Wednesday, April 1, 2009

CNBC Highlights London Public Protests

It sure isn't civic media - it's not giving the public anything like a direct and informed voice in defining and solving the world's financial woes - but CNBC videos are giving the public a powerful voice of sorts as the G20 summit prepares to open in London. We'll be seeing these videos all day long. We haven't seen videos like this since the 1999 WTO Protests in Seattle. These protests has a positive outcome: they helped empower underdeveloped nations worldwide to find alternatives to the counterproductive programs of the International Monetary Fund. On the other hand, these videos can backfire. Recall network TV coverage of the 1968 Democratic National Convention riots in Chicago and the resulting voter backlash against the "hippy" student protesters. This backlash plucked the presidency from the grasp of Hubert Humphrey and handed it to Richard Nixon. Recall also the riots in 110 American cities following the assassination of Rev. King.

Are street protests the best or only way for Americans to let off steam or outrage? Why aren't American media doing a better job of helping the American people think as a nation? That's what a true civic media can do.


Bob Kowatch said...

If we were really civic minded we would hunt down all the bankers and Wall Street types that got us into this mess.

Andrew W said...

I'd say the big challenge with protests today is the visual luggage from the past. Every world leader at the G20, rightly or wrongly, equates the sight of protests with disorder and the potential for violence. And that goes double for less involved citizens who might agree with protesters' arguments but be turned off by their methods.

If that's really the case, then protesters need to reconsider the medium of their message. Civic media offers lots of possibilities--consider all the creative uses of tools developed by the folks I work with--and it's just a matter of figuring out how to use those tools for effective protest.