Tag Archives: reading the riots

Reading the Riots: who’s bringing the media to account?

I’m watching a group of young people perform a play they devised about the summer riots (or disturbances, if the R word causes you some difficulty). Some of the group were ‘involved’ directly; some were not. What does bind them though is they have all been ‘involved’ with the media’s responses to the events: they have all read the headlines, all seen the TV coverage and, to a lesser or greater extent, been witness to the twitter feed which became a twitter storm in those early days of August.

In their play, the cast act out the early hours of the riots against powerpoint slides of press images, underscored by tracks by Marvin Gaye, The Jam and The Who. There are monolithic pictures of riot police and burning cars, under which the unhooded actors slouch, their social anxiety clothing their angular visages. The images show choreographic moves which would be impossible for trained contemporary dancers: high kicks through shattering glass sheets.

There’s no doubting the power of those iconic images the press managed to conjure up during those heady hours – but quite what damage those images then managed to generate is still up for discussion.

The camera can fire up so much mischief. It inflames petroleum feelings and catalyses social itches into anaphylactic shocks. Its iconicity highlights, exaggerates and essentialises in ways that were never intended. And these days, then there’s photoshop which wreaks further havoc.

I’m reminded that you have to use the arts to play back to people other stories, other interpretations which may be messier, more inconvenient and yet which give us importent alternative insights. We need artists views to counteract the juggernaut express power of the million camera gaze. You have to show something back to audiences, somehow, because someone somewhere has to bring the media themselves to account.

For more on Reading the Riots see https://drnicko.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/reading-the-riots-its-time-to-hear-the-real-evidence/

Reading the Riots – hearing the real evidence

I’m working as a researcher for the Guardian LSE Reading the Riots project in which they’re trying to find the background and reasons for the summer disturbances from the point of view of the perpetrators, those who have been charged and locked up, or those who found themselves involved for one reason or another.

The research is completely anonymous and confidential. If you would be interested in being interviewed for the research – or know someone who would be, please get in touch.

It will give you or them a great chance to put their side of the story, but in a way that is not connected at all to the police or government.

Please email me on Nowen.aspire@btconnect.com.

The full research team can be seen here: