The Student Protest: The good, the bad and the ugly

Posted on December 9, 2010


The good, bad or ugly? Mike Sergeant doing stirling work in Central London. (Image obtained from live BBC coverage 9/12/2010)

Quite apart from being disappointed with the result of the vote on tuition fees in the house of commons, news coverage of the student protest in central London has driven me mad.

It started well, with reports delivered from several reporters on the ground, reporting that the protest had begun peacefully – there were several interviews with representatives from several student groups, including NUS president Aaron Porter. <!–more–>

But as we all know this scene did not last long. I was impressed with the tenacity of the reporters to get in the mix while police clashed with protesters, but amid the excitement of delivering reports whilst dodging the odd lobbed brick, I think journalism was given a back seat.

Very quickly the media seemed to take the side of the police, continually announcing updates of injured personnel, describing the objects being thrown and playing the interview from a senior police figure, who seemed to blame a lot of the trouble on the fact that protesters had not followed the agreed route.

‘What agreed route?’ They asked

‘The route agreed with NUS’

Did anyone actually listen to some of the protesters interviewed on the scene? Did they sound knowledgeable, reasonable and mature?

Or were they knowledgeless, excitable and unintelligible?

I very much doubt that the majority of students, sixthformers and school kids have any idea who Aaron Porter is let alone any idea of what route they were supposed to take.

Half of them, when interviewed, didn’t even seem to know much about why they were there at all.


Earlier in the day it was reported that police had already identified members of anarchic groups who were amongst students – put two and two together and it is pretty safe to assume that they were involved in much of the trouble.

Also forgotten is the reason why police clashed so violently in the first instance.

After being told they could exit Parliament Square in one direction, police suddenly changed their minds, cordoned off the route – and played the injured party as surprise, surprise – people got a little peeved about not being allowed to leave.

Sprinkle the odd cavalry charge into the mix and the result is you’ve embedded an idea in the protester’s minds that the police are out to get them.

There is no right or wrong in this situation – violence is deplorable no matter who feels they have the right to point the finger.

However, ignorance or short sightedness in reporting is infuriating.


Posted in: News