The death of Ian Tomlinson, Jane Austen, and how to raise children……..thoughts on the week’s stories.

Two stories this week, both in the Guardian, have refreshed my faith in journalism, firstly the unfolding tale of the tragic death of Ian Tomlinson, the newspaper seller who collapsed during the G20 protests in London; the other a feature in today’s Guardian about two different organisations helping troubled kids.

The extraordinary Ian Tomlinson story has been running in the Guardian all week; the newspaper has done painstaking detective work, piecing together eye witness reports and amazing bystander video footage.

It might sound odd or pretentious but there’s something about the way this story has developed that reminds me of a Jane Austen novel, in which you start out being told one individual is worthy and another of dubious character only to find, as the plot develops, that the exact opposite is the truth.

Early on, media coverage suggested that an unruly crowd had lobbed bottles at police officers tending a dying man; now it seems as if the police may have played a part in the man’s death, and the so called bottle lobbing was not a hail of fire but a single missile etc.

The other piece that has cheered me, in today’s Guardian, is a really thoughtful feature on two organisations with radically different approaches to troubled kids. Ray Lewis, hired and then fired by Boris Johnson, is a former prison governor who thinks zero tolerance is the best answer for wayward youths. Camila Batmanghelidjh is a psychotherapist who practises unconditional love and infinite patience.

Personally, I tend towards Batmanghelidjh’s methods as Lewis’s approach seems harsh and Victorian, but what’s so interesting about the feature is the way it draws out what the two organisations have in common, apart, that is, from being led by charismatic media friendly heads; both offer the young people consistent care.

The headline – ‘What is the right way to raise children?’ – implies that the discussions of method have resonance for all parents and carers. I would certainly agree, as someone who has long contemplated the difference between tough/tender approaches, although to no great practical effect!

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