In Defence of Liberty

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Copy and Haste I: Blackout

Was there a media blackout, as a failed Labour parliamentary candidate implied? (Edited: ITV)

Was there a media blackout, as a failed Labour parliamentary candidate implied? (Edited: ITV)

The great advantage of social media is that information can be spread swiftly. This increased haste can cause people to lose accuracy in their political statements.

George Aylett, a failed Labour parliamentary candidate [1] with around 255,000 Twitter followers, posted to the micro-blogging website:

There are 80000 in Manchester marching on the streets to oppose austerity. Where are the media reports? #No2Austerity

Several articles were published of the march’s intention, prior to the protest beginning. For instance, an article on the ITV website [2] said:

Union leaders and officials from a range of campaign groups will address a rally and attack government policies after the conference formally opens on Sunday.

The protest is due to start at 12:30pm.

In addition, Manchester Evening News had continued coverage of the anti-austerity protests [3], including the rave in Piccadilly Gardens.

Time

The reason for the dearth of articles about the protests that Mr Aylett complains about was not a secretive media conspiracy against the anti-austerity movement, or a cabal in favour of the Conservative Party, but simply the tyranny of time. Mr Aylett made his post on Twitter at 1:18pm, when the protests were meant to commence at 12:30pm.

(Source: George Aylett / Twitter)

(Source: George Aylett / Twitter)

That is a difference between the protest starting and Mr Aylett’s Twitter post of 48 minutes, which is surely insufficient time for a respected media organisation to estimate attendance, write the content, find photos and other embedded media, check their facts, make sub-edits, and publish to their website. In news reporting, inaccuracy taints the media organisation, meaning that truth is preferred to speed.

The protests have been covered by the BBC, the ITV, Channel 4, The Mirror, The Guardian, City AM, Yahoo! News, Business Standard, among others [4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11].

There was no media blackout. Despite all this coverage, Mr Aylett’s post had received over 350 retweets.

References

[1] BBC, 2015. Wiltshire South West. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/politics/constituencies/E14000954 [Accessed: 4th October 2015]

[2] ITV, 2015. Thousands expected to attend anti-austerity protest at Tory conference. Available from: http://www.itv.com/news/2015-10-04/thousands-expected-to-attend-anti-austerity-protest-at-tory-conference/ [Accessed: 4th October 2015]

[3] Hibbert, A., 2015. Piccadilly Gardens protest rave: Hundreds join Manchester anti-austerity protest for second night. Manchester Evening News. Available from: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/piccadilly-gardens-protest-rave-hundreds-10190126 [Accessed: 4th October 2015]

[4] BBC, 2015. Manchester march: Large protest at Tory conference. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-34433017 [Accessed: 4th October 2015]

[5] ITV, 2015. Thousands protest as Conservative party conference begins. Available from: http://www.itv.com/news/story/2015-10-04/thousands-protest-as-conservative-party-conference-begins/ [Accessed: 4th October 2015]

[6] Channel 4, 2015. Manchester protest: thousands march in anti-austerity rally. Available from: http://www.channel4.com/news/manchester-protest-thousands-march-in-anti-austerity-rally [Accessed: 4th October 2015]

[7] Bloom, D., 2015. Protesters descend on Tory conference as 60,000 march through the streets against austerity. The Mirror. Available from: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/protesters-descend-tory-conference-60000-6571739 [Accessed: 4th October 2015]

[8] Pidd, N., 2015. Anti-austerity protesters march in Manchester. The Guardian. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/oct/04/anti-austerity-protestors-march-manchester-demonstration-conservative-party-conference [Accessed: 4th October 2015]

[9] Barber, L., 2015. Thousands march in Manchester anti-austerity protests at Conservative party conference. City AM. Available from: http://www.cityam.com/225744/thousands-march-manchester-anti-austerity-protests-conservative-party-conference [Accessed: 4th October 2015]

[10] Yahoo! News, 2015. Tens of thousands protest against UK government. Available from: http://news.yahoo.com/tens-thousands-protest-against-uk-government-144258135.html [Accessed: 4th October 2015]

[11] Business Standard, 2015. Tens of thousands protest against UK government. Available from: http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/tens-of-thousands-protest-against-uk-government-115100400773_1.html [Accessed: 4th October 2015]

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One comment on “Copy and Haste I: Blackout

  1. Pingback: ‘You won’t hear this in the media’ | In Defence of Liberty

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