CBSN

Column: Mainstream Media Covered Up Protests At RNC

This story was written by Larissa Puro, Daily Trojan

The Republican National Convention is over, done-with, finito, a thing of the past. So why, then, are so many people still smoldering over the RNC protests?

Wait, there were protests?

That's right. Thousands of people protested outside the RNC and hundreds were arrested, including journalists. For the first time, however, America's news ignorance is not to blame for the lack of coverage surrounding this major event.

The first day of the RNC was allegedly delayed because of Hurricane Gustav. The two news stories that day consisted of those topics alone. Newscasts endlessly broadcasted out of the empty convention hall and flashed maps of Gustav's path. No one mentioned protests going on right outside the convention doors.

On the streets of St. Paul, Minn., what has been described as an army of police forcefully controlled crowds with mace, tear gas and pellet guns.

Many are calling out riot police on brutality, unlawful arrest and unreasonable house raids. Well-known journalist Amy Goodman of the TV and radio show "Democracy Now!" was arrested on camera while asking to see her crew members (who were allegedly injured by police and arrested as well). Another journalist group that was investigating police brutality said it was stopped by police, who then confiscated the members' equipment, saying they were burglary suspects.

By the end of the convention, an estimated 800 people were arrested, two dozen of them journalists, according to The New York Times.

As a result of the RNC protests, people's trust in the government and the press has slipped even further. Police arrested journalists, though it appears most reporters were simply doing their constitutionally protected job: gathering news. And if journalists were at fault for overstepping or ignoring the law, or for simply not covering the story, their duty as "watchdogs of society" should seriously be questioned.

Footage from those who attended the protests immediately slammed the Internet. Since then, hundreds more videos have trickled their way onto YouTube, igniting vicious debates among viewers. These one-sided and often emotional eyewitness accounts lack context and might give a distorted perception of what really went on.

The majority of the news groups who covered the protests appear to be underground, liberal and agenda-driven. While they got shocking and compelling footage of seemingly peaceful protesters falling victim to police violence, context, again, is lacking.

Many mainstream news organizations, though by no means unbiased, are constantly in the public eye and have the resources and investigative abilities to obtain more comprehensive reports. The reporters and the companies are liable for the information they gather, which would have given coverage of the protests more credibility than eyewitness snippets from people engaged in the protests themselves.

While it is naive to say Fox or CNN would fairly cover both sides of the protest story, they would have at least trained the public eye away from petty campaign mudslinging and onto a more important issue.

Strangely, nearly three weeks following the first of the protests, mainstream outlets are finally picking up this story for the first time when they should have been there, live at the scene. Apparently, empty convention halls, 24-hour hurricane coverage, pregnancy drama and pig quotes are far more riveting than smoke bombs and mace in the streets of t. Paul. Come on, America. Whatever happened to reality TV?