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Journalists Cover London Shooting Victim Charles de Menezes’ Family, But Not the Police

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Talking with the friends and family of Charles de Menezes is a record of compelling history and so it is being recorded.

The 23-year-old Brazilian shot by British police last week in an Underground subway car sent money to his family, television pictures of whom show an old destitute couple living, not in squalor, but, let’s just say, in a way that gives a much more realistic view of The Simple Life.

And since de Menezes appears to be a completely innocent man in all of this, a profile of him seems as appropriate as any soldier who has also died in this perpetual-motion machine known as the war on terrorism.

What I have not seen – though I haven’t dug deep into the BBC – is the policemen’s side of all this.

But rather than jump to a sinister conclusion of bias (against the police, I suppose), I look to the far more practical possibility. It’s quite likely – and almost a guarantee – that the policemen are not talking because they have been told not to do so.

Therefore, it’s a sad state of affairs that stymies good journalism, and good journalists’ attempts to offer the views of both sides. The first to be blamed here when this “unbalanced” journalism comes up are the journalists who don’t get the complete story. But I think most people who’ve tried to call the customer service line of a big company or tried to get through to someone with real authority, have come face to face with The Stonewall.

When someone doesn’t want to talk, they don’t. Quite often, until the pressure mounts and people realize it won’t be forgotten or shooed away, talking to a newspaper reporter is less of possibility than the idea of Citizen Q getting the info. Why? One is credible and read by thousands at once, while the other is just one voice, who, if the public relations need arises, can be, roundly dismissed.

Now many newspapers, in light of this, have taken a larger perspective of looking at the overall balance of Topic A or Issue C, rather than requiring absolute balance in every article. Depending on the seriousness of the issue and the seriousness of any claims being voiced, a newspaper is not going to let “no comment” stand in the way of the first story. And continued “no comment” most often reflects badly on the person not speaking. The old axiom, “If you’ve got nothing to hide why are you hiding?” comes into play.

If there is no comment to a specific question, sometimes, it is indeed for a good reason. Most often that not all the facts are known. But a blanket “no comment” to any questions is counter-productive. As a result, usually the “no comment”s break down quickly and out comes the public relations effort; which I believe, in my heart, always cheapens any issue at hand.

Quite often a press release gets issued or a living press release – a spokesperson – with pat, rehearsed lines comes forward to “give their side.” Quite often that is as illuminating as the inside of box of double fudge oreos and just as useless for proving information “nutrition” from which the public can benefit.

So, the London Metropolitan policemen as individuals don’t seem to be heard, but don’t jump to conclusions.

We’ve seen how that turns out.

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About temple

Always been a writer, always maintained an interest in politics, how people communicate and fantasy worlds within photography and books. Previously wrote for Blogcritics back in 2005 and interested in exploring the issues and topics I'm interested - the changing landscape of entertainment. all from the POV of a creator first, consumer, second.
  • Eric Olsen

    good, balanced post – even the balance is balanced!

  • Nick

    Your point being ? An innocent man has been killed. Justice must be done.

  • Eric Olsen

    the police kill innocent men innocently fairly often – if it was a mistake under extreme conditions, then there is no justice: it’s just the way it is

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Nick – that is a separate point and one I was not addressing, at least not directly. The post was about the coverage.

  • Eric Olsen

    Justice for the coverage!

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    The police were doing their job. A mistake was made. A tragic, horrific mistake. An innocent life was ended.

    But that does NOT make the police the “bad guys” here. Sometimes, bad things happen, and there is no “bad guy” to blame for it.

    In war, “friendly fire” incidents occur all the time. It happens. War is hell.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    People really have a problem with staying on topic and as a result every thread ends up sounding the same.

    Also, less cliches please :-)

  • Carrie Singer

    Stark,

    I talk to Citizen Q nearly on a daily basis, as do very many, although not as frequently. His observations and experiences may be easily dismissed by you, but not by those who know him.

    You may dismiss what he communicates, but that does not make what he says less valid. Remember Galileo?

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    In context Carrie your comment doesn’t seem to make sense.

    I’ll take the blame on that. Can you restate what you’re trying to say?

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Wait, I just got my e-mail.

    Citizen Q was mentioned as a generic thing. A John Doe, John Smith Joe Bloggs, etc. Sorry for any weird and freaky misunderstanding here. Entirely a coincidence.

  • Carrie Singer

    In context? You mean it makes more sense out of context? Eh?

    After the e-mail, suddenly you remembered what you meant? eo

    Generic? Just exactly how many Citizen Qs do you know? As a physician, I know lots of John Does, and they’re either unconscious or dead, but all male. That’s the generic part, otherwise they are definitely individual human beings.

    Q, as you said, is one voice who can be roundly dismissed when he gets info. ?by reporters? ?by the inquisition? That’s who roundly dismissed Galileo’s one voice.

    I think you know what you meant. Q knows what you meant. I know what you meant. Your explanation doesn’t pass the laugh test. Generic? After an e-mail? hahaha That’s good.

  • Reeve

    Interesting article. I agree, if the “one voice” doesn’t suit the mass media, it’s often dismissed. Media outlets regurgitate the often one-sided and incorrect reports of others. “Reporters” are lazy!!! Most are not free-thinkers and simply report what others cough up. True investigative reporting is a thing of the past. Unfortunately the problem might not only rest with lazy “reporters” but the community which craves information regarding the unfortunate lives of others. Most members of the community believe the police are model citizens, but this is far from the actual case. The viewpoint that the police are ignorant corrupt killers may not go well with the mindless masses. There needs to be a full investigation into these police. The officers who killed the child should be removed from the police department and imprisoned. Hopefully with the internet, one voice will become equally as powerful as the big mouth.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    Reeve, thanks for reading but you missed the main point i believe – that of the police not being willing to give their side – and came with one pre-programmed point of your own.

  • Mihos

    In the USA I have a sinking feeling that the news media would have created and perpetuated an unsubstantiated rumor that the Brazilian was indeed a terrorist with all sorts of ties to the underworld wherever that is ( in America the underworld is where USSR commies and people with permanent tans are super pwers on equal footing with team america).

    We may learn more about the individual that explains the coincidence of his accidental death. Did he witness something he shouldnt have?
    The question I have is who trained these policemen? Where were they trained and why is the media not interested in learning about the new breed of super military industrialist security enforcer
    spawning in the streets of the world today. These men are well armed and answer to no one since the entitled with guns belong to a higher force with moral
    highground. This is a war against unnecessary violence. HUH?

  • Maezeppa

    I see two problems in this incident and of the two, the tactical misjudgment of the police at the time of the shooting is the least serious because it is the easiest to improve through better training and surveillance.

    More serious is the way this policy is going to reshape civil society. People are being taught to tolerate and even approve of roving bands of governmental assassins in their midst making “preemptive strikes” against suspicious people.

    Just so you know, after a couple days of closely sorting through the reports I have learned the following things:

    His specific house was not being watched;
    He was not wearing a heavy overcoat;
    He was wearing a jacket on a day others were wearing jackets;
    He didn’t have a rucksack;
    He was not an illegal alien;
    He spoke and understood English;
    He was gainfully employed;
    The police let him get on a public bus so
    …the police must have decided to shoot him in the head at the train station after, in their words, “he broke into a run”.
    But the police did not identify themselves or order him to stop.
    … they simply chased him down and put seven bullets in his head and one in his shoulder.

    Broke into a run. I wonder if he was just trying to make his train. Either that or he saw someone with a gun nearby or heard the bolt action and ran for his life.

  • Anonymous

    Citizen Q is an anonymous citizen.