Choose a different region if you want to see the content for your location and shop online. We recommend:

Your cart

Oh no, your cart is empty

June 12,2020

by Madeline Reid

A Seat At Every Table

As the UK press ignores and suppresses news of the Black Lives Matter protests, young activists create their own avenues of reporting injustice. 

It’s been two weeks since the tragic and needless murders of black civilians George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Tony McDade at the hands of white police officers. In this time, protests have taken place in every US state along with 18 countries around the world, including here in the UK. In one day alone, it is estimated that 155,000 people took part in nearly 200 peaceful gatherings across the country supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

Among the chaos of this tragedy, the pain of loss and the anger at those responsible, I could feel the seeds of excitement begin to grow as the movement garnered momentum. Protesters pulled down statues of slave traders, stood in solidarity against riot police and called for a systemic overhaul. After one week of US protests, the officers responsible for George Floyd’s murder were fired and charged, a judge ruled probable cause to try three police officers responsible for Ahmaud Arbery’s death, a law regulating ‘no knock warrants’ was passed in Breonna Taylor’s name, and the city of Minneapolis pledged to dismantle its police department, promising to create a new system of public safety. 

This was it – you could feel it in the air. These protests were no longer an ignited spark of activism, but rather a raging forest fire demolishing racism within the police system in every way possible. 

Photography by Etienne Godiard

The UK was quick to join its American counterparts on the streets, not only in solidarity but equally demanding accountability and change from the British police force. Thousands took to Parliament Square day after day and chanted Floyd’s chilling final words, “I can’t breathe”. These were not only the final words of Floyd, or US civilian Eric Garner in 2014, but also of Jimmy Mubenga who died while being restrained by three immigration officers (all of whom have since been acquitted of all crimes) in 2010. Rashan Charles, Edson Da Costa, Sarah Reed and Sheku Bayoh’s names were also chanted, as protesters pleaded for further investigation into their deaths that had been deemed unlawful but were without any officer held accountably. 

So when the UK arose the following morning to find that the front of Britain’s newspapers were plastered not with powerful images of these history-in-the-making protests, but instead the familiar portrait of missing child Madeleine McCann, I could feel my excitement turn to outrage.

Madeleine Mccann Headlines

While Madeleine’s disappearance in 2007 is indisputably a tragedy, not to mention a compelling mystery, it is also a reflection of British media culture at its most dangerous. The Mccann family were the perfect victims – her parents Kate and Gerry Mccann were white, middle class and both doctors. Journalist Gwen Ifill coined the phenomenon “missing white woman syndrome”, referring to the media’s obsession with covering cases of missing and endangered white women. Since 2007, more than £11 million has been spent on the investigation by the Metropolitan Police. 

The morning following the largest gathering of civil rights activists in UK history, the news broke that 13 years on, a new suspect was being investigated by the German police in Madeleine’s disappearance. Maybe, just maybe, this could all be chalked up to coincidental timing, or poor front page layout, but the damage was done instantaneously.

Within hours, thousands of outraged Tweets, posts and comments appeared across social media calling out the coverage as deliberate silencing of the Black Lives Matter movement. The news coverage also served as further criticism of Metropolitan police for many, who argued that the millions of pounds spent on the investigation would not have been equal if Madeleine and her family were not white.

“Thousands took to the streets in London [last week] protesting racism and demanding racial equality, yet the British media saw the most important story of the day as an update on a still-missing presumed-dead case from 13 years ago,” writes 18-year-old youth activist Leena. “It just shows you how deep-rooted the issue of systemic racism is in the UK.” 

Leena is one of the hundreds of young people who are boycotting the mainstream media cycle and creating new means of informing the public. Due to its near-real-time feed of information, Twitter has become one of the most popular social media platforms among protest movements around the world. It allows protesters to quickly communicate regarding their movement and safety, and connects those unable to attend with a live feed of events taking place. 

Leena says that now, Twitter is more than just for protest information – it’s the only place she and her friends can trust for any news regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. In the last week, millions of posts have been shared under the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, including lengthy threads (a series of tweets linked together) that are updated as stories evolve, sharing accounts from protests, stories of police brutality that users feel have been underreported and personal accounts of everyday racism.

It’s the latter, Leena says, that is her top priority. “The UK has a serious problem when it comes to white people accepting racism is still an issue here, I’ve read so many comments saying that George Floyd’s death is an ‘American problem’ and it’s not true.” Last week, she began a thread of side-by-side comparisons of UK newspaper reports on crimes by white vs BIPOC suspects, another regarding white vs BIPOC victims of crime, and another featuring white vs black celebrity ‘scandals’. The threads have been shared by thousands of users online.

She hopes that by highlighting these instances of hypocrisy, more will be wary of the media’s reporting of the protests and the movement’s progress. “I just want people to question the sources of their information and stop assuming that social media is less accurate than newspapers. It’s not just in the reporting of police injuries without reporting protester injuries, or including pictures of black protesters when talking about violence or looting and pictures of white protesters when talking about peaceful events – it’s also about what is not being reported on. Traditional media has so much control over the narrative of these protests and what happens in the future, and we want to do as much as we can online to regain control and be in charge of our own narrative.”

When looking at diversity reporting, it’s not hard to appreciate why Leena and her peers are so untrusting of traditional news avenues. In a major survey of people working in publishing in London, it was revealed that only 11% of respondents identified as BAME, a considerably lower figure than the 40% average of the capital. As of 2018 statistics, 94% of journalists working nation-wide are white, and not one of the mainstream newspapers in the UK have a BAME editor-in-chief.

I asked her if she would consider a career in journalism, and she told me she had. “People are fighting to have their voices heard on the street, in government, and in the media. We’ve got to keep on fighting until Black people have a seat at every table, or that we break every table and start fresh.”

June 12,2020

by Madeline Reid

A Seat At Every Table

As the UK press ignores and suppresses news of the Black Lives Matter protests, young activists create their own avenues of reporting injustice. 

It’s been two weeks since the tragic and needless murders of black civilians George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Tony McDade at the hands of white police officers. In this time, protests have taken place in every US state along with 18 countries around the world, including here in the UK. In one day alone, it is estimated that 155,000 people took part in nearly 200 peaceful gatherings across the country supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

Among the chaos of this tragedy, the pain of loss and the anger at those responsible, I could feel the seeds of excitement begin to grow as the movement garnered momentum. Protesters pulled down statues of slave traders, stood in solidarity against riot police and called for a systemic overhaul. After one week of US protests, the officers responsible for George Floyd’s murder were fired and charged, a judge ruled probable cause to try three police officers responsible for Ahmaud Arbery’s death, a law regulating ‘no knock warrants’ was passed in Breonna Taylor’s name, and the city of Minneapolis pledged to dismantle its police department, promising to create a new system of public safety. 

This was it – you could feel it in the air. These protests were no longer an ignited spark of activism, but rather a raging forest fire demolishing racism within the police system in every way possible. 

Photography by Etienne Godiard

The UK was quick to join its American counterparts on the streets, not only in solidarity but equally demanding accountability and change from the British police force. Thousands took to Parliament Square day after day and chanted Floyd’s chilling final words, “I can’t breathe”. These were not only the final words of Floyd, or US civilian Eric Garner in 2014, but also of Jimmy Mubenga who died while being restrained by three immigration officers (all of whom have since been acquitted of all crimes) in 2010. Rashan Charles, Edson Da Costa, Sarah Reed and Sheku Bayoh’s names were also chanted, as protesters pleaded for further investigation into their deaths that had been deemed unlawful but were without any officer held accountably. 

So when the UK arose the following morning to find that the front of Britain’s newspapers were plastered not with powerful images of these history-in-the-making protests, but instead the familiar portrait of missing child Madeleine McCann, I could feel my excitement turn to outrage.

Madeleine Mccann Headlines

While Madeleine’s disappearance in 2007 is indisputably a tragedy, not to mention a compelling mystery, it is also a reflection of British media culture at its most dangerous. The Mccann family were the perfect victims – her parents Kate and Gerry Mccann were white, middle class and both doctors. Journalist Gwen Ifill coined the phenomenon “missing white woman syndrome”, referring to the media’s obsession with covering cases of missing and endangered white women. Since 2007, more than £11 million has been spent on the investigation by the Metropolitan Police. 

The morning following the largest gathering of civil rights activists in UK history, the news broke that 13 years on, a new suspect was being investigated by the German police in Madeleine’s disappearance. Maybe, just maybe, this could all be chalked up to coincidental timing, or poor front page layout, but the damage was done instantaneously.

Within hours, thousands of outraged Tweets, posts and comments appeared across social media calling out the coverage as deliberate silencing of the Black Lives Matter movement. The news coverage also served as further criticism of Metropolitan police for many, who argued that the millions of pounds spent on the investigation would not have been equal if Madeleine and her family were not white.

“Thousands took to the streets in London [last week] protesting racism and demanding racial equality, yet the British media saw the most important story of the day as an update on a still-missing presumed-dead case from 13 years ago,” writes 18-year-old youth activist Leena. “It just shows you how deep-rooted the issue of systemic racism is in the UK.” 

Leena is one of the hundreds of young people who are boycotting the mainstream media cycle and creating new means of informing the public. Due to its near-real-time feed of information, Twitter has become one of the most popular social media platforms among protest movements around the world. It allows protesters to quickly communicate regarding their movement and safety, and connects those unable to attend with a live feed of events taking place. 

Leena says that now, Twitter is more than just for protest information – it’s the only place she and her friends can trust for any news regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. In the last week, millions of posts have been shared under the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, including lengthy threads (a series of tweets linked together) that are updated as stories evolve, sharing accounts from protests, stories of police brutality that users feel have been underreported and personal accounts of everyday racism.

It’s the latter, Leena says, that is her top priority. “The UK has a serious problem when it comes to white people accepting racism is still an issue here, I’ve read so many comments saying that George Floyd’s death is an ‘American problem’ and it’s not true.” Last week, she began a thread of side-by-side comparisons of UK newspaper reports on crimes by white vs BIPOC suspects, another regarding white vs BIPOC victims of crime, and another featuring white vs black celebrity ‘scandals’. The threads have been shared by thousands of users online.

She hopes that by highlighting these instances of hypocrisy, more will be wary of the media’s reporting of the protests and the movement’s progress. “I just want people to question the sources of their information and stop assuming that social media is less accurate than newspapers. It’s not just in the reporting of police injuries without reporting protester injuries, or including pictures of black protesters when talking about violence or looting and pictures of white protesters when talking about peaceful events – it’s also about what is not being reported on. Traditional media has so much control over the narrative of these protests and what happens in the future, and we want to do as much as we can online to regain control and be in charge of our own narrative.”

When looking at diversity reporting, it’s not hard to appreciate why Leena and her peers are so untrusting of traditional news avenues. In a major survey of people working in publishing in London, it was revealed that only 11% of respondents identified as BAME, a considerably lower figure than the 40% average of the capital. As of 2018 statistics, 94% of journalists working nation-wide are white, and not one of the mainstream newspapers in the UK have a BAME editor-in-chief.

I asked her if she would consider a career in journalism, and she told me she had. “People are fighting to have their voices heard on the street, in government, and in the media. We’ve got to keep on fighting until Black people have a seat at every table, or that we break every table and start fresh.”