This week, Charlie does the reporting of the G20 protests, which during the live feeds actually comes out pretty balanced. Buffoonish (there’s a quote in there from Tony Benn, asking Sky News why they weren’t broadcasting the speeches so viewers could understand what people were actually, you know, protesting about), but giving an even hand to the aggressive flare-ups and the largely peaceful majority. In the bulletin reports, the standout images of bleeding heads and breaking glass took precedence and gave the impression that over-heated predictions of rioting had been realised. But this mass coverage did nothing in the way of explaining events overall, or capturing the biggest story of the day:
And here’s the irony: at a public event granted absolute saturation coverage, with all the press photographers, live feed images, Skycopters, preposterous Skyboats and all, the news had missed perhaps the most important image of the day. In the end, it took some old-fashioned investigative reporting and member of the public to bring this image to the nation’s attention: some disturbing footage of a man being pushed over by the police. Shortly after, he died of a heart attack.
(That was Wednesday. As of yesterday, we know that Ian Tomlinson’s death was a bit more complicated than that, and there are two other similar cases now being looked at by the IPCC.) I like Truman Capote’s crack about the beat poets – that they were typing, not writing. And 24-hour news coverage is just broadcasting, not reporting.