Undercover hacks left cold by Occupy campers

Loitering within tents: journalists sent to report on anti-capitalist campaign remain unmoved

BY Jonathan Harwood LAST UPDATED AT 14:16 ON Mon 7 Nov 2011

WHATEVER became of idealistic young journalists who wish to change the world for the better? Opinion polls show a large degree of sympathy for the Occupy protest movement, but many young hacks sent out into the cold to report on the anti-capitalist campaign are unmoved.

The Sun dispatched reporter Amy Jones to St Paul's. "It's 7.30pm on Thursday and I should be settling down to watch EastEnders," she reports back. "Instead I'm dancing to a bongo version of Amazing Grace with a nun. Welcome to the crazy world of the St Paul's protest camp - home to anarchists, oddballs and posh students."
 
She paints the protestors as a selfish and contradictory bunch and claims many of them want to "drink and smoke themselves senseless". Most of the camp consists of students "skiving lectures" she says.
 
"No one can agree on what they actually want," she laments. "They all hate capitalism and the bankers, but that's the end of the common ground."
 
Jones ends her sojourn after finding herself being propositioned by a fellow protestor who invites her into the "love tent". "It's basically a massive orgy with loads of teenagers," he tells her. Jones, in time honoured journalistic fashion, makes her excuses and leaves.
 
The Daily Mail's intrepid reporter, Tom Rawstorne, was equally scathing in his assessment of the protests last week.
 
"Procrastination, contradiction and confusion are pretty much par for the course — and absolutely no one asks about my reason for being there," he sneered. "My fellow protesters are too busy posing for the world’s media, being interviewed by film crews and radio stations from around the world, and loving the attention."
 
Like Jones he seemed appalled that "a key activity is sitting around smoking joints and knocking back lager."
 
Over at the New York Post, reporter Candice M Giove is concerned about the lawlessness at the camp. She writes: "[Zuccotti Park] is now a sliver of madness, rife with sex attacks, robberies and vigilante justice.
 
"It's a leaderless bazaar that's been divided into state-like camps - with tents packed together so densely that the only way to add more would be to stack them. And despite an NYPD watchtower overhead and the entire north side of Zuccotti lined with police vehicles, it is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous places in New York City." · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.