Paul is once again regularly huffing on blogospheric crackpipe. I for one welcome his relapse. Stuart White recently commented on the aftermath and media coverage of the May 26th protests in London, the TUC’s March for the Alternative. The media have, perhaps understandably, focussed on the violence of a minority of protesters – urged on by the witterings of ex-thugs.
Paul identifies Stuart’s two central claims, that the media is not forced to focus on the violence, and that in doing so the media is being fundamentally disrespectful to the 100,000 of non-violent protesters.
Paul responds that the media is forced to cover the protests in the most provocative way possible because they face the “high-powered incentive” of going bust if they do not get eye’s and ears on their product. It follows that disrespect is inevitable when it is, as it often is, the most profitable angle.
I will return to an old theme. I think everyone commenting on the media, Stuart included, possibly Paul too, massively underestimate the extent to which the primary role of the media is to entertain, as I’ve argued before. In fact, that somebody is commenting on the media is a signal that they themselves take the media too seriously.
Disrespect sells. Stuart knows this, so I think a better reading of his post is as proposed tactic to make disrespect a less profitable journalistic angle. To some extent, I think his plan may work, as stories that are meant to be about violence are derailed and interviewers made to feel uncomfortable or look stupid.
I am not convinced it will have a big effect in aggregate, but it may well be useful for those being interviewed to have in mind Stuart‘s “That line of questioning is disrespectful, let me tell you about my experience…” Doing so disarms the media, allows you to tell your story, and weakens the narrative that democratic protests are illegitimated by the violence of a minority.