Monday, 3 May 2010

Vigilante press – The Bulletin gets its posse & Mooney gets a whipping-boy

The Bulletin will not give up easily. They are determined to elevate the city’s young people to the position as our number 1 problem (and best newspaper seller)

They started their latest effort to create the news (as opposed to reporting it) two Fridays ago with a page headed “Gang Violence: the fightback” (see this post). Included there was a story manufactured from a few quotes by some lone unnamed individual who’d presumably rung into the Bully with an idea to set up a “Guardian Angels’” type community-watch group.

Of course, one man does not a vigilante group make. and the next day (Saturday 24th) three people turned up to his Victoria Bridge ‘rally’ – well actually one if you don’t include the ‘organiser’ and his missus

Undeterred by the small turn-out (despite the Bully’s free publicity), the Bully reported the following Wednesday (28th) that “Residents band together to fight Townsville crime” and publicised another meeting by the ‘group’ for yesterday (Sun 2nd May).

To generate a bit more heat and momentum for that meeting, the Bully then ran a story on Saturday: “Trouble at Willows, parents blamed” with the introduction “Willows Shopping Centre resembled a war zone on Thursday night”. Apart from the bad business sense in getting most military personnel off-side with the belittling use of the term “war zone”, this was a fair attempt to whip-up a bit of community outrage – reports (of reports) of 300 kids at the Willows that night (no wonder the Willows marketing managerseemed pretty unconcerned by it all), a witness to 5 kids screaming at each other… they even ran a video online of the “mayhem” that night.

I’d encourage you to have a look at the video here – no gangs, no fights, no ‘mayhem’, no ‘war zone’ just what looked like a few groups of kids with not much to do and little money to do it with.

Which brings us today’s report of the community meeting held yesterday and apparently attended by 30 people – although it’s not actually clear whether this number includes the politicians, coppers and hangers-on who were there (a count of the number of households present would have been much more enlightening, if somewhat less impressive).

Judging from the Bully’s report, three things came from the meeting:
  • Tony Mooney returns to type and tells us that the parents of all bad kids are on welfare (and presumably black)

  • The Bully got its vigilante group sorry, “resident-led patrols”, which it will no doubt now send a cub reporter out with one night with to do an expose on the city’s underbelly

  • The coppers actually already run a community-based law and order program – it’s called Community Watch! It’s well established, been around for decades, and in most suburbs where groups form they then fold up after a year or two when the residents involved come to understand that crime in their area isn’t actually anything like as bad as they perceived it to be.
I wonder if the Bully, Mooney, Wallace, the coppers or anyone else (like a Bulletin journalist) at the meeting thought to check with a few local kids about what to do? My guess is that they would have said – “give us something to do”.

By the way, Mooney’s proposed withholding of welfare from ‘bad parents’ will not get up:

  • the policy is in fact for the quarantining of part of a person’s welfare so that it can only be spent on certain goods, and

  • it’s unworkable in terms of kids on the streets at night who are not under-age and not breaking the law.
A bit of a worry when the aspiring federal member doesn’t understand federal policy or program limitations!!

But then I’m sure that won’t stop the Bully from milking the ‘story’ for all it's worth.

Determined to maximise the unruly kids and their bad parent angle, the Bully’s online ‘coverage’ (I use the term loosely) today is actually headed by a story about the Police’s “disgust” at the behaviours of kids at Grooving the Moo.

Despite lots of reporting of the impressions of one copper, the only fact in the story was that “by 3pm, five people had already been taken to hospital by ambulance due to severe intoxication”.

Sounds like the real story was about the management of entry to and alcohol serving at the event - but it is unlikely that it will get written, given that the event organisers had probably spent 10-15,000 on advertising in the Bully in recent weeks.

From the kids and parents i've spoken to this morning, it was a great event, well managed, fantatsic music and a happy crowd.

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