Watching the UK riots in recent weeks occupied a lot of my time. I was eagerly looking for locations and landmarks I visited, lived near or still had friends in, under fire from rioters. After living in the UK for almost four years I was concerned for a place I once called home.
The media saturation was thick despite being on the other side of the world. This was our ‘mother country’ under fire from people who were angry and opportunistic. Yet of course this is an assumption. I no longer live there so I can’t make a clear assessment of why shops were looted, property damaged or those protecting their livelihood attacked.
Dipping in to the ABC’s The Drum over that time I found it interesting that every time the panel were asked to ‘make sense’ of it there was not one person from the UK. Nor was there someone who had been to the country in recent times. For me this was a sign the media were making it up as it went along.
When the evening news bulletin declared Leeds had fallen victim to rioting I was really concerned. I lived in that city for a number of years and was keen to find out more.
Jumping on Twitter I found even those living in the city did not know what was really going on. Many people in Leeds were tweeting each other trying to find out if the city was closed and whether they could actually go to work or not.
It did not take much time to find out that nothing much was going on in Leeds, that was on Tuesday. However by Friday of that same week they were spawned in to action. Not only was there a night of rioting but a shooting as well.
As a journalist I would never claim that Twitter is a fully credible source of information, however it is a first hand account of events such as this. It is also a great tool to watch how someone can set an agenda, and sheep will follow.