When Buddhists praying in the midst of financial district protests becomes news, we’re all in trouble. While the mainstream media focused on giftgate and other gaffes (FLOTUS — aka Michelle Obama as the First Lady of the United States — broke with protocol and shook Her Majesty’s hand without waiting for her to extend it (GAAASSSPPP!), Metropolitan Police cancelled all leave for two days and normally starched bankers rode the Underground in jeans and shirt vs. trademark pinstripes and pink ties for fear of being targeted by anti-global trade anarchists. And the Summit had not yet even begun!
Aside from motorcade envy (Obama arrived at Excel Center in the Docklands via helicopter then the Beast and Secret Service SUV motorcade whilst Czech Republic PM Mirek Topolánek has two cars and three photographer vans), the press flap jaws, show motorcades arriving and there is not much other news. Timed like a Swiss watch, the heads of state arrive every 90 seconds, shake hands withPrime Minister Gordon Brown, and move on to the Summit breakfast.
Sky News (owned by Rupert Murdoch so you get all the drama of Fox but with a British accent) reported yesterday the end of the world as we know it as a young idiot banged through the window of a Royal Bank of Scotland branch surrounded not by fellow protestors, but paparazzi each trying to outdo the other for the best shot!
In Seattle it was Starbucks. In London, it’s the signature bailout banks located, appropriately, just outside the ‘Bank’ Underground station that got most of the wrath. Welcome my friends to the show that never ends, the G-20 protests, this year organised and brought to you by Twitter, the anarchist network!
So uneventful were the protests that even Sky tired of running the same looped tape of the same idiot breaking the same window with the same 2×4. It was reminiscent of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake where the same house that tipped over its foundation and hit a gas line burned. It was then filmed from about 3,000 different angles to somehow show the entire city ablaze.
It is days like this that make me embarrassed to call myself a journalist. The protest was blogged, Tweetcasted, and cell phone camera’d around the world and THERE WAS NO STORY! This morning, even the venerable BBC showed a young protestor being arrested for trying to climb the obelisk outside the London Stock Exchange and he was the only one there in a place where cameras outnumbered protestors. Yesterday the protestors advanced, police pushed back, bottles flew, an RBS branch office was trashed.
No longer is film at 11:00 enough to edit a two-minute story; we’re getting film 24/7! Yawn. The real news of various back-to-back diplomatic meetings was reduced to ‘grab and grin’ photo-ops on the steps of Number 10, diplomatic residences, or Buckingham Palace. Nothing was shared about their meetings other than an obligatory photo spray and draft end of Summit statements are already circulating. We’re in full rumour mode all day as motorcades criss-cross London as officials meet in just about every square inch of meeting space in the City and Westminster.
Probably the biggest news thus far, was the Welsh lamb on the menu last night and security so tight celebrity chef Jamie Oliver was banned from bringing his ubiquitous cell phone into the building and his wife is pregnant and due today!
And away we go!
Denis Campbell is a US journalist based in the United Kingdom. He contributes to newspapers and magazines, is a BBC Radio election commentator and publishes the daily e-magazine The Vadimus Post from the Latin Quo Vadimus – where are we headed and do we know why?