Did journalists fail the residents of Grenfell Tower? Debate at City University, London, Tuesday 28 November

Did journalists let down the residents of Grenfell Tower?

This is the question being asked at a public debate tomorrow night (28 November) at City University in London – organised in association with Press Gazette.

Newsnight journalist John Sweeney, who has covered the aftermath of the 14 June tragedy in which 71 people died, will be on the panel along with local MP Emma Dent Coad (subject to Parliamentary business), former Kensington journalist turned media consultant Grant Feller and Sophie Barnes of Inside Housing.

The event will look at the demise of local newspaper journalism in Kensington and ask why concerns raised by residents before the fire were not highlighted by journalists.

In November 2016 the Grenfell Action Group blog said: “It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO [Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation], and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders.”

A subsequent blog post on the day of the fire said: “All of our warnings fell on deaf ears and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time.”

Grenfell blogger Edward Daffern, who lost everything in the fire, told the BBC’s Gemma Newby last week: “We’d been blogging for three or four years and you go back over that time there’s a lot of abusive behaviour evidenced forensically about what was happening to our community, but it wasn’t sexy so it never got picked up…

“If you look back now our whole community of North Kensington, the policy that the local authority was taking every public space and privatising it, that that could be missed by the BBC, by Channel Four, by these wider news agencies… The question should be for you, why did you miss it?

“Why aren’t our lives important enough for you?”

Inside Housing did highlight issues around Tower block fire safety before the Grenfell blaze, particularly the issue over flammable cladding panels. But the story was not considered to be of interest by the national media.

Back in 2014 the Kensington and Chelsea Chronicle ran a front page story covering residents’ concerns about asbestos on the site of a new school near Grenfell Tower.

But later that year the paper was closed by owner Trinity Mirror and its archive of online stories removed from the web.

In 2015, The Kensington and Chelsea news was revived as a free paper with one reporter writing for it from his home in Dorset whilst also providing content for two other editions.

But in July that paper was closed down leaving the borough of Kensington and Chelsea with no weekly newspaper or dedicated professional news website.

Tomorrow’s debate will also look at the decline of local news across London and the knock on effect that has had for democratic accountability and giving local residents a voice.

The event starts at 6.30pm in the Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre at City, University of London, Northampton Square, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 0HB. Sign up for free here.

 

Comments

2 thoughts on “Did journalists fail the residents of Grenfell Tower? Debate at City University, London, Tuesday 28 November”

  1. “I have been tweeting most Tory Govt M.P.s live in H.O.C.
    For the last months or two.
    Including front bench Minister like Sajid Javid- Andrea Leadson-Ms May
    The question “I put to them all was where is the Grenfell fire victims cash?
    The two big public donated cash amounts
    First when Tower blocks were still alight,
    (Possible Millions of pound of public money)
    Second Amount a large one too this was from a football match to help for the fire victims, again a public donated cash
    (Problem is it has all disappeared into thin- air)
    We believe the Tory Govt could have it and are using it to keep the family in Hotels like chickens in a coup.
    The money was public donated for the Grenfell fire victims only to rebuild they live after the fire.
    Not for Govt to use or any County Council in that area of Grenfell tower fire. To appropriate and use elsewhere in the country.
    Like could “have been used as a bribe to D.U.P. party the money for them just convenient appeared when cash for Grenfell fire victim disappeared in a puff of smoke.
    We have had no reply from any Troy Govt member or Ministers or Prime Minister Ms May, why we ask our self!
    Could our finding hold some truth and Tory Govt had to cash all along but spent it. Therefore, Govt will not reply to us,
    Public on this matter any of them now.
    If they do not have the cash we asked them to find it and pay out the fire victims, with the public donated cash, we all put into the pot in this country and form outside this country
    To rebuild the Grenfell fire victims lives for the better.

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