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TUC Congress ’19 Social media not enough to put forward the left's perspective, the Star's fringe meeting hears

SOCIAL media will not be sufficient to communicate left-wing messages in Britain’s hostile news environment, a packed Morning Star fringe meeting at TUC Congress heard today.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke praised the paper’s detailed coverage of industrial disputes and campaigns, highlighting the Star’s coverage of the 700-day oil workers strike against Exxon Mobil and UGL/Cimic in Australia.

Morning Star editor Ben Chacko said: “Some say the development of social media has broken the power of the traditional press.

“At the 2017 election Labour certainly showed that wall-to-wall press hostility can be overcome.

“But the change brought about by social media is often exaggerated.

“Most stories on social media come from the same handful of titles that dominate the printed press, and whose agendas tend to form the narrative of the big broadcasters.”

Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “We can never ever expect that those people [in control of major newspaper groups] can support us.

“So our task in the movement is to build our own media.”

Economist and writer Grace Blakeley noted that mainstream broadcast outlets allow left-wing commentators to advocate for some progressive positions, but are especially keen to shut out anti-imperialist voices on foreign policy issues.

“I’ve become very familiar with what one is allowed to say in the confines of the mainstream media and what one is not allowed to say,” she said.

“The structural conditions we live in mean that the media will always speak for the elite.”

National Education Union president Amanda Martin said: “The toffs all network — we need to network.

“We’ve got a much better networking system than they have, with real people knocking on doors.”

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