Thursday, July 07, 2005

Londoners recount horrors: Tell us your story pt1

I wasn’t going to blog anything about what happened, what is still happening, in London today. Police cars are still screaching up and down the road outside. It seemed tasteless to express the kind of thoughts that have been going through my head whilst people are still being operated on, still bleeding.

But that hasn’t held our Prime Minister back and my own blood is boiling.


Unlike 911, most of the horror took place underground, out of sight. Except for that bus.

Americans have the imagery of the burning twin towers incised into their memories and it looks like we're going to have to make do with a bus. That busted, mangled, normal old bus.

Part of the shock of today comes from the fact that those bombs went off in very normal, very mundane, very familiar places.

Another difference between today and 911 is the lack of surprise. Shock? Yes. Horror? Certainly. Surprise? Not really. The City was expecting it.

Sadly, most of us know the 911 script by heart and people appeared to have followed it diligently. I did what everyone else did. I made sure everyone I knew was safe. Answered a few calls/ emails asking about my own well being, then turned on the television. I didn’t fancy going outside and checking things out for myself.

Good old, dependable, fatuous television.

The coverage followed the normal pattern. First we got a series confused, contradictory and downright misleading reports of what had happened. Then a series of experts, roped in off the street, treated us all to a few hours of bullshit and speculation. Much of the speculation was coming from 'security consultants' who, as breed, are doing very nicely out of all of this. And then, once the story had firmed-up a little, the bullshit and surmise was supplemented by survivor interviews and presenters posing stupid, pointless questions as if they were a matter of pressing public interest…

‘… and we can confirm that the IOC has announced that today’s incident will not effect the status of the 2012 Olympics…’

‘… so, is it too early to say how the response of the emergency services could have been improved?’

‘… Naturally, the question at the top of people’s minds is ‘Was this the work of suicide bombers?’’

and, of course, the one question on every presenter's lips…

‘Can you confirm how many people were killed today?’

‘No I can’t. Some of the bombs went off in tunnels’

‘But surely you can give us some idea?’

‘No. Not at the present time’

‘A sense of the scale though. Is it scores? Hundreds?’


‘Ooooowwwww, Go on…’

They’re still at it whilst I’m sitting here typing. Ahead of us lies a long night of media body counting and competition to find the grisliest anecdotes.

In words of Yahoo News …

‘Londoners recount horrors: Tell us your story’

But grisly sensationalism is not my real issue with how today’s horror is being presented, and will continue to be presented. That’s not what’s really bothering me. What’s really bothering me, scaring me, is the way the propaganda has already begun.

But later, Tracy had a pretty rough day today and I shouldn't be sitting here ...


J. Star said...

I agree with you that sensationalizing the story of what's happened cheapens it, makes it different from what it really is. I wish I'd thought to put a tape in my VCR on 9/11 to record the confusion immediately after it happened; I've often wished I could go back and watch the news from that day as it came out, in the pattern you described. I don't know why--not for the shock and horror again, just for the way I'd now be able to analyze the way our news comes to us.

Anyway, I offer my sympathy.


Foucault's buddy said...

News presentation and management. This was bloody carnage. So was this (BBC); Reuters here.

Stef said...

@J. Star: Agree with the line of your thinking and thx

@fb: I think you might be thinking at least some of the things that I'm thinking ...