As I flip between the morning news coverage on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox (yes, I can tolerate it in short doses), I'm struck by the way in which the G20 protests and those protesting are framed. Ever since the "Battle of Seattle," corporate-owned television media have been consistent in minimizing the message and impact of citizen protests here in the US and around the world. It's almost like they have a vested interest in making protests seem irrelevant...
In the groundbreaking documentary, "This is What Democracy Looks Like," footage from hundreds of citizen journalists who filmed, photographed, and otherwise chronicled the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle, WA was compiled to produce a truly comprehensive record of what actually happened on the streets that week.
In addition to compiling and featuring the footage of the people in the streets, the filmmakers contrasted this footage against the "official" local and national news coverage. As you might expect, the news coverage focused on the few incidents of property damage and disorderly behavior by the protesters, rather than explaining the purpose of the protests, the actions of the WTO, or the unprovoked brutality of the police.
Today, as tens of thousands of protesters gather in London to protest economic, political, and social conditions caused by governmental policies and the egregious lack of attention paid by the world's leaders to major environmental concerns, the mainstream media, true to form, are minimizing the logical and well-founded reasons behind the protests and focusing on protester vs. police conflict and broken windows at the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Fox has pretty much ignored the whole event- showing grainy, shaky footage from what seems like a cell phone camera, and cutting quickly to other stories. CNN's morning crew breathlessly hyping conflict between one or two protesters and police saying that a particular man, bleeding from the head, has been "giving the police fits!" Oh my!
Other reporters, clearly uncomfortable being on the street at all, have been combing the fringes of the protest, talking with the more "peaceful" demonstrators and talking about anarchists, trouble-makers, and those seeking thrills without any analysis of the substantive rationale behind this citizen action. We are facing multiple crises- economic, environmental, social, etc.- this is not a frivolous or malicious demonstration! On CNN, just now- the anchor (I don't know her name) just asked a reporter who was explaining the use of social networking by the protesters if the government could find some way to shut those lines of communication down to prevent the demonstrators from communicating! WHAT!?!
Compare this with BBC coverage of the demonstrations:
It seems to me that we are experiencing a combination of the dystopian visions of Aldous Huxley and George Orwell. Between the masses of people who are so sedated by conditioning and modern "soma" and the total control of information by corporate interests, we have lost the understanding of the purpose of free speech, free assembly, and the right of citizens to petition their government for redress of grievances.
I know these protests are taking place in Great Britain, and those concepts I just quoted are from the First Amendment of our US Constitution. I do wonder whether we are willing to seriously challenge our media, create alternative records, and get out in the streets when necessary. (Psst... it's very necessary!)