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Guy Fawkes: the medium is the message!

Jonathan Kent

6th November 2013

Jonathan Kent examines the diverse media coverage of last night's Guy Fawkes protests in London. The reports tell us more about media prejudices, than about the event itself.

The Guardian only managed to run Press Association copy.

Last night's Anonymous-inspired November 5th protests in London and hundreds of other cities around the world provide an object lesson in the fact that there is no such thing as neutral reporting.

The BBC, which has attracted numerous complaints for the lack of coverage of anti-cuts demonstrations, lead their story on the fact that there had been scuffles and fifteen arrests. The BBC's early coverage barely mentioned the wider context of a worldwide million-mask-march protest - a reference to the Guy Fawkes masks inspired by Alan Moore's graphic novel V for Vendetta that have become a hallmark of the Anonymous and Occupy movements.

The BBC's updated report did mention protests in other cities but it took the Huffington Post to map the global extent of the anti-austerity demonstrations that took place, appropriately, on Guy Fawkes night.

The Daily Telegraph zoomed in on the fact that riot police had shown up and that glass bottles were thrown, while a bonfire was set ablaze just yards from the gates of Buckingham Palace. The Telegraph failed to make use of its fabled network of palace insiders so we have no idea whether Her Maj feared for the safety of the corgis. However the Telegraph, like the BBC, downplayed the size of the protest reporting that only 'hundreds' attended.

The Daily Mirror meanwhile lured its readers in with the news that the motor-mouthed but undeniably handsome Russell Brand had continued to plough his newfound revolutionary furrow by turning up to the event. The Mirror, like the HuffPo, opted to report that ‘thousands' had turned up and that the London event and its many echoes around the world were 'largely peaceful'.

The Guardian only managed to run Press Association copy. For shame!

For The Independent it was also all about Brand, not least his decision to remove his mask so that he was no longer Anonymous but Russell Brand!

What has largely been lacking has been any insight into the growth of global protest movements broadly united across borders and cultures by a belief that the global economic crisis was not only caused by a tiny minority of very rich and very powerful people. And that the response of Governments, rather than bringing about a rebalancing, has only accelerated growing inequalities.

Jonathan Kent is a freelance journalist, broadcaster and commentator.


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