground when you’re in the spotlight. We’re each doing a 1 minute recording. While you’ll likely be interviewed for longer, its important to keep your points together because most media will use only a 30 second clip, if not less.

* Partners should swap emails to share recorded interviews so they can reflect upon their performance later. (Encourage sharing useful practice interviews with larger group through email as well).

* Large Group Debrief of Pair Share (call on 4 participants max): Have participants complete both sentences to evaluate and affirm themselves. Push back on hesitance to give positive feedback, as confidence and conviction in our own voices is essential to push forward our messages.

-I’d like to improve___.

-What worked really well is____.

*Review Common Mistakes for Participants to be aware of especially body/verbal language– Sounding Confident is important for audience to trust you & your message:

– Too much rhetoric or too many points/approaches (break things down in human, digestable language. You cannot say everything you want to or need to- stick to 1 key message).

– ticks (be aware of ‘filler language’ such as right, um, etc.

-Tone/pitch of voice goes up at end, sounding questioning.

-Speaking too quickly (It’s ok to start your message over)

-Looking down/all around (Make Eye Contact)

Breaking Down Buzzwords as a Group (15 mins)

To help level the playing field & validate those who might not yet be able to articulate these descriptions. It allows your audience to understand your message when you drop/explain language they might not vibe with.

* Capitalism: system based on taking land/$/resources for a small number of people is unjust.

* Imperialism: governments taking over people’s lands around the world

* Oppression/ ‘The system’, etc. Ask for group input– what other words can we do?? (1-2 more examples)

* The message of ‘We Are the 99%’ is such an attempt to make language/concepts accessible.

Role Play Demo (10 min)

Large Group: identify scenarios with media: “Is there a challenge you’ve had with OWS media that you want to be see be played out right now?” Pick a volunteer to role play an interview in a scenario with aggressive/neutral media. Again, evaluate interviews, ending on affirmation.

(Scenario Examples may be along the lines: There are no demands/message/vision (What are you for?!), it’s disorganized, not representative, it’s messy and dirty.)


Hand out sheets of any strategy & vision guidelines that may have been previously discussed (if any) so that all participants are on the same page, as well as to value the time commitment by those involved in previous conversations.  Verbally summarize any main points from previous conversations.

(15 min) Small group work (groups of 5 or less).

Discuss strategy & ideas of how to plug into, support, expand, and/or shift the pre-existing (un)Occupy structure within PR, Media, etc. Each group please take notes so to share back 4-5 main points from each small group conversation to the whole group.

(20 min) Large Group Report Back & Questions

Give 2-3 minutes to each small group to share their main points.

Take these report backs and move into attempting to answer:

-How to support moving towards Action/Next Steps?

-How to plug in/build an ongoing supportive network?

-Who are Point People to link in with?

-What are collaborations that might sprout here, now?

For any next steps identified, its always important to have a point person/bottom-liner (who is in charge of keeping the process moving) and a realistic deadline to minimized frustrating experiences.

Some examples of ideas:

-more of such trainings as this one

-creating a support contingent and ‘ambassadors’ from this group that participate in main Occupy groups (such as PR, Media, Outreach) to help shape them.

-having media-making sessions (with breakout groups/stations and enough time/space to work on media together & share out these pieces at OWS).

-Put your money where mouth is: getting $ from PR/Media to start OWS projects.

Wrap Up:

-In the spirit of sharing ownership of the group, ask a volunteer to type up notes within the next few days for it to be emailed out or turned into a shared document that is accessible by all.

-Set up next meeting time, etc.

-Thank you for all who came out!


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