Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Questions Media Didn't Ask at #OccupyBoston

Sometimes it's not just about what the media asks -- what they cover -- but what they don't cover and don't ask. Most of the issues over the coverage we saw, of what little coverage there was, would fit into this category.

News organizations like WCVB have covered the fact that the police asked protesters to leave, but didn't ask why they wanted to stay. That seems kind of important, doesn't it?

Several media outlets, like the Boston Herald, covered the fact that Boston's police commissioner blamed the raid on "anarchists" who had 'taken over' over the past 24 hours, but didn't bother to see just who those 'anarchists' were. If they followed up, they would have found a lot of veterans for piece, college students from neighboring campuses and the working poor, but I'm not so sure about "anarchists."

Plenty of news sources, like NECN, covered the fact that Mayor Menino despises civil disobedience and won't tolerate it in Boston, but could no news organization think to ask him how he can reconcile that with the fact that Boston practically invented civil disobedience in this country, in the form of hordes of Bostonians throwing tons of tea into the harbor.

There was the media coverage of the shrubs -- oh, dear, the shrubs! -- including ABC News, except no one bothered to ask Occupy Boston about it. If they did, they'd know Occupy Boston had approval from the Rose Kennedy group to be there, so long as they'd help care for the shrubs.

If the media asked, they would have learned how Occupy Boston already took care of shrubs and flowers at the Dewey Square camp and had a recycling program that would be the envy of many municipalities across the state.

Almost no main stream media organizations made note of the Veterans for Peace who were attacked, even while they trended worldwide on twitter. Wouldn't it have made sense to ask why it was necessary for the Boston Police to come down hard on people who've served this country with honor and distinction?

What about the medics and legal observers who were arrested? Or the medical supplies and other resources that were immediately thrown away -- things that could have provided evidence of police brutality, like cell phones and computers that may have been in the camp? Were these not worthy questions to ask about?

Among the questions that the media didn't ask was if the Patrick Administration approved the State Police being used as tools to bash protesters, or why Mayor Menino didn't have the police use non-violent means of breaking up the crowd -- without having to make mass arrests -- like using tear gas. There were plenty of questions asked of the Boston Police, but very little coverage of the protesters.

The entire Dewey Square camp was free and clear, with hundreds of people right there who would have been willing to answer questions. These are people who just want to have their voices heard -- that's why they're there in the first place. Would it have been so hard to hear their stories? To hear why they're there? To hear why they're willing to put themselves at risk for a greater cause? Those are worthy questions the rest of America deserves to have answered and covered.

Mostly, though, I'd like to know why most of the media didn't seem to think this was a big story. Well over a hundred people, in a city the fraction the size of New York, stood up for their rights in front of police brutality and courageously didn't back down, even when it meant arrest -- while the world went nuts over it on Twitter -- and it received barely a peep on the Mainstream Media. That's the biggest travesty of all.

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