Flashmob coverage comes of age…

The significance of the riots in Dublin may be less to do with politics, than with the media and the capacity of what Indymedia calls flashmob coverage to drill into detail in a way that the mainstream cannot do on their own. Blogs may have just discovered their capacity in time for the run into general election in the Republic. But expect the more progressive and forward looking end of the mainstream to have learned some lessons from this too. Indymedia in particular saw a massive surge in its readership to over 20,000 on the day. Check out their video of the start of the riot.


  • Hmmm.. “comes of age” may be a tad optimistic, Mick.. a lot of the flashmob coverage consisted of a combination of knee-jerk reaction and dubious, and often unreliable, points-of-view.

    “reaches critical mass?” may be a better way to describe it.. given the amount of first-hand accounts and differing viewpoints expressed.

    But that alone should prompt the wider media to sit up and pay more attention to their own output.

    In the meantime it might be approriate to look at the mass of coverage and try to identify the better analysis.. and the more reliable accounts of events.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    How do you decide if a newspaper or broadcaster is more reliable than an online source? Surely the mainstream media has as many interpretations of events as the internet?

  • “Surely the mainstream media has as many interpretations of events as the internet?”

    Of course, Gonzo.. and they’re not all reliable either.

    As for that decision.. I didn’t say it was an easy assessment to make in all cases.. but in some cases it is.

  • Mick Fealty

    Disagree Pete. Critical mass is coming of age. It’s impossible to get the multiplicity of view that makes informal media genuinely useful. It’s important too to distinguish between reportage and analysis. Given critical mass, the former in such circumstances is more useful than the latter.

  • Hmm.. maybe a slight difference of intrepretation of ‘coming of age’.. which, to me, implies a maturity that isn’t always evident in the reportage – a lot of which still mixes individual analysis throughout it, rather than separating the two.

    A critical mass in terms of volume of eye-witness accounts is, though, what I was referring to.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Unfortunately, Gonzo, there is no possible way to know if any form of media, ‘mainstream’ or on-line, is reliable. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the very concept of ‘reliable’ media is false. There are almost no instances where we have ‘perfect information’ and can therefore be certain that what we see is all that there is. Television comes closest, but is still highly manipulable. Ultimately, only our own personal experience can be truly trustworthy to us – in other words, if something happens to me, I believe it has happened. If not, I must take it on trust, and if I am an intelligent person I will know that this is risky. And yet so many of us allow our thoughts and actions to be guided by second (or worse) hand reports from people with agendas …

  • Mick Fealty


    I agree with your point about ‘perfect media’. My view is that the reliability springs from it’s imperfectness. The camera can lie. But can lots of people taking photographs at different times and different places fabricate the same lie?

  • Stephen Copeland


    There are a number of instances where even a large number of independent photographers could present a false picture. Consider, for example, the two possibilities below;

    (1) Where the opportunity for such photographing is controlled, either in time or place. This could be done by opening or closing a window of opportunity for the photographers. ‘Embedding’ is one way that modern manipulators try to do this, but it can even be done to individuals without them being aware of it.

    (2) The medium that publishes the pictures may have an agenda. Not all of these photographers have their own web site. What if a particular site (indymedia?) decided only to publish those it approved of, and not others? How can we know if any site, even indymedia, is ‘reliable’ in its publication of other peoples pics?

  • Mick Fealty

    Transparency is the key. And multiplicity. The fact that the sources are independent from each other too. That sheer variety provides a sense of being inside the event. Any one attempt to manipulate runs the risk of being confront by another independent viewpoint. Of course there are no guarantees. But then half the treat with reading the media in whatever form is to keep your critical faculties highly tuned.

  • Grassy Noel

    I Predict Dat’s Ryette

    I was on O’Connell Street on Saturday from 12.20pm until about 3.30. I was amazed at the lack of public awareness in the weeks leading up to the march. Those that did know the march had been planned dismissed it and said the cool, casual, laid-back citizens of ‘Celtic Tiger’ Ireland would just tut-tut, roll their eyes and snigger, continue on with their regular weekend shopfest and that nothing untoward would happen. A lot of people did do this, but those who think that 800 years of history can be erased by a few years of steady economic progress…well, okay, spectacular economic progess, are in my view clueless idiots with their heads so far up their own arses they wouldn’t even be able to tell you which direction the North is in, even if it were pointed out to them on a compass.

    I went into town on Saturday knowing that:

    a)SOMETHING historical was about to happen one way or another, whether it be the first loyalist march on O’Connell Street in living memory or whether chaos ensued on a scale unseen in Ireland in the modern era and

    b) That there would DEFINITELY be trouble of some sort, the only question in my mind was on what scale would the trouble be.

    Having done a postgraduate diploma in journalism a couple of years back and remembering the couple of classes dealing with social disorder, I loaded up my camera beforehand. A couple of times, particularly at the start of the riot, I had to run from swinging batons myself, I was so close to the action.

    Unfortunately, I am sadly lacking in the skills required to be a professional photographer. I collected my photos Monday evening and they were awful. The quality was rubbish and though most of them were taken standing on tip-toes with my camera held aloft over my head, I was very disappointed with how they turned out. But I have since discovered that the money I paid to do the Journalism course, although I am not currently employed in the field of journalism, was not entirely wasted…it was and is astonishing to witness the amount of political and editorial spin put on the events of Saturday the 25th of February in the mainstream media.

    I read the Indymedia Ireland article linked on this site yesterday and I can tell you that it was the truest, most honest eyewitness account to pretty much anything I have ever been able to bear witness to. Yes, I’m sure there was some rabble-rousing beforehand, and yes there were sectarian slogans chanted during the riot, but the people on the front line, who were breaking stuff up and pelting it at the cops, were pretty much all hoodie-wearing, Celtic FC-supporting, tracksuited chavs and spides with little or no political affiliation and whatever pseudo-republican motives they were effecting (no doubt in the full knowledge that the national media were watching) for the day that was in it, I can assure you, they were temporary.

    I would also agree with the author that this riot will have little or no bearing on the wider peace process and its consequences in that context are being ridiculously exaggerated as usual, however it could have serious implications for the maintenance of law and order on the streets of Dublin in the near future. For instance, anyone who has witnessed the city centre on Paddy’s Day in the last 2-3 years would I think concur that there is potential cause for worry looking ahead to the impending celebrations this year, which are barely a fortnight away.