It’s been ten days now since the Grenfell tower block in London was consumed by flames. The fire has had serious repercussions for Prime Minister Theresa May’s government, which was barely clinging to power after very close election and now has its housing and social policy under serious scrutiny, as the blame game unfolds.
Journalists arriving at the scene got an earful from residents who say the media ignored them when they tried to raise their safety concerns, until the fire – the tragedy – suddenly made them newsworthy. Those reports of unheeded safety warnings, that cosmetic renovation that used a flammable material, because it was a little cheaper, in one of the richest areas in Europe, have turned the charred remains of Grenfell Tower into a symbol of entrenched inequality; Exhibit A in the case against a government accused of failing to take care of its most vulnerable.
Are the mainstream news media in the UK any better at dealing with marginalised communities than governments are? On stories where complex issues – like housing, inequality, austerity, race and class, intersect – the answer would appear to be: no.
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