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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!)

Originally posted to peacemom528 on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 07:13 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well done peacemom. (12+ / 0-)

    You should put up a tip jar.

    "The truth shall set you free - but first it'll piss you off." Gloria Steinem

    Iraq Moratorium

    by One Pissed Off Liberal on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 07:17:28 AM PDT

  •  You are right (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bill W, The Raven, ppl can fly

    Violence on the part of the few protesters really harms the overall message.

  •  The reporting I saw on CNN (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JFinNe

    characterized the protesters as mostly discrete factions with specific agendas, along with a few anarchists that typically show up at these sort of things.  Don't overgeneralize...

    No politician ever lost an election by underestimating the intelligence of the American public. PT Barnum, paraphrased...

    by jarhead5536 on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 07:24:47 AM PDT

    •  Agree - CNN may be saying one thing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PJ Jefferson

      but the live coverage says something else.  The police quietly stand in line while the protesters swarm in and out.  The police do not interfere with the protesters until there is a need.

      Contrast that with even small protests in the U.S. and the law enforcement to them?

      Which reminds me of the footage of the French pole vaulter who ran naked through the streets in Paris for miles with seemingly no interference.  Could that happen in New York?  I don't think so.

  •  SOLIDARITY to my brothers and sisters..... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Picot verde, Calfacon, ppl can fly

    .....protesting right now. I SHOULD be there with you!!!!

    "...if my thought-dreams could be seen, they'd probably put my head in a guillotine...." {-8.13;-5.59}

    by lams712 on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 07:26:42 AM PDT

  •  Having participated (6+ / 0-)

    in a number of protests back in the day there are aspects that will never change:

    1.  Most protesters may be angry but not violent;
    1.  Large protests attract a small, but significant thug element who are only present to cause trouble;
    1.  The police plant moles -- some of whom are only trying to spot potential trouble; others who like nothing better than to incite problems.

    In every situation, the infotainment industry looks for violence and bloodshed because it makes "good" teevee.  CNN actually have been covering rather extensively the greens who are a peaceful group.  Of course, right now they are repeating the earlier assault on RBS.

    I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution. -- Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 07:32:46 AM PDT

    •  In defense of CNN (did I just say that?), it was (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Euroliberal, Ms Citizen

      compelling television to watch the little flare-ups between the crowd and police.  Speaking personally, and I'm almost ashamed to say it, but its true - my excitement level rose when scuffles broke out, and my interest waned when things calmed down.  Of course, if they interviewed protesters and let them air their grievances, instead of just trying to portray them as violent, it would really help inform the public, but just from a ratings standpoint, I think they know what they're doing by peddling potential violence.  Now, if CNN could only get some people in the crowd to have sex......

      Can I please have your attention. I've just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you to stop what you're doing and listen. CANNONBALL!

      by PJ Jefferson on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 08:39:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Generic Protestors (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    milkbone

    Any time a group of government officials meet, we can expect generic protesters. This is the perception of the general public.

    Those who seek to protest through general assembly need to be aware that the ability of physical protest has been greatly weakened because of message dilution. If the WTO or G7 or any similar group meets, it is to be expected that Peace and Freedom, Code Pink, Act Up, SEIU, the Papier Mache people, anarchists, the Young Trotskyites, and PETA will be on hand to protest pretty much everything.

    This dilution of message means that these protestors will always be part of the background and thus they have virtually no message at all.

    protesters gather in London to protest economic, political, and social conditions

    So I think that this is the problem. Instead, to be meaningful, such protest would have to focus on one single issue and be unified behind that issue and stay on message and hammer it home. End the war. End hunger. End police brutality. Stop AIDS. Remove the surveillance cameras. Pick one.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 07:33:17 AM PDT

  •   Ya think? (6+ / 0-)

    It's almost like they have a vested interest in making protests seem irrelevant...

    Such vested interests have virtually made it impossible to stage effective, long-term protest. Thus, many of us find ourselves exactly where "government" wants us to be: in fear of them.  

    I'm not an anarchist, but it would be good if people started realizing the difference between political propaganda and the truth. --John Lennon

    by o the umanity on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 07:35:28 AM PDT

    •  It is supposed to be the other way around... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PJ Jefferson, o the umanity

      ...(government fearing an upset constituency with the motivation and financial means to take time off to protest) but they've been on a 40-year campaign to "prove" that protesting is useless, precisely because it used to be so effective...

      •  Exactly (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ken in MN, cynndara

        except the only thing they seem to have proven is that if The People are going to stage effective protest (in America, anyway), then we have to quit caring about "the financial means to take time off from work" for really important protests.

        In other words, the deck is stacked even further than it was forty years ago. So we are going to have to comprehend and accept the fact that in order for protest to be effective, we will have to be willing to suffer even more than we suffer now--even if it means eventually losing our jobs and our homes. Or worse.

        I would submit that if we do nothing to counter some of what government is doing to us today, we'll lose those things anyway. IMO, it would be better to die on your feet than to live on your knees...just sayin'...

        I'm not an anarchist, but it would be good if people started realizing the difference between political propaganda and the truth. --John Lennon

        by o the umanity on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 07:56:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Effective protest (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dmnyct, o the umanity

          usually involves breaking out the guns and grenades.  Sorry, but under the current regimes, the efficacy of words has been turned into a tool controlled by those who control the Media, and we know who They are.

          Those who rule, rule by force: that's how a State is defined these days, as an organization that maintains "a monopoly on the use of coercive force".  If they have a monopoly, they rule.  If they don't, then they don't.  Simple as that, really.  So the only way to counter them is to break out the long knives.

          Yes, there was once a concept of "nation", or "tribe", or "people" that didn't rely on force; then force was what happened when the needs of such groups collided.  There was a time when "legitimacy" represented a moral condition not based solely on who owned the artillery.  But frankly, that was before artillery was invented.  Moral arguments only work on people who have a moral conscience, and the current economic regimes are cleverly designed to eliminate people like that before they rise to the top.

          •  well, then, if we want to (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ms Citizen

            accomplish anything, apparently, the use of "words" to effectively protest will need to take a back-seat to the use of "guns and/or grenades".

            Moral arguments only work on people who have a moral conscience, and the current economic regimes are cleverly designed to eliminate people like that before they rise to the top.

            Heh. It does give one brief pause, to wonder how Barack Obama got elected in a landslide, then. I think he has a moral conscience, and intended to display it efficiently when he came to Washington. Already, though, we are starting to see that despite his very best intentions, he's in a real pickle: that conscience of his is going to be quickly nullified (if it hasn't already) by those clever people calling the shots for the current economic regime in the United States.

            I'm not an anarchist, but it would be good if people started realizing the difference between political propaganda and the truth. --John Lennon

            by o the umanity on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 10:32:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calfacon

    Interviewers with protesters throughout the summit are vital and necessary. I'm guessing there are several already posted on utube.

  •  They said that some has "inflitrated" the police. (0+ / 0-)

    Apparently 10 arrests in London are of people who came in police gear and joined the protestors. It's an almost ingenious game of subterfuge if they are actual police.

  •  People play into their hands (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maimonides

    when they rush the police like a whole bunch of them did this morning.  Not all of them are the innocents that you think they are.  

    http://politicz.wordpress.com/

    by GlowNZ on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 07:49:38 AM PDT

  •  Tips for fair coverage... (3+ / 0-)

    We will either learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by peacemom528 on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 08:42:31 AM PDT

  •  Condescending Media Coverage (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Euroliberal, Ms Citizen

    This diary is so on point. We were just talking about the pathetic, condescending CNN coverage of the protest. No wonder CNN is in 3rd place.

    "The liberty of speaking and writing guards our other liberties." - Thomas Jefferson

    by pmorlan on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 08:51:39 AM PDT

    •  Others not much better (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dmnyct

      It seems like all the MSM networks are following the same playbook. Cover unimportant and inconsequencial foolishness as though people's lives depend on it while minimizing the most substantive parts. Especially if there are systemic connections between various issues such as economic, social, environmental, and politic concerns. Generalize, minimize, sensationalize, patronize, self-aggrandize, repeat!

      We will either learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

      by peacemom528 on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 09:51:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the serious diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Euroliberal, capelza

    this is the first one i saw on it.  Al-jazeera is covering it btw.

    "It's our daunted restraint that keeps us silent in shame"

    by deadatom on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 09:01:50 AM PDT

  •  Gawd! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Picot verde

    The same CNN guy who was so condescending about the protests is now gushing over Obama meeting the Queen. "This is what I've been waiting for" he said with glee. He's asking some guy in the UK..."so what do we need to know about this meeting" Good god can these people be any more foolish. The woman is a figure head of the country. The guy in England says "why do people like you get so excited about this process?" That was the best question of the whole segment. Why, indeed.

    "The liberty of speaking and writing guards our other liberties." - Thomas Jefferson

    by pmorlan on Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 09:27:09 AM PDT

  •  Gee . .. . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dmnyct

    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.

    You just figured this out?  Hasn't it been obvious since, oh, 1980 at least?  And you forgot corporate control of public education.  Hell, the corporations INVENTED public education as a means of conditioning all the little Workers to be orderly and obedient.  And to stay tuned for further instructions delivered directly by radio and TV.

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