Far Right Must Be Tackled Over Journalist Attacks

It is a worrisome time to be a journalist in the UK -- and not just because of the job cuts going around the industry.

The beating handed out to well-known Guardian writer Owen Jones at the weekend could have been a "gay-bashing," but it was more likely an attack by right-wing thugs on an outspoken writer from the left of politics.

Certainly The Guardian reveals that Owen Jones features regularly in messenger boards populated by Tommy Robinson reporters and is singled out with the threat of violence. 

In fact, it was at Tommy Robinson's retrial last month that the public got to see all they need to know about the right and their hatred for the press. Reporters complained about goading crowds, having beer thrown at them and being spat at. 

The situation got so bad that a BBC was forced to leave the scene outside the court one day. The major broadcasters reportedly hired security staff to protect news crews.

James Goddard, another right-wing thug in a yellow vest, was convicted earlier this year for threatening and then attacking a photojournalist who has sadly become accustomed to receiving constant written and verbal threats because of an incorrect rumour that he works with an anti-fascist group.

The irony is, of course, when it comes to the hideous scenes surrounding Tommy Robinson's conviction, he was being sent to prison for nearly ruining a case against a grooming gang by using it as part of his malicious diatribe against muslims. The only person whose actions might have led to a crime go unpunished was in the dock. 

The far right complain about media coverage and bias, but the media adhere to the rules governing reporting -- he does not. He was given two trials to prove his innocence and failed both times. His list of convictions -- including fraud, assault and football hooliganism -- got that little bit longer.

So what's going on? I'd suggest this is all due to right-wing and left-wing activists getting fed up with responsible professional reporting. Too many people just follow the same people who echo their views and report on the news through the lens of a political axe to grind on social media and start-up blog. It means they then believe that anyone who does not repeat such biased reporting is one of the MSM (mainstream media) who are to be reviled. 

Jeremy Corbyn had to ask supporters at a press conference yesterday to quiet down so journalists (who were at a press conference after all) could ask very reasonable questions about Brexit and the leader of the opposition's views on talk of a "unity" government to replace Boris Johnson. 

It's too easy to point the finger abroad, when looking for a reason for bad behaviour at home, but it has to be said that President Trump's constant berating of the professional press who (outside of Fox's studios) hold him to account. The taunt they are "the enemy of the people" is resonating in the UK, where journalists are now being labelled "traitors" for not printing or broadcasting what thugs want to read or listen to.

The NUJ is right to appeal to the police to help members do their jobs in safety. When camera crews are lined up outside one of the highest law courts in the UK and they need to employ security firms to keep thugs at arm's length, you know we have a very real problem. 

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