Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dealing With The Distortion

Happy to persist with the risk that its inflammatory "coverage" will make its use of the term "Liverpool Riots" a self-fulfilling prophesy, Oldham Hall Street may well have serious questions to answer in the final reckoning.
A reckless disregard for responsible reporting I fully expect from the Daily Ghost & Oldham Echo. Sadly, Seven Streets otherwise informative & vivid take on events also makes use of the inaccurate "Liverpool Riots" tag ( ).
It's at times like this that a voice offering perspective & proportion is required. Kevin Sampson provides it in a piece he's penned for the Guardian's Comment is Free website ( ). [Oh, yes, it should be noted, en passant, that the "Liverpool Riots" appellation is the work of a lazy sub editor rather than Sampson himself.]
Sampson opens his piece by reflecting on his memories of 1981 & concludes with salient points & telling anecdotes (which merit full quotation) from Monday night that Messrs Machray & Thomas would do well to digest:
"In spite of isolated incidents and the now symbolic sight of purple wheelie bins ablaze, there was nothing one could describe as insurrection. The police were visible when necessary, but seemingly content to work in tandem with the youth leaders, too. If it hadn't have been for the phalanx of reporters, no one would have known anything out of the ordinary had happened.
"Speaking to reporters, one of the Toxteth youth workers, Jimmy Jagney, said that while he and his colleagues had been able to quell and disperse kids they knew well from around and about Liverpool 8, they had also identified two large gangs of youths, none of whom they recognised. His assumption was the youths had assembled in the hope of opportunistic looting, and his team quickly advised them to take off, and take their ambitions for notoriety elsewhere. Just as myself and my mates did in 1981, they felt a bit foolish when confronted and slunk away home.
"We live in a time of instant news. Whether it is camera crews sitting in medieval European squares as they wait for football hooligans to get drunk and provide rowdy footage, or plucky frontline reporters with pinhole cameras in their lapel as they maraud with the youth, our media suppliers are fanning the flames. They're making a case, and making a story that doesn't -- or needn't -- exist. If our politicians really want to know what's going on, they should give Jimmy Jagney a call. In the meantime, nothing to see here -- move along."
On Sampson's final point, I suspect Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson won't make that call, preferring, instead, to feed Oldham Hall Street with asinine soundbites. 

1 comment:

David Lloyd said...

Thanks for assessing our coverage as informative. That's all we're trying to do. We're not on a nice commission from the Guardian, nor are we peeping from behind our blinds in a Victorian villa in Oxton saying 'nothing to see here. It doesn't become a riot until I can secure the book and film rights.' We use the term riots because that's what it feels like to the residents of those streets, at that time, terrified to step outside their door. And we print what we see, what our readers are telling us, and where the 'disturbances' are happening, in as close to real time as possible. We also know that, by using the term that people are searching for, we can direct people to the story, posted at midnight, of volunteers meeting this morning to clear up. We're very careful with our words. You'll see no scally scum in our coverage - we know the situation is far more nuanced than any spiteful soundbite. That said, you can take grammatical pedantry too far: we doubt many people were searching for Liverpool mild skirmishes last night, wondering how they could help clear up this city this morning.