Without Words: 8 Examples of Media Protests

Typographic paint mixed with blood, text upside down, blanks instead of images and other ways the media expresses their protest, sorrow or solidarity.

Big news usually gets a lot of feedback in texts, photographs, TV and radio coverage. In order to redirect the audience’s attention back to themselves the media sometimes resorts to non-standard methods. Bird In Flight has selected eight of the most original methods media entities have used.

100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide
Audio Kultur magazine, Lebanon

The project of a Lebanese magazine, Audio Kultur, titled “Still Here, Still Bleeding” is dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. It was created to express gratitude for the Armenian refugees’ and their descendants’ contribution to the development and welfare of Lebanon. A series of posters and a limited number of copies of the April issue of the magazine, printed with real human blood, were created to commemorate the tragedy. The editorial office asked five Lebanese Armenians to donate their blood and mixed it with typographic paint to produce the magazine cover with “Still Here, Still Bleeding” across it.

Stricter Rules for British Citizenship Application
Gandul online newspaper, Romania

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_12.jpg”, “text”: “A poster reading: Half of our women look like Kate. The other half, like her sister. (left) and We have the most beautiful road in the world according to your top motoring show. (right)”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_13.jpg”, “text”: “A poster reading: Our draft beer is less expensive than your bottled water. (left) and We serve more food groups that pie, sausage, fish & chips. (right)”}

Introduction of stricter rules for British citizenship application in 2013 frustrated immigrants from the Eastern Europe. As a response to the United Kingdom initiative Gandul launched a campaign meant to attract migrants to Romania. The publication issued a series of posters mocking typical British stereotypes.

Defending the Freedom of Press
“Reporters Without Borders,” Italy

The Italian branch of “Reporters Without Borders” has come up with the original idea of showing their contempt for dishonest politicians and direct public attention to the problem of freedom of speech. An artist has created portraits of George Bush Jr., Barak Obama, Vladimir Putin and other political leaders together with some of their most preposterous statements. It wouldn’t be anything that special if it were not for the fact that the technique used by the artist is shit painting, in the real sense of the word.

Arrest of Photographer Denis Sinyakov
Russian media

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_06.jpg”, “text”: “”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_07.jpg”, “text”: “The New Times.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_08.jpg”, “text”: “Dozhd TV channel”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_09.jpg”, “text”: “Ekho Moskvy radio”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_10.jpg”, “text”: “Snob magazine.”}

In September 2013 RIA News agency staff photographer was arrested as he was attempting, together a few Greenpeace activists, to get to the Prerazlomnaya oil platform.

To show their solidarity with Sinyakov, Russian online media replaced images on their websites with blanks. The solidarity action was joined by “,” “Svobodnaya Pressa,” “Russkaya Planeta,” “Novaya Gazeta,” “Ekho Moskvy” radio station, and “Dozhd” TV channel.

Terrorist Attack of Charlie Hebdo
World media

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_01.jpg”, “text”: “The Independent, Great Britain.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_04.jpg”, “text”: “L’Equipe, France.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_02.jpg”, “text”: “Sud Ouest, France.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_03.jpg”, “text”: “De Tijd, Belgium.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_05.jpg”, “text”: “Libération, France.”}

The terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo that happened in January 2015 resulted in a powerful resentment wave among cartoonists, illustrators and world media. Cartoons and “Je Suis Charlie” slogans on black background appeared worldwide in the days and weeks following the tragedy.

Court Ruling on Refutation of Information
Kommersant newspaper, Russia

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_11.jpg”, “text”: “”}

In January 2005 Kommersant, a Russian daily newspaper, came out with an edition with very little text. It all started on July 7, 2004, with a small article on the banking crisis with a mention of “Alfa-Bank.” The bank’s management alleged the article was harmful to the bank’s business reputation and brought the newspaper to court. Kommersant had to pay $1 million to the bank in a compensation, and publish a refutation that had to placed in the same place in the layout as the initial article, and using the same font. The editorial office did not agree with this ruling and published the refutation on a blank page, upside down.

Commemorating 9/11 Victims
The New Yorker, USA

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/newyorker_01.jpg”, “text”: “9/11/2001, Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly. The issue of September 24, 2001.”}

The New Yorker issue on September 24, 2001 was dedicated to the memory of those killed in the collapse of the twin towers. Every successive year the magazine has done the same. The illustrations change from year to year, but the message remains intact.

On the tenth anniversary of the disaster the weekly’s art director Françoise Mouly shared the story of the creation of the September 24th, 2001 edition: “Ten years ago, my husband, the cartoonist Art Spiegelman, our daughter and I stood four blocks away from the second tower as we watched it collapse in excruciatingly slow motion. Later, back in my office, I felt that images were suddenly powerless to help us understand what had happened. The only appropriate solution seemed to be to publish no cover image at all—an all-black cover. Then Art suggested adding the outlines of the two towers, black on black. So from no cover came a perfect image, which conveyed something about the unbearable loss of life, the sudden absence in our skyline, the abrupt tear in the fabric of reality.”

Limitation of the Freedom of Speech
Estonian, Georgian and Ukrainian media

{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_15.jpg”, “text”: “Korrespondent magazine cover reading: We have come out with a blank cover because they are trying to make us keep our mouths shut, our freedom is taken away from us. *We didn’t cancel the blank cover even after the initiator of the bill on slander withdrew it, because we do not want any such bills to ever be passed in the Ukraine in future.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_16.jpg”, “text”: “Ulitsa Zarechnaya newspaper cover saying: We have come out with a blank front page because they are trying to deprive us of the freedom of speech. (see full story on page 2)”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_17.jpg”, “text”: “Persha Myska newspaper.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_18.jpg”, “text”: “Khroniki Lyubarta newspaper.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_19.jpg”, “text”: “KyivPost newspaper.”},
{“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Protest_21.jpg”, “text”: “Estonian newspapers: Äripäev, Ohtuleht, Postimee.”}

One of the most common forms of protest in the media is a blank front page. This protest method was used in 2010 by a number of Estonian newspapers. They were showing their resentment towards a bill that would have put considerable limitations on journalistic work. In 2012 Ukrainian media protested in the same manner against the infamous bill on slander. In 2011 in Georgia a few major newspapers came out with blank front pages to protest against the arrest of three photographers on charges of espionage for Russia.

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