Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Massed Media

There were a large number of photographers at a very small gathering of anti-debt, anti-tax protesters opposite Parliament last Saturday morning. Possibly as many as covered the much larger demonstration, against cuts to benefits and services for the disabled, earlier in the week. Amongst the rather smartly dressed agitators were a few rightist celebrities not normally seen out on the street – UKIP leader Nigel Farage, Conservative blogger Guido Fawkes (Paul Staines), Bill Cash MP – but hardly enough to justify such media interest.

Of course, the rarity of such an event makes it instantly more appealing as a news story, and photos duly appeared in various publications the next day. That novelty value illustrates an essential truth about news: that it has to be - new. It does not report what is, but what has changed, or is different. That is why a train crash makes the national headlines, but the average nine deaths a day on the roads only make the locals. And why so many of the ongoing issues that confront people every day go largely unreported.

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