THE BIG QUESTION: Who came out ahead in the PR battle in Seattle? - Those protesting during the World Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle last week succeeded in attracting worldwide media attention, but their messages were confused

MICHAEL MARX - Reclaim the Streets

MICHAEL MARX - Reclaim the Streets

’The PR battle is not finished yet. The protest in Seattle is part of an

ongoing action. No one thinks they can topple capitalism by Friday

afternoon, but as long as the momentum is maintained, that can be

considered a success. The outcome of the PR battle depends on the media

- a largely capitalist media at that. I think the protests in Seattle

have had more positive than negative coverage, despite the efforts of

the Times in London.

Most people didn’t know of the existence of the WTO before this stink

was kicked up, now they do, and we’ve had generally positive feedback

from the public.’

ANTHONY HILTON - Evening Standard

’There is a feeling that the big multinationals have the ear of the

politicians and therefore shape the deals done in the WTO’s name. The

rest of the world doesn’t have the ear of the politicians and therefore

the WTO becomes a tool of the multinationals. In getting this message

across so that even Clinton tacitly acknowledged it, the NGOs won the

battle. The triumph of activists like Friends of the Earth, Action Aid

and Oxfam, has been to operate at this level in spite of the

contradictions between them. The sheer fact that they have raised the

profile of an anonymous event to worldwide news leaves no doubt that

they won.’


’Press work, lobbying and the prospect of demonstrations put the WTO in

the news, and set a context of concern, long before anyone arrived in

Seattle. The reporting of these talks has been vastly different to

previous negotiations. During the meeting, the demonstration overtook

the issues in the media, but they kept the WTO top story and, crucially,

let governments know that the world is watching. Now negotiators will

feel the presence of public opinion in the rounds of talks that stem

from Seattle and that should keep campaigners’ concerns firmly on the


DAVID STEEL - Ethical Trading Initiative

’The protests that have gone on around the WTO conference in Seattle

have highlighted the fact that there are serious injustices in the

contemporary global economy and these injustices are the reason why the

ETI was set up in the first place. The demonstrations have made people

more aware of the issues that need to be addressed in the global trading

system at the present time. The demonstrators in Seattle have shone a

torch on various aspects of world trade, one of which - improving labour

standards in global supply chains - is the ETI’s main purpose.’

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