Who’s message is it anyway?

On the 12th of April Strängnäs Tidning reported on Nazi vandalism across Strängnäs city, with people allegedly hitting up 25-30 different places with their message. At first glance it concerned me greatly as i fall under the label of ‘foreigner’ (being from the U.K and looking a little darker due to my father’s Italian roots) and live and work locally. Having experienced some pretty horrific racism in Strängnäs (due to being mistaken as Arab) when i first arrived to Sweden some three years ago, this news conjured up some bad memories, so much so that i was in two minds whether to even publish this post.

What concerned me most about the article when i read it the first time was the numerous full-screen images of the group’s message. (which according to the articles date-stamp were later in the day edited out to leave just one cropped image of the message) The sheer quantity of images in the original publication made me first think – well if these so called ‘Nazi’s’ wanted attention for their cause then this article surely is aiding and abetting them to a certain extent, no? I mean, it’s super important to get this information out there, and to have an informed public, but when it comes to these types of groups trying to get their message out, do we the public really believe that these groups believe old fashioned analogue graffiti is the best way to get their message to reach the maximum amount of people? i doubt it – but it makes for a great photo-op though.

They – as do many groups like them – use social media as a primary way to get their position understood. Graffiti done like this serves to make the public think this is just a juvenile reaction, and to some extent will disregard it as such. These types of events can also serve to hook the local press into unwittingly helping the cause by reporting on it more widely; the results of which can gain more recruits for the cause, and perhaps even increase superficial fear amongst the local inhabitants.

So how to report on such events in the future while being conscious of potentially propagating the message further? I am not sure it’s possible. A reporter’s job is to report what happened, nothing more nothing less; and that’s exactly what Strängnäs Tidning did, only this time in doing so, it can be argued (if only for 5 hours) they aided the cause to some extent – and that, perhaps (with some mixed public reactions) was the reason behind them eventually removing the bulk of the imagery in the article.

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