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London town is burning down #ukriots

August 9, 2011

The media has been full of images showing the extent of the violence and destruction taking place in London

London is in a state of utter mayhem this evening after a series of violent riots ripped through the capital leaving a trail of chaos, devastation and fear across the capital.

There are currently 16,000 police men and women deployed throughout the city in an attempt to quel the violent mob that has ravaged this city – and others – for the past four days. Looters, protesters, petty thieves, vandals and criminals have come together to form a mob of utter mayhem as they tear throughout the UK’s cities leaving behind a trail of total devastation and destruction wherever they go.

Anyone who has picked up a newspaper, watched the television or (if you’re a resident in London, Manchester or Birmingham) looked out of the window will have seen the chaos and horror that has flared up throughout the UK’s biggest cities in the past three days. The media has provided coverage of the story from every angle – from live blogs to infographics showing the worst-affected areas of London.

The true power of Twitter has once again been proven as it provided both rioters and spectators with an essential tool for spreading news and information about the riots. There has been speculation that the social networking site has contributed to the ever-growing panic and hysteria surrounding the riots, however to my mind it has proved an invaluable tool for those of us desperate to learn more about the terror tearing through our beloved capital.

Large businesses and warehouses were targeted by rioters

From top journalists to innocent bystanders, the site has provided users with a wealth of information about the riots, including photographs of looters proudly marching away with their stash (useful when the police come to identifying the criminals) and devastating images of buildings and businesses burning to the ground after being set alight by vandals and protesters. The coverage has been astounding and, in some cases, has demonstrated the sheer determination and courage of some of the country’s finest journalists.

As a relative newcomer to the profession I am in awe of the work of some journos who have spent the past three nights dashing into the fray as it were, focused on nothing other than providing reliable, up-to-date and brutally blunt coverage of the action as it unfolded.

Sky News’ Mark Stone earned himself a spot on the Twitter trend list after he boldly journeyed into the heart of the Clapham riots, armed with a video camera, to confront in-action looters and ask them why they were taking part in such blatant criminal activity.

His fearless pursuit of the real riot story has caused a stir on Twitter, with many tweeps praising his journalistic bravery. One user summed it up perfectly tweeting: “Let us be absolutely clear about this: Sky’s Mark Stone has balls of steel.”

While there are some who will continue to criticise Twitter as a dangerous weapon for rioters hoping to organise themselves, I cannot see the site as anything other than a vital journalistic tool. Surely the social network has proven itself as an integral asset to modern-day reporting?

It’s terrifying and bizarre to watch the action unfold in front of you in a series of 140-character updates but worryingly, it seems to be the most up-to-date and honest account of the riots thus far.

To all those journalists, police officers and members of the general public out on the streets of London, Manchester, Birmingham and indeed any other city affected by the riots please stay safe and follow the advice listed here.

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