“The Love Activists are well known on Merseyside after occupying the old Bank of England building on Castle Street in April and May 2015. That occupation, which the Love Activists said was in protest over a perceived lack of support for the homeless and government austerity, was said to have cost the taxpayer £120,000 to police and resulted in an estimated £25,000 of damage to the Grade-I listed building, which is still empty, as well as legal costs for the owners.”
A recent article in The Liverpool Echo has served as a reminder of possible media bias against the young. A few days ago, a group of Love Activists occupied a former bank in Hamilton Square in Birkenhead. The young people were protesting against homelessness and environmental degradation. A proper interview could have illustrated the idealism and courtesy of those involved.
However, a journalist chose to refer back to an earlier protest which took place on the other side of the River Mersey two years ago. The journalist alleged that the Love Activists are “well known.” No evidence was provided to support that specific contention. Further, the journalist omitted to refer to statistics about actual homelessness. According to official figures, the problem has worsened for the last six years. Since 2010, homelessness within England has increased by over 50 per cent. While the journalist mentioned controversial numbers about a perceived protest cost to “the taxpayer”, they failed to provide data about the social context which prompted both occupations.
A lack of balance has caused many citizens to become sceptical about the standards of the national media. A journalist for The Sun has recently got into trouble for perceived racism against a footballer. The Guardian has been much criticised for a seeming absence of fairness towards the leader of the Labour Party. While it may be inaccurate to talk up ‘fake news’, it could be really complacent to believe what we read uncritically. The apparently hostile attitude of The Liverpool Echo towards socially concerned youth is arguably evidence that local media can be as lacking in compassion as the contributors to national newspapers.