Media Minefields

Just recently I granted an interview to someone from a local news agency about my work as a village wisewoman.  I was initially reluctant as we had been badly let down by poor reporting in the past.  I requested editorial input and specifically asked that my interview would not be offered to any tabloid publications.  These conditions were agreed to and the interview went ahead. 

Weeks went by and I must admit that it slipped to the back of my mind as I was kept busy by other concerns.  However I was brought up short a few days ago by seeing the following headline come up on my news alerts:  UK’s only ‘official witch’ puts spell on the tax man and claims expenses for magic – The Daily Star

Me at the Maidens

Not only had the agency reneged on what we had agreed upon, but they had thrown me to the lions by choosing to give the interview to the worst possible tabloid for publication.  To say I was incensed would be an understatement!  The only positive thing about it was the quality of the photography by a young man called James, sadly we didn’t find out his full name.  Since then the story appears to have gone global by appearing in various local newspapers from India to Australia and the Americas.  

Once I had calmed down somewhat I realised that the majority of the article remained true to what I had said, but there were some added inaccuracies which were annoyingly left in despite my correcting the interviewer on them earlier.  For instance, I have never claimed to be the ‘only official village witch in the UK’ – nor do I cast spells indiscrimately as suggested.  However, what truly bewilders me is, why all this sudden media attention and sensationalism about something that actually happened and was reported on 25 years ago?  I include a newspaper clipping to prove my point.

Business start up

So, why I am I surprised I hear some of you saying?  Well, quite frankly, it’s not good enough to just let the media off the hook in that way.  Why do they report inaccurately, especially when it comes to anything remotely to do with magic or alternative spiritualities or lifestyles.  Headlines in particular are often spurious and always sensational in order to attract the worst kind of attention.  TV also is just as guilty of this type of behaviour.  In the past I have appeared on all sorts of feature programmes about my work as a wisewoman, but almost inevitably the introduction to such footage contains spooky music and/or sound effects – owls hooting and the like.  I notice members of the clergy are never accompanied by organ music or heavenly choirs!  It’s all so tiresome, unnecessary and belittles the subject matter. 

Social media can also be a minefield.  As this story spread, so the article appeared on many social media forums and groups.  Subsequently we were informed about certain remarks made.  Given that most people know that the media often exaggerates and stretches the truth, lots of comments were based on the assumption that it was all accurate, and I was judged accordingly.  I joined one such group recently in order to join in the discussion that my article had triggered.  Imagine my surprise when my introductory comment was declined.  I had assumed that I would have had a right to reply since they were discussing me.  Unsurprisingly I didn’t bother staying in that group.  

So why do I have anything to do with the media at all?  Well, in the past I used media as a platform to help inform and educate the general public about folk magic and paganism in general.  I saw it as part of campaigning for human rights.  I still have that point of view, but I’m getting too old and cranky to want to have any further dealings with newspapers.  Sad really…  😦 

 

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11 thoughts on “Media Minefields

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  1. Well said. I have to confess I did laugh out loud at the thought of anyone of the church having a heavenly theme played. Would make the TV shows more interesting “here is the local Vicar of Christchurch” accompanied by the Vicar of Dibbly theme. I have an interest in witches, folktales etc and recently bought a stack of books from The Works. The shop assistant took one look at me and asked me if I was a Witch? I was being pushing in a wheelchair, had on jeans, beanie hat, hair in plaits in rather boring attire! My husband was about to jump in to defend my choice of purchases but feeling rather jaded I jumped in and said “yes!”. Not comparing myself to the poor souls who were accused of Witchcraft hundreds of years ago but I must confess I found it amazing to even be asked??? I should have checked to see if the local news reported of witches buying books!

  2. I stumbled upon an older interview of yours years ago and have been an admirer ever since. When this new article came across my feed earlier this morning all I thought to myself was,
    “ah! a foolish journalist, but very happy to see that lady is still well!”
    I went looking for that old interview and rewatched it and was reminded of how much you inspired me when I first found it.

    We are living in very strange times and your presence has left a mark on a student of wildcraft all the way in Providence, RI, USA
    Thank you for your work and all you do.
    Shan

  3. Well said Cassandra. I must admit when I began my apprenticeship with you as Wisewoman and Teazer, the inaccuracies of articles was a huge shock to me, especially when we had to deal with the consequences of their mistakes. As years have passed, I do not take them so seriously, as that is how ‘tabloids’ operate, but I understand your annoyance. Readers with intelligence will see it for what it is! 🙂 x

  4. Oh lovely Cassandra, I have followed you with interest ever since you first hit the news (I believe it was TSW and The Western Morning News). Having had the honour to meet you many times in the intervening years (you give the best hugs). It’s awful that we still feel shock at the gurt dollops of trash these people pass off as fact, the fact is although things have improved in the years I’ve been practicing the craft, it’s just not enough. I am unashamedly loud and proud to be The Witch on Wheels, you have to take some of the credit for that. By being loud and proud I can bust myths and make people see the good side of what we do. Please don’t get angry, just rise above it as you have always done, you are an absolute inspiration. Lots of love to you and Laetitia xxx

  5. There seems to be no middle ground with media. We feel like interviews should be part of both community education and personal promotion. But time and again, we’re “quoted” in the most sensational way. It helps no one–except media ratings.

  6. I did see a snippet of this interview on facebook, but thought the headline was rather sensationalised, and was well out of date. So sorry that they deceived you and upset you. xx

  7. I just read said article, and it led me to your blog. But I get the nuances that media implies by leaving out certain information. I am interested in what you are doing and congratulate yourself and your pardner for the work…..

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