Representation of youth in newspapers: The London Riots
CASE STUDY: REPRESENTATIONS OF YOUTH IN THE
LONDON RIOTS NEWS COVERAGE
• Find ATLEAST four newspaper articles and analyse them using the structure
and guidance provided.
1. Newspaper, name of article and date.
2. Article topic and overview of main points:
- Write the topic sentence for each paragraph (the first sentence) and then summarise what
that paragraph deals with.
3. Examples of language used:
- Choose key quotations throughout the article and analyse specific words in terms of how
youth is represented vs. how the police or others are represented (the point of view or bias in
4. Images used:
- Briefly describe the picture(s) and then comment on what meaning they give to the article.
5. Messages and values (ideologies). What is being said about young people? Summarise.
• Why did this new receive such wide press coverage? Which of the news
values apply and why?
DAILY MAIL 9/08/11
Title: Emotive language ‘thugs’
Orgy of violence rages’. This immediately
signifies bias as the offenders are labelled
‘thugs’ – criminals who will perpetrate violence
for no particular reason.
‘Orgy’ of violence suggests that what the thugs
were undertaking was deeply pleasurable for
them and signifies the amount of people
Topic sentence: paragraph about the
violence taking place.
Language: Described as “sporadic”
“attacks”. “Sporadic” seems as though
there is no organisation or reason
behind them and “attacks” make s
what was happening seem as though it
was a deliberate attack on the public.
Opposites established: ‘Normal
people’ dining and the rioters
smashing and destroying.
Topic sentence: An attack on a
Language: The detail about them
riding BMX’s emphasises their age
and again, opposites are
established: commuters vs. the
Opposites established: ‘Normal
people’ dining and the rioters
smashing and destroying. The
terror of ‘normal’ citizens
Photo of group of hoodies
chosen. Rep of youth:
‘hoodies’ in gangs.
Caption emphasises ‘masked’ in
order to make a connection with
hoodies and moral panics.
Binary Opposite established:
The teenage ‘thug’ creating
violence and the police
officer with his hand out as
though asking for peace.
Again, ‘masked’ emphasised but this time ‘yob’ used, instead of ‘thug’. The caption anchors the meaning of the photo
and suggests the teenager is throwing the bottle at the police. The framing tries to suggest that he is throwing the
bottle at the police officer pictured who is appealing for peace.
Selection of source: A woman running
for her life. Very dramatic. Us vs Them
clearly established here once again:
Normal folk vs. the teen yobs.
The caption anchors
the meaning of the
text: Young and
teenagers taking part
in the riots overall.
Photo = binary
law and order and
Person in the picture labelled as a
‘rioter’ though no evidence to
suggest he is doing anything wrong
other than walking passed a
Nonchalance / uncaring /
lawlessness of youth represented.
Summary of ideologies:
• Those taking part in the riots represented exclusively young people and hoodies /face
coverings emphasised to link to moral panics and hoodies. Also, groups or gangs.
• Police and ‘normal’ citizens seen as victims. Binary Opposition: Us vs. Them.
• Binary Opposition: Law and order vs. chaos and crime
• No reasons for riots explored and no sources from younger generation
• Bias language used when referring to youths: ‘thugs’
Newspaper, name of article and date: BBC News, ‘London riots: Looting and violence continues’ – 8th
Article topic and overview of main points: Police have condemned a wave of "copycat criminal activity"
across London in a second night of looting and disorder following riots in Tottenham - Over 100 people
been arrested after attacking officers, damaging their vehicles and destroying shops. Officers been injured
and hurt after just 2 nights of rioting. The riots spread to other areas in the South of the city.
Examples of language used: ‘he saw up to 200 youths charging at riot police’ ‘This is individuals who are
actually attacking communities, businesses, properties and houses’ ‘copycat criminal activity’ ‘More than 30
youths vandalising and looting ‘ ‘A police vehicle being attacked’ ‘disgusting and shocking’ ‘police did a good
job’ – the language used is very strong and feels as if the media are attacking the youths who caused the
riots. Bias towards the police by saying they did a good job and making the audience feel sympathetic
towards them by saying they’ve been attacked and are now injured. Opposites (youth vs. police – bad vs.
Image of a large amount of youths gathered around each
other and other youths throwing things towards others.
Support the idea of youths being bad and police don’t deserve
the way they are being treated.
Messages and values: Young people are being represented negatively and the media are saying they have
caused all the trouble which was not needed.
Newspaper, name of article and date: Daily Mail, ‘We ran for our lives as thugs ambushed bus: Chaos across
the capital as orgy of violence rages on’, 9th August 2011
Article topic and overview of main points: ‘From Hackney to Croydon, gangs of teenagers fought running
battles with police, making roadblocks from burning cars and ransacking shops.’ – Hackney to Croydon is a
long journey which signifies how much trouble and chaos was caused by these ‘gangs’. Referring teenagers
within ‘gangs’ immediately is a negative stereotype and dehumanises them in such a way as they are signified
as bad people who go around causing trouble needlessly.
Examples of language used: ‘Masked rioters on BMX bicycles armed with batons attacked a crowded London
bus during the evening rush-hour last night, chasing terrified commuters as they tried to escape. The thugs,
some as young as eight, forced the driver to stop the double-decker by pelting it with champagne bottles
stolen from a nearby Tesco. A bout 40 passengers – some carrying screaming toddlers – burst out of the exits
and sprinted away.’ - The language used is strong which gives the audience a negative image of these
teenagers. The fact that some of the teenagers ‘were as young as 8’ signifies how bad youths are nowadays
and how easily young kids can be influenced. The fact that some of the passengers had little toddlers with
them, signifies that these teenagers don’t care and will do anything to get their own way. Binary opposites of
good VS bad are shown here with the teenagers being bad and these innocent passengers as good.
The image here shows a gang stealing a TV. They are all in black
and dark clothes with balaclavas on their face to hide their
identity so that the police don’t catch them.
Messages and values: Negative stereotypes of youths who behave badly in order to get a name in the media.
Newspaper, name of article and date: BBC Newsround, ‘London riots: What caused the Tottenham riots?’,
8th August 2011
Article topic and overview of main points: ‘What could've caused the worst violence in the north London
area of Tottenham in more than 25 years?’ – 25 years without any violence is a long time and this signifies
that it may have been coming. This is because they suddenly just arrived without any notice signifying that
these teenagers had planned it for a while. It was named the worst violence which connotes that they have
never seen anything like it and are shocked with what happened.
Examples of language used: ‘Buildings and cars were burnt, shops were looted, and petrol bombs were
thrown at police during a weekend of rioting. But police said Saturday's peaceful protest over Mark Duggan's
death was "hijacked" by "mindless thugs". – The police called them ‘mindless thugs’ which automatically
suggests they believe that they are uneducated and do things without thinking. The fact that they chucked
petrol bombs signifies how dangerous they can be and will do anything to cause trouble with the police and
the rest of the community.
The picture shows an arrest being made and the teenager being
arrested is wearing a tracksuit with his hood up which represents a
‘thug’ look which reinforces the police’s thoughts about them.
Messages and values: The youth are bad and are stereotyped negatively but bring it up on themselves due
to their actions.
Newspaper, name of article and date: Daily Telegraph, ‘London riots: the underclass lashes out’, 8th August
Article topic and overview of main points: ‘London's rioters are the products of a crumbling nation, and an
indifferent political class that has turned its back on them.’ - The nation is said to be ‘crumbling’ according to
this newspaper and this is because of the teenagers who caused these riots. The teenagers are what are
causing the nation to go downhill which signifies the amount of trouble they can cause to this nation and
that no one can do anything about it. The are seen as underclass which suggests they are uneducated which
is why they do things like this.
Examples of language used: ‘The police shot a black guy in suspicious circumstances. Feral kids with no jobs
ran amok. Its participants, marshalled by Twitter, are protagonists in a sinister flipside to the Arab Spring.
The Tottenham summer, featuring children as young as seven, is an assault not on a regime of tyranny but
on the established order of a benign democracy.’ – ‘A black guy was shot in suspicion’ – This signifies that
the police may be bringing up a negative stereotype on black teenagers as they shot him on suspicion,
without any evidence. This could lead to an idea that this is why they commit crimes because of racism.
Social networking sites are what they use to get everyone involved so are social networking sites at fault?
This is the left over of one of the shops that got looted
during the riots. You can see the damage these youths
have caused and can see what they are capable of
Messages and values: Ideologies of negativity about teenagers is shown and that they may only be on this
planet to cause crimes.