The Publicity of Protests

Want your cause to get heard by the media? It seems that violence is the way to go.

disorder education cuts media nick cordingly Peace police protests publicity student protest tuition fees violence

All sensible people would, I’m sure, agree with me that violence has absolutely no place in student protest. Brute force by the minority undermines the peaceful and sensible sentiments of the vast majority.

But would the media agree with this? There was a distinct lack of press coverage of the protest against education cuts and tuition fee rises in London a few weeks ago – especially compared to previous demonstrations in the last year. What coverage there was focused mainly on the threat of violence and the massive police presence there to prevent any potential breakouts.

They came. They fought. They got headlines.

The simple fact is, peaceful demonstrations are boring. Our current world of 24-hour rolling news has little interest in displaying footage of young people calmly marching through central London bearing placards. What they want is images of looting, smashing, and fighting, police charges, kettling, screaming and mayhem that’ll get everyone watching them.

Photographers outnumber protestors at scenes of disorder in order to snap pictures to splash across the front pages, where the papers will shriek with disgust at the breakdown of our society and the irresponsibility of today’s youth. As a handy side effect these stories will boost falling readerships.

It is all part of the media’s desire to create a grand narrative of violence and disorder as a result of the international economic crisis. They connect riots and protests worldwide in a dramatic montage of scenes which imply our world is ending.

And it’s all someone’s fault, be it the government, the bankers, the single mothers, or any other target determined chiefly by left- or right-wing agendas.

While violent protest is, of course, deplorable, I think the delight that many in the media seem to get from showing it is almost as bad.  Until they start ignoring the unacceptable actions of a minority these people will keep doing such things, knowing that it will continue to get them attention.

So, generic media, deny the violent minority the oxygen of publicity, talk to the sensible 99% and we may prevent violence breaking out again.