Crims aren't Bikers Media Campaign
How often do we see news reports describing dangerous biker gangs doing wheelies down residential roads, terrorising local residents, snatching mobile phones or robbing jewellery stores? The reports come out daily. The reality, as we all know is that the individuals carrying out these acts are normally on stolen machines and often have no licence, insurance, nor understanding of what a biker really is.
Lazy media coverage and poor editorial rigour is reinforcing all the negative stereotypes with which motorcyclists have been branded for eternity to a point where it seems that the mainstream press see the terms biker and criminal as interchangeable. Getting media coverage and exposure for the issue of bike theft is good news for us all, but the negative impact on the reputation of the real biking community is not one that we want to continue.
MAG has begun its campaign to educate and edify news editors and reporters by writing a formal letter to the Director General of the BBC, Tony Hall. In the letter, signed by MAG’s National Chair, Selina Lavender, it was explained that not all bikers are criminals, and therefore the term should not be used to describe criminals. In his response, the DG said: “You make some important points …. I will let our News and programme teams know of the work that you and the Motorcycle Action Group are doing” We now need to roll out a national campaign to edify editors and reporters nationally. The negative connotations that our passion – biking - has suffered for decades will not be reversed overnight, but the way we are portrayed in the media is a vital strand of this mammoth task.
Simply complaining in comments sections on social media is not enough: we need to target senior editors and reporters to stop the lazy use of stereotype-building terminology. Criminals need to be described as criminals. Bank robbers are not described as motorists when they drive getaway cars, muggers are not described as athletes when they run away from the scene, so why are criminals who choose to steal our machines described as bikers when they snatch phones or place others’ lives in danger by doing wheelies down footpaths? We are asking for all MAG activists to help in this campaign. If you see or hear a report using the terms biker or motorcyclist to describe a criminal, bring it to the attention of your local or regional rep, or to Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown.
Once we have two or three examples from a particular publication, TV or radio channel, we ask reps to write formally to the relevant editors for local publications. For national publications we will co-ordinate letters centrally. We have a template letter, but these letters need to be targeted and carry relevant examples of the reports.
The goal is to formally write to every newspaper, magazine, television channel, radio station, and blogger, advising that comments or reports on anti-social riding and moped-enabled crime that use the term “biker” or “motorcyclist” as a reference to criminals is unacceptable.
Stage two of the campaign will be to issue positive recognition to editors who act on our request, so we also ask all activists to bring to our attention any examples of reports that correctly use terminology to describe criminals as criminals when motorcycles are involved in the reports. Consistent use of sensible terminology will be formally recognised and celebrated.