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Peaceful Protest Should Be Newsworthy Too

January 5, 2022

Often now people want to make their views known on the difficult issues of the day (or decade, or indeed century..). But to what extent may citizens challenge the law in drawing attention to these views?
Is it ethically – though maybe not legally – okay, say, to cause traffic jams as a protest against climate change?
Or perhaps – a more minority concern – to scale a palace rooftop in support of ‘dads’ rights’?

My letter to The Guardian published today suggests that if a concern is widespread, the media have a duty to report it as news before it becomes a matter of illegal action.  Below is the text of the letter.  What’s your view?

Peaceful protest should be newsworthy too

The media, by and large, take no notice of polite expressions of concern. It’s time that changed, says Hilary Burrage

As one who, over the past half-century, has supported many of the green and social justice issues to which you refer in your editorial (The Guardian view on climate activism: between obedience and resistance, 29 December), I would suggest that there is one vital aspect that remains unacknowledged. While I personally have not engaged in direct disruptive action, I can see why some feel that they need to do more.

The media, by and large, take no notice of polite expressions of concern. Even marches in the hundreds of thousands are regularly ignored. It is widely believed that only more extreme action attracts news coverage.

Might not progressive and socially responsible media such as the Guardian help here, by reporting, in a timely manner, more of the peaceful demonstrations by thoughtful people of their concerns about the green agenda, human rights, responsible politics etc? It would be good to know that extreme action is not (in the minds of some) excusable, because the views of concerned citizens will be reported without recourse first to potentially perilous or illegal behaviours.

If the new intended legislation on demonstrations comes into force, the onus will lie even more on media outlets to report widely held green, social and ethical concerns in ways that do not require a minority of worried citizens to put themselves and/or others at risk.

Journalistic commentary on threats to our planet, politics and human rights is always welcome, but surely not all valid concerns need to become risky, action-packed drama before they can become reportable (also) as news?
Hilary Burrage

Read other Letters and Articles in The Guardian by Hilary Burrage.

Your Comments on this topic are welcome.  
Please post them in the box which follows these announcements…..

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Books by Hilary Burrage on female genital mutilation

18.04.12 FGM books together IMG_3336 (3).JPG

Eradicating Female Genital Mutilation: A UK Perspective (Hilary Burrage, Ashgate / Routledge 2015).
Full contents and reviews   HERE.

FEMALE MUTILATION: The truth behind the horrifying global practice of female genital mutilation  (Hilary Burrage, New Holland Publishers 2016).
Full contents and reviews   HERE.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 5, 2022 11:42

    Excellent and needed advice to the media. Hopefully, they’ll heed it. Thanks, Hilary!

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