To be honest, I really don't like most journalists. Too many bad experiences have shaped this perception. In 20 years as a campaigner, there are only three I can think of who haven't lied to me in the course of a story and I can't stand the way they expect you to be grateful for giving up your time so you can be misquoted.
So apologies if this is a somewhat partisan and sceptical round-up of recent press coverage:
- The BBC reports more nonsense from Chief Superintendent Helen Ball of the Metropolitan Police saying: "We will be photographing people on arrival at the camp because it is important for us to know if there are people coming who want to cause violence and disorder.” You photograph people arriving, Ms Ball, because you want to build up a database of protesters. We know it and so do you. The BBC will hopefully catch up soon.
- The patronising Sean O’Neill at the Times fails to understand the importance of organisation to anarchism, in a piece that hints at the way hacks are likely to ferment division between ‘good and ‘bad’ protesters over the next few days if they don’t get a riot to report.
- Guardian hack Paul Lewis, who has made a bit of a name for himself with strong reporting on the G20 protests and the death of Ian Tomlinson, seems to have already started down this particular line on his Twitter feed, saying that “clearly campers divided” into happy Greens, less happy Reds and agitated anarchists who are “causing trouble”. This is because of the decision – a foolish one, I think – to allow Julia Pendry, the Met’s silver commander for the Climate Camp protest, on site to have "tea" with the Climate Camp Legal Team.
First rule of meetings with the police – hold them somewhere neutral. If you invite them to your place, they become your guests, a fact that they will try and exploit. It’s no longer as easy to conduct a proper negotiation and you lose the ability to walk away when you’re done. Oh, and it may annoy other members of the family for whom a severe beating five months ago still counts as fresh in the memory.
Lewis also complains that campers are rude and cold-shouldering journalists - could it be because activists are at Climate Camp for reasons other than getting paid to be there and perhaps are busy? Honestly, hacks become like needy five year-olds when their deadlines are approaching!
- Bibi Van Der Zee, also from the Guardian is complaining too, that it “takes a lot of the fun out of a game of cat and mouse with the cops if they don't seem to be playing” – because that’s obviously the most important part of what action against climate change is all about.
- Matthew Moore in the Telegraph describes attending Climate Camp meetings and discovering that “my hopes of securing a ‘mayhem in the capital’ exclusive were going to be dashed” – but praises the way they are “conducted with a democratic brio that mainstream political parties could only envy”. A convert?
- The Daily Mail gives a surprisingly fair report on the first day with great pictures – and not one mention of the potential damage to house-prices in Blackheath. The comments by Mail readers are, however, as brainless as expected.
- Tamsin Omond, writing in the Evading Standards, still talks about herself too much.
- The Daily Express quotes LBC's right-wing radio jock Nick Ferrari saying: “Blackheath is an extremely genteel place. This has caused havoc and roads are at a standstill.”
Anything that annoys this boorish buffoon is a big, big bonus.
- The Mirror highlights the apparently high level of snogging at Climate Camp. Which is nice.
- Meanwhile, Spy Blog offers more on the hiring of consultants by the Metropolitan Police to monitor social networks for Climate Camp information.