POLITICS: Why does the Media ignore British protests?

Unless you’re one of those people who keeps an eye out for upcoming demonstrations, it’s unlikely you’ve heard much about the recent Occupy Democracy protests. Strange as it might seem, hundreds of people gathering daily in Parliament square in an attempt to change British democracy has not been deemed newsworthy by mainstream news outlets.

Though future events have been organised, a continued occupation like those of Wall Street and the London Stock Exchange has been impossible, as the local authority for the City of Westminster has powers to ‘confiscate items that count as sleeping equipment or a structure’, such as mattresses and tents. What did emerge in the media is that protestors found, much to their surprise, that umbrellas and tarpaulin also count as sleeping equipment in the eyes of the law, and were therefore removed. This was probably due to the arrest (and subsequent un-arrest) of Green Party peer Jenny Jones, whose profile and consequent outrage at the way people were treated within the heart of our country’s democracy gave the movement a partial platform from which to be heard.

If you cast your mind back, you may recall headline news stories on the BBC about the student demonstrations in Hong Kong, after it emerged that the government was cherry-picking candidates for their next election. While the demonstrations in Hong Kong are undoubtedly much larger in scale than those in London, it seems a glaring omission by news outlets to neglect them in favour of the column inches being eaten up by the poly-syllabic faux anti-establishment nonsense of Russell Brand.

I’m unaware how news outlets choose what stories they run, but it seems convenient that while the police in Parliament Square erupted into draconian hysteria, fencing off grass and patrolling with dogs, the media has decided that what is happening is too trivial to be broadcasted. If it is overbearingly unpleasant to protest for a change in our democracy, and people are prevented from hearing about it other than by word of mouth and social media, then, more than likely, nothing will change. It’s simpler that way, and allows the established powerhouses of the media world and law enforcement to remain firmly in their place.

occupylondon_nov2014Flickr
Occupy Parliament Square, London, Oct 2014. All image credits, Flickr user Sheilabythesea https://www.flickr.com/photos/26288540@N03/

While big business rules, it is unlikely that a movement like Occupy Democracy will ever gain extensive media exposure. Wealthy corporations bank-roll and lunch with politicians, while cosying up to the CEOs of news outlets (or owning/running them, step forward Rupert Murdoch). It’s not in the interests of those that have gained an exorbitant wealth and power in the current system to support those who want to change it, so instead, they squash it. With the media blackout firmly in place, the only way of acquiring a detailed knowledge of the events promoting an alternative worldview is through the ever-giving resource that is the internet. Unfortunately, most people would prefer to look at ‘funny autocorrects’ on Facebook, so delay the revolution a little while yet.By Lennon Craig.

The Verse Staff

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