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Jason Reed

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Occupy Wall Street = Mainstream Fail

Posted: 03/10/11 23:49

Occupy Wall Street is heading for its third week of protests. The movement was hesitant in its first steps, but it's now picking up momentum and spreading across the U.S. From its birth in New York, the 'Occupy' premise now has a foothold; the U.K is planning Occupy London Stock Exchange.

The movement has been born out of pure frustration and the attrition of an unjust financial system; an arguably feral system of fiscal authority. Those who endorse the 'Occupy' ethos seek change - and fairness - in a financial crisis that was created through neoliberal economics.

There are, however, aspects that are simply not being addressed, and this is further symbiotic of the modern world. The conventional media has only just caught up with the Occupy movement, but it's taken far too long. Why has it taken three weeks for the mainstream media to address such a significant movement, especially when so many spectators were/are following the story? Are the mainstream not supposed to break news? Why are so many people still left in the dark? Are the mainstream deciding what actually constitutes as news as opposed to reporting on it? For example, the Icelandic revolution has received no attention from the mainstream, and when it has become such a poignant happening, why do so few know of Iceland's momentum?

Speaking on the UK, mainstream sources only began to report on the Occupy Wall Street protests when the news broke that 700 arrests had been made owing to an "unauthorised protest". The Occupy movement has, by enlarge, been conducted in peace, and is arguably exemplary in its conduct. Maybe this in itself is a worrying trend, that peaceful demonstrations don't receive attention until violence or misconduct intervenes. Only when something juicy is afoot do the mainstream turn a speculative eye. If society is serious about abating the riots that have been incessant in 2011, then a voice has to be given back to those with something to say before engorged emotion spills.

Mainstream media is failing the very people that it's supposed to keep informed, and it doesn't just stop at Occupy. It's becoming increasingly apparent that those who subscribe solely to mainstream media have a fatally narrow view on the world. The myopic reporting has long become the stuff of urban legend, but in the digital age, the once joke of mainstream media has lost its punchline. No longer reliant on the big money making news companies to inform of their stance on world affairs, the internet and alternative sources often provide a platform for the words that dare not cross the lines of corporate mainstream.

The RT news network - specifically the Alyona Show - will surely receive a fair share of negative connotations from the right; but left/right arguments should be negated for just a moment. The Alyona Show presents a section on what the mainstream miss with some truly astounding stories of media negligence.

Anyone who accumulates a broad range of news feeds will also attest to the lack of brevity between the mainstream and the actuality of issues. The Alyona Show has covered the Occupy movement since its inception, and once more, it says a lot when you have to turn to foreign broadcast channels such as RT and Al Jazeera to get a fuller picture. The Huffington Post also provides a welcome stage to the voices and opinions that would perhaps be overwhelmed by big business media.

It can certainly be agreed that we are in a global crisis, but to place full onus on an economic crisis is fairly crass; we are facing turbulent times far beyond finance. The West has lived under a benign democracy for many years, and society is now feeling the strain from the severely disenfranchised. Sure, the UK and U.S certainly enjoy many freedoms and basic human rights that are not granted to other countries, but that's not to rest on laurels. Freedoms are not concessions, they should be a given and not treated as a state privilege; a fundamental necessity. There's a politicians' rhetoric that exclaims "be grateful you have the freedoms of speech and expression" and indeed, this is right, but it's also correct to evoke other traits. The democratic right to protest peacefully and speak your mind is the case in point, but it is being threatened at every turn. The summer UK riots saw the British government jeopardise freedoms with the erosion of the civil liberties surrounding social media. The riots were deplorable, but this is not an excuse to restrict any media, let alone a source that belongs society.

The differences between the UK riots and Occupy Wall Street are leagues apart. There has been little to no violence in New York from protestors, but as previously stated, it took the arrest of 700 people on the Brooklyn Bridge in an "unauthorised protest" to receive any attention. What actually is an unauthorised protest? Is this not an oxymoron to the highest degree? The UK also faces parallel concessions on civil liberties: Parliament Square was considered a no go area for protests; the UK comedian/activist Mark Thomas documented this dark hour of British history in his show Seriously Organised Criminal. To be told when and where it's ok to evoke a democratic right of free speech and protest is contradictory to say the least.

So, as the Occupy movement spreads, and the UK's version of Occupy London Stock Exchange is set to run from the 15th October to the 12th December, it will be an interesting time indeed. Both the media and protestors should be watched and evaluated to see how they conduct themselves. Politicians desperately need to listen and put down the dusty rhetoric.

 

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