Tuesday, August 9, 2011

British riots and the media

More and more lately I find myself looking at overseas media to explain the all-important "why" that American media seems too understaffed to answer (I'm being kind, but I do it lack of staffing is why we read about horse-race politics instead of issues and crime report upon crime report without reporters ever seeming to wonder "why?"). Incidentally, this includes American news. The Guardian's reporting on the debt deal is much clearer than what I've read in the US, including explaining the politics behind the maneuvering.

Today, while reading a first-person report about the London riots GlobalPost.com, I saw the media being given at least part of the blame for them, both new and old media. Writer Michael Goldfarb writes that while the underlying causes are complex, television coverage stirred up emotions and texting allowed groups of youths to quickly move to areas without police. The instant news offers what's happening without context (same in Britain as in the US) while new media lets "flash mobs" coordinate. His point -- which I think is valid -- is that without the media, the riots wouldn't have happened or would have been much less volatile.

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