Updated on September 2, 2011
Three #riotreview topics the media isn’t covering: the NHL, themselves, ‘everyday heroes’
In the mountains of coverage of The Night the City Became a Stadium, the remarkable report on the Stanley Cup riots by Douglas Keefe and John Furlong, three key sets of recommendations on riot prevention have been almost entirely passed over. They are:
1. Professional hockey and the NHL
Riots have occurred in four out of the last five Stanley Cup final series, twice in Montreal. (There are some who will claim Mayor Gregor Robertson caused them, too.) Is there a connection with hockey? A Facebook friend writes on my wall that “nobody seems to mention the violence and remarkable lack of sportsmanship that characterize professional hockey.”
But the commissioners do open that question: “It is, regrettably, impossible to fully separate what happened that day from the sport of professional hockey. The NHL should have an interest in working with teams and communities to promote peaceful, happy hockey celebrations — especially around its premier event and season finale, the game that decides the Stanley Cup.” Can the sport promote fighting on the ice, but urge fans to just hug and high-five after the game?
The commissioners recommend that “the NHL should be urged to partner with host cities and NHL franchises competing for the Stanley Cup to help ensure the best, safest public celebrations possible.” To their credit, the Canucks have already stepped up. But from the NHL and sports writers? Silence.
2. The role of the media
There is wall to wall coverage of the role of social media in the riots, but none that I have been able to find of these recommendations, which flow from a mild critique of the quality of mainstream media work:
- That for all regional events media partners be invited into event planning at the highest level to ensure the information and communication process before, during, and after the event is prepared so as to best help media communicate accurate and timely information to the public at all stages of delivery.
- That all major Vancouver media be encouraged to stage their own regional event round table discussions to develop the best approaches to covering regional events so as to best serve the public good without affecting their ability to report on the unfolding events.
The commissioners write that “the reach of media outlets is immense and we believe it is still relevant for them to examine their own standards and code of conduct to be sure the role they are playing is truly serving the public interest.” Any takers?
3. A long-term community-based solution — a volunteer corps of “Everyday Heroes”
The commissioners propose that the city drive the creation of a “new ‘Everyday Heroes’ volunteer initiative [and] ensure that such a program is developed to meet some of the human and technical needs of staging these events.” The outpouring of volunteer energy in the clean-up was evidence of what could be achieved, as VANOC did during the Olympics, by training and maintaining volunteers to help with the staging of major events.
There will be a price tag for this, but the benefits are obvious. Again, any takers?