Last week I was asked to write something on the Million Masked March. I misread this as ‘Million Man March’ and assumed it was to do with the protests going on Egypt – I hadn’t heard of a ‘Million Masked March’. When I realised my mistake I was surprised I’d been able to make it, after all this was a global protest – spearheaded by the Anonymous movement – that had taken place in 400 cities, held in front of both the White House and Parliament, and resulted in fireworks being sent over the walls of Buckingham Palace.

I had seen a small amount of footage on Newsnight consisting of a fairly thin and unexcited crowd in Guy Fawkes masks in Parliament Square. The impression I have when trying to recall the footage is that the clip ended with a soft focus on a crumpled beer can. The irresistible impression was that the whole thing was unavoidably cringeworthy, slovenly and only appealed to immature losers. No wonder the phrase Million Masked March hadn’t stayed with me.

Of course when I began looking into it I saw there was actually a whole lot more going on. I was curious as to quite how much coverage the BBC had given the protest. On the BBC website I was able to find a grand total of 218 words on the subject. Just to give an idea of how little that is, you have read only 238 words of this article so far.

Absent of any mention was the People’s Assembly’s ‘Bonfire of Austerity’, the central event of which was held close by on WestminsterBridge. This was despite two MPs addressing the crowds occupying WestminsterBridge and despite that similar events were held across 40 towns and cities.

But most absent of all was any inquiry with the crowds as to why they were there. At Thatcher’s funeral, the Olympics, any royal event, the BBC were desperate to quiz attendees as to ‘why they’d come today’ despite the fact that in most cases it was pretty obvious. But I am unable to recall seeing or find anything in writing interviewing the protestors that were out on the 5th.

Of course I can see that the protest was covered well and in detail by many other newspapers and broadcasters, but the problem is that by using Britain’s main news source I was able to remain almost entirely unaware of a significant demonstration. I say ‘significant’ for the following, and I expect obvious, reasons:

  • That it was spearheaded by an international organisation accused of criminality.
  • That it took place across capitals and cites of many nations.
  • That in the UK it saw the energy debate take to the streets, with a mass burning of energy bills.
  • That it saw the debate on surveillance taken to the streets.
  • That it saw Guy Fawkes Night undoubtedly being celebrated in reverse, in a large and organised manner.

The BBC is part of the establishment, but manages to largely hold the publics trust – even in spite of recent events. The establishment as a whole are held under wide suspicion of not being on the side of the population at large. For me, any trust I might hold in the BBC is significantly brought into question when they appear to largely ignore the voices of those speaking out against the establishment unless first having watered it down into a Q&A format, or by treating disenfranchisement as an interesting phenomenon to be discussed and considered academically and nothing more.

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