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How Extinction Rebellion is using print

As Extinction Rebellion enters day four of its demonstrations in more than 60 cities across the world, Print Monthly takes a look at how the organisation is using print to aid the cause.

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Extinction Rebellion enters day three of its ‘International Rebellion’. Photo: Ashutosh Joshi

It’s likely that you’ll have heard of Extinction Rebellion – the global movement that is using non-violent civil disobedience to get governments to act quicker on the changing climate, more frequently referred to as the climate crisis due to its urgency.

The group says, along with many experts, if the world does not change course by 2020 it could be too late to avoid ecological breakdown.

Print is a powerful medium and one we know is effective in marketing and communications, and for Extinction Rebellion it’s no different. The organisation has been printing thousands of guides and materials to share with members of the public to effectively communicate its stance and demands from government.

A significant part of the movement revolves around Extinction Rebellion’s logo and creating signs for the protests that the organisation has been taking part in since its inception in 2018. Those wanting to join the cause can access templates from Extinction Rebellion’s website for block printing and painting banners and clothing.

Printing also takes place on-site at demonstrations, where people are encouraged to have symbols printed onto second-hand clothing in support. The symbol itself is a circled hourglass, also known as the extinction symbol, which represents that time is running out for many species on Earth.

Printmaking has been a key part of the demonstrations. Photo: Alistair Hall

As well as printed collateral, the group has also launched its own newspaper. The Hourglass is printed on recycled paper and aims to reach people who are not necessarily on social media and who still read and trust traditional press.

Covering articles around the climate and featuring comment from figures like senior climate scientist Dr Wolfgang Knorr, the newspaper also features an interview with Ray Mears, a satire segment by Jonathan Pie, a Youth Voice segment and other reviews.

The publication is free and is distributed by members of Extinction Rebellion from its regional groups across the UK.

Zion Lights, lead editor of The Hourglass, comments: “The Hourglass newspaper is not a special edition of ‘climate reporting’, but a paper that aims to tell the truth. If we look at the main discussions taking place amongst politicians and on the news, the climate and ecological emergency are on the backseat – when they’re passengers at all.

"This means that it’s difficult to keep the crisis on the agenda, or to communicate the pressing threat of it, and therefore the need to act, to the wider public.

A newspaper is a way to take things back to black and white, it’s worked for centuries, before technology became so advanced

“In World War Two, ‘war reporting’ became the norm, but journalists were initially not urged to do this. The Murrow Boys defied their bosses to tell the truth of the war to the American public, which changed the outcome of what happened.

"As president of the Schumann Media Centre Bill Moyers says: ‘Reporting the truth is always the basis for any moral authority we can claim as journalists.’ Reporting the truth about climate disruption, and its solutions, could be contagious.

“We are sorry to have to use war terminology here, but the language appropriate to the current attack on nature and mass extinction doesn’t seem to exist yet. We live in sad times when a 16-year-old girl has to cry before world leaders to get them to sit up and take notice of the scale of the emergency we are in.”

Chris Ledward worked on designing the paper. He comments: “I came on board for the chance to help convey a visual message, to form an emotional plea to open our eyes. Image and design is a strong visual message that can be seen and heard, combine that with heartfelt words and you have a way to break through.

“A newspaper is a way to take things back to black and white, it’s worked for centuries, before technology became so advanced. It’s a way to shout when everything else has become noise. If we all shout loud enough, hopefully someone will listen, and if someone will listen, then hopefully we will take action.”

Extinction Rebellion has launched its own newspaper, The Hourglass

Aside of aiming to ‘tell the truth’ about the climate crisis, Extinction Rebellion is calling on journalists working across the UK to consider how the national press covers climate change.

Ronan McNern, media and messaging coordinator for Extinction Rebellion, adds: “I hope that this helps to inspire those news and features editors out there to think big, and to see that they as journalists have a role to play in this emergency. Your talent of telling a story has never been so important.

“Extinction Rebellion supports you in every effort you can make as part of the shift in consciousness we need to face into this, to inform people about what is happening, to talk about the difficult things and also to shine a light on what we can do with a little bit of courage. In these dark times, I look forward to seeing what comes next for journalism in the UK.”

Extinction Rebellion began its two-week ‘International Rebellion’ on October 7th whereby the group occupies centres of power until governments meet its demands to act quicker on climate change. 

If you have a news story, email summer@linkpublishing.co.uk or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to join the conversation. 

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