The Guardian’s Paul Lewis & London Riots: 13 stories, 12,000 words, & only 1 ethnicity mentioned

As we noted yesterday, Paul Lewis’s report on the London Riots from Aug. 7, “Tottenham riots: a peaceful protest, then suddenly all hell broke loose, found it relevant to note that some Hasidic Jews allegedly were among those who jeered police, yet didn’t find it pertinent to report the race or ethnicity of any other group which jeered police, or participated in the riots.

Again, here’s the passage:

“The make-up of the rioters was racially mixed. Most were men or boys, some apparently as young as 10….But families and other local residents, including some from Tottenham’s Hasidic Jewish community, also gathered to watch and jeer at police.”

Per our post from yesterday, this seems like a flagrant violation of the Guardian’s Editorial Code, which prohibits such ethnic or racial descriptions, “unless pertinent to the story”.

So, I decided to go through the previous thirteen reports about the London Riots which were either authored or co-authored by Paul Lewis to see if the Aug. 7th story was anomalous.

As it turns out, in those reports – encompassing over 12,000 words – the only time a particular ethnicity was noted in any context relating to the riots, looters, or onlookers was the Aug. 7th reference to Hasidic Jews.

There was only one other reference to race in any context, and that was to dispel the notion that the rioters were largely black – tying in with the general narrative of the Guardian that the race of the rioters is mixed.

Here’s the quote from the Aug. 8 dispatch:

“As in Tottenham the previous night, the makeup of the crowd reflected the local demographic. Young men were in the majority, although there were women, and some older people present too, but contrary to the reports I was hearing on the radio phone-ins, these were not “black youths”: in Enfield, they were mostly white.”

Indeed, the rioters were typically characterized by Lewis as merely “youths” – a word which was used 31 times in the 13 reports. 

I contacted the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor yesterday to inquire about the reference to Hasidic Jews, and why it was “pertinent” to Lewis’s story, but, thus far, haven’t received a reply. 

Here are the thirteen reports reviewed in this post:

London riots: how did the Metropolitan police lose control of the capital? | UK news | The Guardian

Hackney rioters and police in hand-to-hand combat | UK news | guardian.co.uk

Hackney rioters directly target police | UK news | The Guardian

Enfield and Edmonton riots: ‘The mood was calmer, it felt premeditated’ | UK news | The Guardian

London riots spread south of Thames | UK news | guardian.co.uk

Doubts emerge over Duggan shooting as London burns | UK news | The Guardian

Second night of violence in London – and this time it was organised | UK news | The Guardian

We warned Tottenham situation could get out of control – community leaders | UK news | The Guardian

Tottenham riots: a peaceful protest, then suddenly all hell broke loose | UK news | The Guardian

Tottenham riots: Police ‘had not anticipated’ extreme violence | UK news | guardian.co.uk

Tottenham riots: 26 police officers injured and 42 people arrested | UK news | guardian.co.uk

Tottenham riot: Sustained looting follows night of violence | UK news | guardian.co.uk

Tottenham in flames as riot follows protest | UK news | The Observer

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