News you might have missed

by Prashant Rao

Note: This blog post was originally published by AFP on April 1, 2009. It can be found here.

A good portion of the news that we, and other news organisations, cover are events that, to some degree, can be planned for — press conferences, briefings, speeches, and the like. The G20 summit here in London would be an extreme example of this, and here in Britain, it has dominated television news bulletins, Internet coverage, and will likely adorn tomorrow’s newspaper front pages.

With that in mind, press officers and PR firms are often only too happy to send out “bad” news that would otherwise have merited stories but reporters do not have the time to cover. That way, by the time the G20 storm has blown over, the stories that would have merited coverage have lost their timeliness in the daily news cycle.

One British broadcaster has gone to the extent of compiling a list of stories that will have to be “buried” because of the G20 summit. The stories listed range from a rise in the price of fuel to the closure of dozens of local councils in a local government reform and the introduction of new motoring fines.

It’s not just bad news that gets buried, either.

Earlier today, I went to an anti-war march through west London that attracted at least a thousand demonstrators, but was over-shadowed by more populated, and more unruly, protests in the financial district that left one bank branch with broken windows and allegations of violence from both police and demonstrators.

“It happens with every demonstration — the 100,000 who march in silent protest are overlooked and pushed off the headlines by the 25 who throw bricks,” Martin Linton, a Labour MP who addressed the anti-war activists, told me. “That’s always been true,” he said, adding quickly: “That shouldn’t detract from the issues because … the vast majority are peaceful.”

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