Tags: #londonriots

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My take on the London riots and the criticism of the role of media amid masses of citizen journalism :

 

That, again, we all seem overly fond of either/or arguments, rather than AND. For example, which is better, mainstream or citizen journalism? Social networks or newspapers?

For me, again, it's both, in answer to both questions.

Social networks gave me a vastly wider view of the riots and the background to them, than, say television networks like the BBC or ABC. 

Yet a lot of the "citizen journalism" on "social networks" led back to newspaper reports, notably the Guardian and the Independent. One of the most outstanding pieces pointed out that 333 people have died in police custody since 1998, as one of the underlying causes of anger. My jaw dropped. Later on, by day four, I found the best round up of Twitter comments on the London riots inside the (printed) pages of my daily newspaper, in this case, the New Zealand Herald, including this one, from a John Naughton :

" What the looting shows is that prosperity doesn't trickle down, but greed does. " 

And this one, in the same round up, from Aled Lewis :

" So can we conclude that having the most CCTV per square foot in the world is not an effective deterrent? "

Meanwhile, most reaction from TV news seemed to centre on a dazed and bloodied youth helped, then robbed, by others youths. Outrage? Sure, heaps. Context? Ah, nah. So is TV the lone write-off amidst the media estates, a worthy target of media criticism? 

Hardly. TV remains the the most immediate and popular of media forms, commanding bigger audiences than any combination of websites or newspapers, feeding eyeballs to other media much as radio did originally. Media critics need to get over their techno fetishism and start analysing the media mix, not the alleged winners and losers. 

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I agree with your points. I think all channels of information correlated nicely with each other, though I still think that (and I come from social media, not media background, hence my approach probably) that mainstream media channels should start focussing on using their reach to help actively during crisis situations, not only analyse the events. 

Another interesting development is the fact that the Guardian was advising Twitter users on verification of information shared on social networks, which I think is a good move. I like to see all channels working together, let's just take it to the next level when we will not talk about the meaning of events while those evolve, but fist focus on help and solutions, later on evaluation. 

 

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Sylwia, that's really interesting about the Guardian verifying Twitter feeds.One of the few initiatives to actually close the gap between what gets 'reported' by citizen media online and what gets reported offline by mainstream media. 

 

Seems to me that the online world has yet to assume as much importance among mainstream media as the usual avenues, press conferences, releases, publicity stunts or even full page ads. The Guardian Twitter hook up is a welcome development, and one that fits in with the correlation theme.

 

I agree it would be nice if the media were to focus on help and solutions, but there are also good reasons for a gap between observers and participants. What if the media suggests help that turns out to be wrong, even costs lives? Wouldn't the emergency response experts be a little alarmed at media leaping into their area of, erm, expertise? I get what you're trying to say, but I still have my reservations.

 

In the case of the riots, even if journalists focused on 'solutions' it might have the unintended effect of exposing counter-measures to rioters, thereby delaying resolution.

 

What emergency response people need most is information, and who better to supply that information than citizen journalists, people on the ground, thousands and thousands of them? And who better to double check that info than professional journalists? 

 

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