Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Never mind the journalists

I'm hooked on the Guardian's and BBC's coverage of the nationwide student protests. All over the country, university, college and school students are protesting in their thousands - a magnificent spectacle and a little heated in a few places.

What's striking about the BBC coverage is how reactionary and judgemental it is - comments like 'a complete rabble' 'a bit crazy', and surprise that Cambridge students (imagine) are protesting and are angry. There's a concerted effort to focus on the incredibly isolated bits of violence and to praise the 'peaceful' students: the discourse clearly separates 'nice' from 'nasty' with virtually no discussion of the rights and wrongs of the situation. There's no historical context - of education or of student protest - and more than a hint that all these Oxbridge-educated commentators (particularly on the BBC) are revolted by their successors. Certainly the interviewers are parrotting Clegg's and Cameron's lines as though there's no debate to be had.

I like this dispersed protest. The massive London demo was excellent, and certainly caught the media's attention, but concerted efforts in virtually every town in the country from Bolton to Bristol to York means that a much larger proportion of the population have a chance of meeting and listening to them. It's like a mini-general strike. Shame there's nothing happening in The Dark Place, unlike all these towns (rolling updates here).

Manchester, Bristol and Leeds students seem to be doing a magnificent job - as is Simon, the very articulate student talking at length to the BBC, despite their little attempts to bully him ("you condemn the occupation at the previous demo, don't you?", "we only report what we see" - he points out very calmly that news organisations frame all stories, and they choose what that frame is).

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