Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Evening Post Demonises the Homeless

"All writers are propagandists" - Derrick Jensen

Writing newspaper articles is a lot harder than most people think. Complex issues and large amounts of information often have to be squeezed into a small word count whilst retaining reader interest and a certain level of narrative punch. Apart from making the lives of journalists difficult, one effect this has is that one must carefully choose which bits of the story get left in, and which get left out. When only a handful of facts about an event can be conveyed to a reader, each takes on an apparent importance, whilst those left out lose theirs.

For example, if I were to tell you that a heroin addict had beaten someone up, most people would assume that the drugs were a cause of the attack. Why else would I mention it? Likewise, after 9/11, lots of papers ran stories along the lines of "Muslim Leader Orders Attack on World Trade Centre", and none, as far as I'm aware, went with "Multi-Millionaire Orders Attack on World Trade Centre". Thus, the media presented an image of Islam as being pro-terror, and avoided any discussion of whether multi-millionaires tend to be pro-terror.

Recently, the Evening post has covered the murder of Karol Krawczyk (here, for example). Throughout these articles, they miss no opportunity to use the word "squat", or variations thereon. By doing so, they link squatting in the reader's mind with murder. When people who rent or own homes die, or kill people, this is never seen as worth mentioning.

These articles are by no means unique in their negative portrayal of squatters. The SQUASH housing campaign has tracked a recent rise in media demonisation of the homeless and squatters, and believes this to be a prelude to legislative attacks on these communities by the Tory coalition.

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