The Giving Lens

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Media coverage of the English Riots

BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky News, Twitter, Youtube, Blogs, RT, Aljazeera, etc etc. Where ever you have been following the footage of the riots around England, one thing has me questioning the agenda of these media outlets. In the past few hours, Twitter exploded talking about a tv channel that seemed to have just appeared out of nowhere. This channel is Sanghat TV. It can be found on Sky Channel 847 and online via blogs/Ustream feeds. This channel only has, or at least tonight only had 2 reporters, 2 cameras 1 van and a small crew to do everything. More than two hours ago, (around 03.40 am GMT) Upinder Randhawa, one of the journalists for this channel, broke the story that 3 men had been severly injured in a 'traffic collision' and were subsequently rushed to hospital in Dudley, Birmingham.

Reporting live outside the hospital amid a crowd of people, Upinder asked why he and his team seemed to be the only people reporting about this and other events in and around Birmingham during the day. Where were the mainstream media? He was alone at the hospital. The users of Twitter (I care not for ridiculous names such as the twitterati ect)were asking the same questions and let the likes of the BBC and Sky News know how they felt about it. Live footage at the time on Sangat TV showed the reaction of a brother of one or more of the victims (I could be wrong about the man's connection to the victims as I couldnt verify that)when he had recieved word that two of the 3 men had indeed died. It was intense and a bit hard to watch.

For the next hour, twitter users, myself included, were asking why the mainstream media seemed totally in the dark about this. The Sangat TV people are un-paid volunteers. Surely the might of Sy News, a 24 hour, 7 day a week, world wide news organisation could have verified and reported this in a very short time. And thats just Sky News. There are hundreds of news agencies that pride themselves on 'Breaking News'. As I sit here writting this, Sky News have indeed reported this story ( A mere one hour + after the fact) and as it turns out, according to an eye witness Sky News interviewed live via telephone, the 3 victims were apparently run down deliberatly by unidentified assailants. A murder investigation is now underway, according to Local Police. While Uphinder, at the scene, and the man interviewed on Sky both claim that the 3rd victim has also died, Sky News cannot confirm this at the present time.

My question? Was this simply a story that the mainstream news media decided to ignore for a certain period of time? While Twitter was ablaze with this story, and various stories during the day based on the reporting of Sangat Tv, both the BBC and Sky continuely reported the same stories over and over and over again, frustrating many. Keep in mind, Sky News used footage from Sangat Tv in its own broadcasts today several times and according to Uphinder, both the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and even CNN approached them in order to use their footage so obviously they were worthy enough and good enough reporters if the likes of those mentioned wanted to use their stuff. A possible reason for this apparent media blackout? Wait long enough to report this story so as to reduce any kind of possible reprisals? That opens up many more questions in my opinion. When we watch these so called 'Breaking News' Channels, are we really getting 'Breaking News'? Is it drip fed to us only after its been edited to suit the agenda of the the people broadcasting it? Endless, instant footage comes of the destruction happening in various cities around the world and indeed England these last few days. The majority of it negative and fearful. What I saw tonight, while sad, was real. It showed Muslims and Sikhs in a very positive light I must say and Upinder himself spent the night delivering very positive and passionate points of view in regards to the situation all the people of England have found themselves in.

Have I been caught up in the drama of it all? Perhaps. I do realise that a professional news agency needs to have if not all, then most of the facts before commiting to a story, but you and I would both be niieve in thinking everything we see in the mainstream news media is true and unbiased.

I just thought this was a very interesting development. While Sky News and the BBC spent hours replaying the same footage of Manchester and Liverpool and covering and recapping the same stories and interviews, Upinder and the Sangat team provided live, on the ground coverage almost uninterupted.

The lesson from all of this, if there is one, I guess is this: dont rely on just one or two sources for your information. Get out there, Search for as much as you can from as many sources as you can in order to build a fuller picture. The analogy of Plato's Cave comes to mind more and more.