Vaccine protest turned ugly for journalist accused of capturing fake narrative - Press Gazette

Vaccine protest turned ugly for journalist accused of capturing fake narrative

A videojournalist was targeted by anti-vaccine protesters in London on Saturday who accused him of seeking to tell a distorted version of the story.

Jason Parkinson joined the Unite for Freedom protest for several hours on 18 December and said it was mostly “peaceful though aggressive” towards the media.

“I got used to that – not to say that it is right but you do become accustomed to it,” he told Press Gazette. He said many “anti-vax” protests have a similar “hatred and resentment” towards journalists.

However at about 4.40pm near Downing Street he was targeted by a group of protesters who accused him of twisting the narrative.

Footage filmed by Parkinson (below) shows a man grabbing his camera before several men begin accusing him of only turning up to tell a certain narrative.

One said: “This is the f**king narrative that they want: ‘Anti-vaxxers turn up and kick off with the police.’ We’ve been out all f**king day.”

Parkinson responded: “I’ve been here all day. I have covered everything.”

He was told in response: “And I bet you you’ll edit the last 20 minutes. So I’ll see all your lovely photos of the whole of Oxford Street? You’re going to tell the actual story of today? No, I doubt it. I very much doubt it.”

Parkinson gave his name and told the men to check what he put out online.

Another man said: “I hope so though. It’s real journalism if you are.”

A voice that appears to be the first man chimes back in: “He’s not a real journalist. He’s turned up with his f**king big camera this second when it started kicking off.”

Parkinson was then upset to arrive home and discover similar claims shared online by Emma Kenny, a therapist who appears on ITV’s This Morning and writes a column for Closer magazine. She did not attend the protest herself.

Kenny, who has 92,000 Twitter followers, wrote: “Intel from a journalist who has just witnessed a staged attack on the police by a group of non protesters who came to help the press get the picture they want. It was done so the papers can deflect from the real protesters. They came, created a fake story and left. DISGUSTING.”

She also said: “Isn’t it an AMAZING feat of journalism that with hundreds and thousands of peaceful protesters the press always manage to be right there at the moment that a small group start being aggressive…some would find that suspicious at best and disgraceful at worst! Wake up!”

Parkinson told Press Gazette he had complained to the National Union of Journalists, of which he is a member, about the tweets.

He said: “I have had worse, it’s just absurd when you have somebody employed by ITV putting out statements like that.”

Kenny said in a statement: “I condemn abuse directed against anyone. Journalists should always be able to do their job without fear or impediment.

“Similarly we are all free in the UK to express our sincerely held views especially at this time.  I firmly oppose any move by the State towards mandatory vaccination and believe autonomy over one’s own body is sacrosanct.”

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the NUJ, told Press Gazette: “Journalists are increasingly operating in challenging and unsafe environments when covering protests and demos on the streets of the UK, with a disturbing spike in incidents of harassment, abuse and physical attacks.”

Picture: Thomas Krych/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images



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1 thought on “Vaccine protest turned ugly for journalist accused of capturing fake narrative”

  1. I was a photojournalist for the Mirror for 36 years. I have lost track of the number of times I was told how lucky I was to be in the right place at the right time. Outside Number 10 exactly when the Prime Minister came through the door, a visiting President arrived, or on a demonstration when something dramatic happened. No, I was not lucky; in fact that was my job. I was in the right place at the right time through a mix of experience, judgement, and often being on the scene for hours before. To get the position I wanted in Downing Street opposite the door to Number 10 (or Number 11 on Budget Day) I was often there at breakfast time. Much the same at a protest or demonstration. Get there early, talk to people, work out what might happen. Simple observation can often identify potential troublemakers. On news stories I might shoot several hundred pictures, and it was the Editor’s choice what went in the paper, not mine. To blame the individual photographer or cameraman shows complete ignorance of how media works.

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