Monday 5 September 2011

UK Riots: Guardian and LSE to look at the causes

The causes and consequences of the riots and civil unrest in England last month is to be examined in a study by the Guardian and the London School of Economics.

Paul Lewis, (pictured) the Guardian journalist who won plaudits for the way in which he used new media to cover the rioting on the frontline, writes on the Guardian website today: "Researchers will interview hundreds of people who were involved, in the first empirical study into the widespread rioting and looting.

"As well as surveys of those who took part in the disorder, the research will include interviews with residents, police and the judiciary, and an advanced analysis of more than 2.5m riot-related Twitter messages."

The study – Reading the Riots – is supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Open Society Foundations.

Speaking at an NUJ discussion on the riots last month, Paul Lewis described much of the journalism in the aftermath of the riots as "really quite bad".

He said: "I haven't read a single good piece which has interviewed a lot of people who were involved in the riots. Not one. I cannot understand why that is. Foreign reporters manage to interview members of the Taliban but not interview kids who were involved in the riots in the UK. It's almost incomprehensible."

The Reading the Riots study is modelled on a survey conducted in the aftermath of the Detroit riots in 1967. The findings of that study, the result of a collaboration between the Detroit Free Press newspaper and Michigan's Institute for Social Research, challenged prevailing assumptions about the cause of the unrest.

Pic: Paul Lewis (Jon Slattery)

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