Social conflict and the media

Contesting definitional power

Authored by: Jonathan Cable

The Routledge Companion to British Media History

Print publication date:  September  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415537186
eBook ISBN: 9781315756202
Adobe ISBN: 9781317629474


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The technological advances that have occurred in the last 50 years have dramatically changed how moments of social conflict become defined. This is nowhere more evident than in the coverage of the English riots in the summer of 2011. It was not just about 24-hour rolling news bringing the fire into people’s living rooms. The internet played a massive part in shaping the coverage. Social media and mobile phone technology in particular (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Blackberry Messenger) were partly blamed for the organization of the rioting but it was also a significant aspect of journalists’ armory for reporting the riots as well as acting as a source for public information (LSE/Guardian, 2011: 30–33; see also Allen, 2013: 120–51). This stands in direct contrast to the world of the early 60s with its two television channels and a small number of radio stations.

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