Missing the real story

If all publicity is good publicity, the anti-globalization movement should be in great shape.

The violence and destruction surrounding the major international summit meetings in Seattle, Prague, Quebec City, Gothenberg and Genoa have certainly attracted public attention to the protestors. The beating of sleeping protestors and the death of protestor Carlo Guiliani at the G8 summit in Italy two weeks ago created the most exciting headlines yet for the media industry.

But media attention that focuses on protest violence at the expense of protest issues is not helping the protestors, the government, or anyone else.

The media has polarized both the views and the actions of the protestors versus ‘the establishment’ in the recent demonstrations, giving the impression that there is no middle ground between the groups.

After each new round of protest, the media recycles the same rhetoric from both sides, the same rhetoric they have been quoting since Seattle. No effort is spent developing the stances of either side; the general public knows little more about the alternatives being suggested than they did before the protests began.

The protestors themselves must take some of the blame for this. The failure of traditional political structures to listen to their voices may have necessitated their change of tactics from words to direct action. However, their rash actions are now drowning out their words—words that deserve to be heard.

Rather than complimenting their demands, the actions of a violent minority of protestors have hijacked the media stage. They steal media space from peaceful groups and serious discussion, and allow all protestors to be painted with the same black brush.

Yet the greater criminals in this matter are the newspapers, radio and television.

Instead of trying to portray the players as the protagonists in a Star Wars-type confrontation, let’s have some responsible journalism. Let’s hear the voices of the moderates on both sides and have some deeper analysis of the issues at stake.

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