A Failure of Journalism

8 08 2011

Today’s post is not about gaming, as such. It almost feels cheap to write about this when the topic at hand is so much larger than this minuscule blog, but I can’t think about anything else at the moment. I hope you’ll forgive me if I seem to be trivialising a dreadful situation.

In all the rush of 24-hour news reporting, the riots taking place in London appear completely bewildering, terrifying and shocking; once things have died down perhaps hindsight will tell us they weren’t as big as we thought. Maybe I’ll look at this post in a few months and think that my reaction was senselessly angry, but for now I’m afraid I’m going to vent.

The story in question is a tired one; a news outlet picking on games as a cause of some terrible event. In this case, it’s the Evening Standard, the front page of which proclaims ‘Children as young as ten, inspired by video game, among the looters’. The game in question is, of course, Grand Theft Auto, and this stupid piece of scare-mongering is sourced from the words of one Police officer and one Enfield resident, neither of which is referenced again in the article.

This isn’t vindictive or agenda-driven journalism; it’s pathetic, lazy, journalism that lunges for the nearest scapegoat instead of even thinking, just slightly, about the story at hand. I doubt this angle will appear in any other source and I feel bad for even dignifying it with a response. But when I hear from friends in the city who are concerned for their own friends and family, when I look at endless, universally condemnatory chatter on Facebook about looting and vandalism and moreover when I think about the real problems that could be behind this – social apathy, a disaffected youth – it makes me furious to think that a newspaper could be so feckless as to throw away any sort of journalistic integrity and lunge at gaming as a target again.

My thoughts and the thoughts of all sensible people are with those caught up in the violence and fearing for their safety and livelihood – theirs is the story that should be stamped on the front page.

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One response

9 08 2011
Kirsty Rawlinson

Amen.

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