We are very pleased to announce this month’s speaker: Dr Steven Baker, Lecturer in Film and Television Studies and author — yes, it’s on 1st Nov, but don’t let that fool you, it’s still our October event!
With the media being such an intrinsic part of our lives, understanding and deciphering the bias and uncovering the truth from the untruth can be difficult. Specifically, what impact did the media in Northern Ireland have on the peace process?
Stephen Baker is a Lecturer in Film and Television Studies at the University of Ulster. He is the co-author, with Greg McLaughlin, of The Propaganda of Peace: The role of the media and culture in the Northern Ireland Peace Process (2010) and together they are currently working on a new book entitled The British Media and Bloody Sunday (forthcoming 2013). Stephen also researches and publishes work analysing representations of class in British film and television drama.
The Propaganda of Peace considers the media and broader cultural representation of Northern Ireland during the peace process. In particular it argues that the media played a significant role in persuading the public to accept the new political dispensation. The argues that to really appreciate the cultural shift that attended Northern Ireland’s political transformation, requires us to look across a broad range of factual and fictional representations, from journalism and public museum exhibitions to film, television drama and situation comedy. Ultimately the authors ask whether the ‘propaganda of peace’ actually promotes the abandonment of a politically engaged public sphere at the very moment when public debate about neo-liberalism, financial meltdown and social and economic inequality make it most necessary.
Before enrolling as a mature student in Media Studies at the University of Ulster in the mid-1990s, Stephen made a series of ill-fated attempts at working for living; as a van driver’s mate, a shop assistant and a civil servant. For a short time he was an ineffective shop steward for the Transport and General Workers’ Union and in 1996 stood in the Northern Ireland Forum elections as a Labour Coalition candidate in the Strangford constituency. He didn’t get elected but has the consolation of being on first name terms with just about everyone who voted for him, so few were there.
Stephen is a socialist of no fixed political abode, who defies the maxim that as you get older you get more right-wing.