Misleading British press coverage of demonstration in Rome on 10 November 2001

by Stephen Hewitt Saturday 19 January 2002, revised 13 March 2003

A large crowd stretching into the distance filling a wide city street
La manifestazione contro la guerra ieri a Roma Foto Maurizio Di Loreti, il manifesto 11 Nov 2001

This photograph is from the front page of the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto, 11 November 2001 . The photograph was part of a report on a march which took place on Saturday 10 November in Rome. This was evidently an enormous demonstration of public opinion on the war and the purpose of this web page will be to document how it was reported by the British press.

In fact, it was either ignored or misrepresented. The Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Times, Sunday Times, Guardian, Independent all ignored this demonstration. The Observer of Sunday 11 November 2001 in a column under the title "Crisis in brief" contained five items, the last of which was this:

Hawks and doves fly the flag

Rome was divided by war and peace yesterday as tens of thousands of people attended a pro-US rally at the same time as protesters denounced the Afghan conflict just a few streets away. Holding aloft a sea of US and Italian flags the American supporters chanted 'USA, USA'. 'Today, we are all citizens of New York,' Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told the crowd in Rome's Piazza del Popolo.

Note that the above picture from Il Manifesto is not Piazza del Popolo. Il Manifesto is making a pun. Since "popolo" means "people" and there are many people, they have titled it thus. This explains the lower case "p" on "popolo". What actually happened in Piazza del Popolo was a much smaller rally organised by prime minister Berlusconi, which is what the Observer has chosen to devote its attention to.

Here are the techniques that the Observer has used to hide from its readers the demonstration that you see pictured above:

Additional notes

There is a CNN report in Italian

What is immediately apparent from the CNN website is the remarkable absence of pictures showing how many people were at the "pro-US" march. There are lots of celebrities and flags in front of the camera, but where are the people? Only one picture contains more than a handful, and in that there are about enough to fill a large theatre.

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