Strategic Plan part two – inform

2. Inform
“News is something that someone somewhere wants to suppress. Everything else is advertising.”
Lord Northcliffe

MCFly is in the news business. We are not particularly interested in running puff-pieces about organisations that should be asked tough questions. And it is not just councils, the public sector outfits and businesses that should be scrutinised. Social enterprises and community interest companies and the like often expect a free ride from the media because they like to think of themselves as Good People doing Good Things.. They are not going to get a free ride from MCFly.

2.1 Who are we trying to inform and how will we do it.

How (in addition to youtubes/website/paper MCFly)
The activist/campaigner/ doing “community”
By getting our bulletins and monthly publication onto the email lists/facebook profiles of relevant publications, with links on relevant websites.
via Manchester Councillor Climate Change Communique Quarterly
via engagement before during and after Overview and Scrutiny Committees, Council and Exec meetings, from both MCFly and MCFly’s readership
Joe and Jane Public
We will try to write MCFly in straightforward, non-jargon language, with a minimum of “in-jokes.”
Encourage readers to forward/print off copies and give them to vaguely interested friends/neighbours/work colleagues etc
Write letters to the Manchester Evening News, South Manchester Reporter and other relevant publications.
Make contact with “community leaders,” be they chairs of TARAs priests, rabbis, imams, sports coaches, etc
Seek opportunities to be interviewed on community, commercial and public radio stations.
Answer non-troll* questions from Joes and Janes in straightforward language, not shying away from uncertainties, costs etc (that is, treat people

*A word about trolls
We are not going to bother engaging with climate denialists. They want to waste our time and energy. We simply aren’t going to let them do so. But we will run pieces on the psychology, neuroscience and sociology of denial, because those things matter.

2.2 What are we informing about
Actions being taken in Greater Manchester by anyone (business, council, public sector, individuals) to reduce Greater Manchester’s emissions of greenhouse gases in line with published plans and a “2 degree Celsius” global target
Actions being taken by anyone to prepare Greater Manchester for the inevitable changes that climate change will bring, from both direct (local) and indirect (global) changes to the earth’s climate and ecosystems.
Lessons being learned as we in Manchester do mitigation and resilience work ; are we – as government, businesses and citizens – stealing the right ideas from elsewhere in the UK and the world?
The intellectual tools that exist to help explain where we are at as a species and how we might get to a better place with social and environmental justice (“practical theory,” book reviews, article summaries, interviews and the like)
The events are coming up that will allow new people to get involved in what needs to be a growing movement for climate and social justice. (The calendar)

We will ask questions of other public and private sector bodies around their endorsement (or not) of the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan, production of their own Implementation Plans, and progress with their implementation of those plans.

We will over action taken by community groups to improve the quality of life and reduce the carbon footprint, of Mancunians, and act in solidarity with people in other countries, and in solidarity with other species on this planet, the only habitable one in the Universe.

2.2.1 Within the rather severe constraints of our staffing levels, we will cover…
the relevant meetings (especially overview and scrutiny committees, “planning and highways,” and Executive) of Manchester City Council
meetings of the Environment Commission (when they are not canceled because of high numbers of apologies)
meetings, where relevant, of the GMCA Executive
meetings, where relevant, of the GM Scrutiny Pool
meetings, where relevant and accessible, of other public sector bodies (we’re open to suggestions)

2.2.2 Within the rather severe constraints of our staffing levels, we will try
to cover what academics based in Manchester are publishing on climate change science, policy and the like, especially if their work concerns Manchester.
What academics elsewhere are writing about Manchester
Useful information for activists and policy-makers and Joe and Jane Public that is being produced by academics and other thinkers wherever they may be.
We are aware that academics tend to write in academese. Where time and intellectual firepower allow, we will offer a translation service into English.
Produce a monthly listing of relevant journal articles and books.

2.2.3 Greater Manchester
Where possible, Manchester Climate Monthly will cover news in the other 9 local authority areas that make up Greater Manchester. We will do this by asking local authorities to add us to their email lists and then reprinting bits of their press releases. This is of course entirely unsatisfactory, so we will systematically encourage and support our readers who live in these local authority areas to become reporters for MCFly.

2.2.4 Beyond Greater Manchester
We will cover national level policy developments where there is a clear impact on Manchester – for example, the “Green Deal.”
The circus that is the Green Investment Bank (decision due February 2012) we will cover primarily for the practice, the source-building and the lulz. Once it is established, it drops down the agenda, unless it is based in Manchester, in which case the lulz continue.
We will only cover international developments if we feel like it. People who want that stuff can (usually) easily get it from the mainstream media. If they want radical analysis, they can check out The Cornerhouse, IIED etc. Rio 20+ will be worth some laughs.

2.3 How will we inform
Via the monthly magazine
Via the regularly updated website
Via a twitter feed @mcr_climate
Via a monthly brief bulletin (two paragraphs) about the city council/agma (in)action, that environmental and social justice groups can – if they choose – include in their email bulletins etc
Via brief talks at other events that we attend,/are invited to attend
Via weekly bulletins, published every Monday morning except the first Monday of the month.
Via youtube videos that cover the governance structures and current state of climate plans in (Greater) Manchester. We hope to produce a monthly youtube that covers the contents of the latest issue.
Via a two page “Manchester Councillors’ Climate Change Communique Quarterly” that is sent to all 96 Manchester City Council councillors and selected officers, and (we hope) followed up by visits to surgeries from readers who live in wards within Manchester City Council.
Via short talks/workshops/facilitations that we are invited to give by other groups (“Have mouth, will travel.”). We undertake not to “death by powerpoint” or “ego-fodder” anyone. (see the glossary)

2.4 When we are informing
Monthly – the clue is in the name – for the paper magazine
Quarterly – the clue is in the name – for the two page briefing to councillors
Throughout every week of the year on the website.
Immediately via our twitterfeed
Whenever we are asked to do presentations/facilitate workshops

(Either this is a climate emergency, in which case we have to work really hard and smart, or else it isn’t. We are operating under the assumption that it IS an emergency.)

2.4.1 Our biases and transparency
We will, under the name of the writer, announce connections – financial, personal or “membership” – that our reporter and MCFly has with the individuals/organisations being discussed. At present, one of the editors (Marc Hudson) is a member of Friends of the Earth.

For our policy re: corrections and updates and “right of reply”, see

2.5 Actions

We will publish an 8 or 12 A4 page magazine on the first Monday of every month between January 2012 and December 2013. It will be attractively laid out, written in plain English, and contain a mix of news and features that informs, inspires and connects people.
Stories that appear in the magazine will also be available on the website

We will publish a minimum of two “news” stories on Manchester Climate Monthly per week, in addition to “puff pieces”

Twitter feed
We will maintain a twitter feed, not because we believe twitter is a particularly useful movement building tool (but we could be wrong), but because it’s all good experience for us. We hope to tweet every day or so, over and above the automated tweets that happen when we post to the wordpress site, but make no promises. But the editors are both busy people, and the signal-to-noise ratio on twitter is not good. So we will be pushing more than we are scanning…

We will publish, once a month, an audit of how we have performed – around gender, race, class, geography, readability and other metrics that we like.

Our relationship with the Council and the Freedom of Information Act
MCFly has sought information from Manchester City Council on many occasions. We have been known to resort to using the Freedom of Information Act when we suspected our questions would fall on deaf ears. FOIA requests have resource implications for the Council. Executive Member for the Environment Nigel Murphy has offered to supply information without having to go through the rigmarole of FOIA. We are currently taking them up on this offer, without in any way renouncing our right to use FOIA. We don’t think we are compromising our independence by doing this, but readers might think so, and they certainly have the right to know where things currently stand.
We may well do some “Mystery Shopper”-style work, where a MCFly reader writes in to the Council with a question, and we see whether they get a reply and how long it takes to get that information… Then again, we might not. Jedi mind games!!


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