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Police, Press and Politics: Institutional responses to riots in Bradford 2001 and Manchester 2011

Massey, Joanne (2019) Police, Press and Politics: Institutional responses to riots in Bradford 2001 and Manchester 2011. Internet Journal of Criminology. ISSN 2045-6743

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Abstract

This article considers the immediate responses of mainstream national and local newspapers to incidents of large-scale urban unrest in English cities, specifically news media representations of the 2001 Bradford riot and 2011 Manchester riot. With a decade between these two events, an examination of media discourses reveals little alteration in reports of riots. This is despite significant political and technological change in the UK. In 2001, the scapegoats were young Asian males and in 2011 ‘feral’ youth. One commonality is the ‘mindlessness’ of events, with the media presenting little justification for the actions of the rioters. Why is urban disorder presented as mindless and criminal by the media? Hegemonic values offer an explanation for this process. Comparative analysis reveals that whilst the two sets of offenders were treated differently by the criminal justice system, with punishment being harsher for those involved in the 2001 riot, little has changed in media narratives, indicating that who is in political power has little impact on media reports.

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