Disabled and sick people's experience, views and expertise is frequently filtered out of skewed debates and discussions about welfare and benefits. Here researcher, blogger and campaigner Sue Marsh explains what it's like to negotiate the media circus as a person living with a deeply debilitating condition, how the mainstream media fails those most impacted by government-driven cuts and stigma, and why "we must make our own media".
As a teetotal Christian, I would not want to sell alcohol. If I worked at Marks & Spencer, and had politely asked a customer to pay another member of staff for her champagne, I doubt that it would have led to a national media story. Marks & Spencer’s policy on this issue has hit the headlines because of a staff member who made such a request – and who is a Muslim. This conveniently suits the agenda of the right-wing media, obsessed as they are with portraying Muslims as weird.
At the end of April 2013, the Rev Rachel Mann, author of Dazzling Darkness: Gender, sexuality, illness and God, gave the 5th Annual St Anselm Lecture, on the topic of social media and faith, at St Anselm Hall, University of Manchester.
Yesterday evening, an ever expanding group of sick and disabled people, carers and families launched an e-petition demanding an independent, cumulative review of the impact of changes to the welfare and benefits system.
Digital democracy and the huge expansion of social media is transforming political action and diplomacy, says Dr Harry Hagopian, who has been expanding his own involvement in that arena, not least due to his regular podcasts on developments in the Middle East and North Africa. He looks especially at social media's impact in that region.