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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Media reporting of the London riots

Imagine how you would feel if you were watching a BBC news programme and they referred to England's 1970 World Cup victory, when we all know it was 1966. Well, that's how I felt last night when BBC TV news referred to the "boroughs" of Tottenham and Peckham. There are no boroughs of Tottenham and Peckham. Tottenham is in the London Borough of Haringey and Peckham is in Southwark. London is divided into 32 boroughs and the separate City of London (the Square Mile itself). The names of the boroughs are common currency to anyone who ever talks knowledgeably about London. So if  senior broadcasters refer to Tottenham and Peckham as "boroughs", then they are revealing a lack of fluency in basic Londonese, which makes me think: "If they're getting that wrong, what else are they getting wrong that I'm not noticing?"

I've noticed also that nobody has commented on the religious affiliation of the rioters, which is as it should be, because it is irrelevant. My point being that there is a double standard in how these things are reported. If I suggested that some of these rioters might stem from Christian families and thus might have been radicalised in church groups, people would rightly question my perspicacity. If, however, many of these rioters were British Muslims, the media would be reporting that and we'd be hearing much islamophobic drivel about people having been radicalised, the responsibility of faith leaders to stop the violence, etc. Just a thought. 

Finally, I have to applaud The Independent for sacking Jody McIntyre as one of its bloggers. Following the Johann Hari fiasco, this is another nail in the coffin of any reputation that the paper ever had for being sensible or centrist. What possessed them to appoint Jody McIntyre as a blogger in the first place? I find it bizarre that the paper would respond to his rise to prominence by saying: "Yes, given this man's activities, he is exactly who we need as a blogger - get him on board now!" A paper's choice of retained bloggers tells you something about that paper's ethos - it tells you what the paper would taste like if it was a meal.

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