British Newspapers and Infantile Reporting

Only around 20% of adults in Britain read newspapers. Of those who do, over 60% read the Big 5 daily nationals – The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Daily Telegraph and Daily Express. This article illustrates how infantile, bias and ludicrous most of these papers are and how troubling this can be to a democracy.

The press in every country has an incredible influence on how people think and vote. Mainstream impartial and nonpartisan press is difficult to find. The British newspaper industry illustrates this point elegantly.

On the 7th of May 2015, millions of Britons voted in the UK general election which saw the Conservative Party win their second successive election. They received 36.8% of all votes, over 11 million, but more importantly won in 330 from 650 parliamentary constituencies. The Labour Party won in 232 constituencies and finished in second.

Of the Big 5 daily nationals read in Britain, three (The Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph) openly align themselves with the Conservative Party, with a fourth (Daily Express) only recently switching from the Conservatives to UKIP. The Daily Mirror aligns itself with Labour.

As a poignant example of how these four papers report the news I have chosen to write about Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide victory in the Labour Party leadership election and first days as Labour leader.

annoucement

Jeremy Corbyn, an MP since 1983, was elected Labour leader on 12-Sep

The Daily Telegraph describes Corbyn as the bearded MP and a champion of lost causes, possibly referring to Corbyn’s links to the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Stop the War Coalition. In 1984 Corbyn was arrested whilst protesting the Aparthid regime in South Africa. The paper has also stressed how out of touch with the nation Corbyn – “the left-wing elitist” – is by not sharing the “patriotic classes” views on the military, Queen and IRA.

The Daily Mail, owned by aristocrat Jonathan Harmsworth, the 4th Viscount Rothermere (net worth of £1 billion), also attacks Corbyn’s appearance by referring to him as “the beardy professor”. They go further than the Daily Telegraph and write about his Bugs Bunny front tooth. Relating to Corbyn’s address at the TUC conference in Brighton on the 15th of September, the paper described Corbyn’s aide memoire as a crumpled sheet of paper which possibly had a shopping list on its other side.

The Sun, a member of Rupert Murdock’s global media empire and Britain’s most read daily, has renamed Corbyn as “Jezza” or “The Court Jezter” after his “hypocritical” agreement to becoming one of the Queen’s Privy Councillors; an act he must adopt to avoid issues relating to the constitutional status of the official opposition party.

The paper to beat when reporting on Corbyn is the Daily Express. Owned by Englishman Richard Desmond, who also founded Northern & Shell which in turn owns the adult TV channel Television X as well as other pornographic channels, the Daily Express is the master of insults.

An absurd Marxist or meddling Marxist clown, an eternal agitator, immature, puerile and a ridiculous zealot are only a few examples of how the paper has described Corbyn. Once again the MP’s appearance is attacked by labelling his style as the “homeless person given ill-fitting charity suit look”.

The Daily Express compares Corbyn’s strong convictions to Stalin’s and states that his old gospel of fundamentalist socialism has created human misery wherever it has been tried; perhaps referring to prosperous countries such as Norway, Switzerland and Denmark.

Corbyn is a self described democratic socialist not a Marxist communist. His rise to leader of the Labour Party is legitimate and was supported by over 250,000 votes (60% of all votes). No other politician in recent British history has been smeared and defamed the way he has.

dress

Politicians in beards and hats upset the tabloid press

It isn’t difficult to see why the mentioned newspapers have been so incredibly negative towards him; he isn’t a Conservative or UKIP politician.

Many people in Britain believe that the biggest selling newspapers share their views and sentiments. People accept that The Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express are papers for ordinary people written and printed by ordinary people.

An aristocrat, a global media tycoon and a pornographer do not sound like ordinary people.

These papers concern themselves with how Corbyn looks more than his actually political beliefs. What difference does it make if Corbyn has a beard or doesn’t wear the right suit? Does such commentary provide any useful insight into the man?

Corbyn is a republican that would like to see British taxpayers avoid having to give the Queen £40 million a year. Does that make him a traitor or a disgrace as the Daily Mail has branded him? An estimated 20-25% of Britons support the idea of a republic. Are they traitors too?

Corbyn is a member of several political organizations including, as mentioned, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, Amnesty International and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. These are not minor organizations; Amnesty International has over 7 million members worldwide. These causes are dear to many British people of all ages and class.

Where Corbyn could receive objective criticism is on his proposals to renationalise public utilities and railways companies and re-open Britain’s coal mines. Why haven’t these two proposals been picked up by the newspapers?

One story such papers as the Daily Express have referred to concerns Osama bin Laden and the Labour leader’s views on his death. It has been presented that, while taking part in a TV debate, Corbyn called bin Laden’s assassination in 2011 a tragedy. The quote has been used without content and linked to Corbyn’s other remarks describing the Hezbollah and Hamas organisations. What he was in fact referring to was that it was a tragedy that bin Laden was not put on trial. That no attempt whatsoever was made to arrest bin Laden. Corbyn also strongly disagrees with the death penalty under any circumstances.

But does it matter what the papers write and how they report? Less and less papers are being sold in Britain as people turn to new forms of media; sales have dropped by 25% over the last five years. More people are reading the news online with the BBC being the 7th most visited site (The Daily Mail is the 13th most visited site followed closely by The Guardian and The Telegraph).

I am of the opinion that newspapers remain significantly influential. The stories published sometimes go viral via social networks and are regularly discussed about on TV. Headlines sensationalise and catch the eye regardless of whether they are bought and read. Biased reporting and infantile attacks seep into the public’s conscience and are seen as acceptable forms of journalism, accepted ways of viewing the world and treating people. Is there a difference between how some newspapers ridicule someone’s teeth or choice in clothing any different to what a school bully does?

Reality has very little to do with what these papers care to write. Britain deserves better. The electorate deserve to be better informed. People need to know that how the owners of these papers attack and discredit their political opponents is unethical and wrong. The conservative newspapers discussed in this article are some of the most popular in the country and should attempt to report the news objectively.

If British people are as conservative, pro-military and loyal to the Queen – as these newspapers are – then how did Jeremy Corbyn get elected as leader of the second biggest political party in the country? Is he as out of touch with ordinary people as the newspapers are telling us?

More reputable newspapers are printed in Britain. People consider The Guardian and The Independent amongst them but they attract a much smaller readership; both papers do not make the top ten most read.

7 Thoughts on “British Newspapers and Infantile Reporting

  1. Tommy Cockles on 6th October 2015 at 12:29 pm said:

    It’s the British public who are infantile. The Tory press give them what they want. Most of the electorate are small minded, selfish, vindictive, greedy, nasty and just plain stupid. Why else would they buy and read this garbage…and vote Tory? This is what JC is up against. I blame the electorate for Tory governments.

    • Norman Hill on 24th October 2015 at 8:20 pm said:

      I’ve been saying exactly the same thing for years, Tommy…and if anything has changed at all it is that the electorate has become even more infantile than they were previously.

  2. stephen on 6th October 2015 at 2:08 pm said:

    The basic premise of your article is sound, but IMO understates the motives and purpose of right wing media ownership. It is to do 2 things: make money and spread propaganda.

    When you wrote ‘These papers concern themselves with how Corbyn looks more than his actually political beliefs’, I think you miss a crucial point. I suggest they are focusing on Corbyn’s appearance in order to undermine and marginalise his political beliefs.

    The message is ‘he’s scruffy, how can we trust him?’ It’s the mentality that would have lionised the smartly-dressed Adolf Hitler against the humbly-dressed Jesus Christ.

    The truth is that a politician who wants a redistribution of wealth – and an end to the gross inequalities which leave parasites like Murdoch, the Barclay brothers, Desmond and Harmsworth in control of 80% of our media – is a danger to them and their interests.

  3. Kulgyth on 6th October 2015 at 10:26 pm said:

    Stephen has hit the nail on the head. The press is not infantile, it is dangerous. The lies and distortion, the cant, bias and torrent of invective based upon the gamut of fallacies is the tactic they use to keep socialist argument at bay. To treat it as only worthy of ridicule is to paint any idea other than the neo-liberal mantra as being somehow a policy of the past.

    The Guardian and Independent are also merely “centre-left”. There is no mainstream media outlet that allows the promulgation of socialist ideas. No democracy can operate under these conditions. The media are the shapers of “the truth” and the dictators of the
    subjects under discussion. They have vast power. There is no place for proprietorial mass media in a democracy. All media should be cooperatives, that would allow the full range of opinions to be represented by the people that work in the industry, not dictated by the monstrous creatures that currently own “the truth”.

    Your article also falls into the trap of equating Marxism and communism with Stalinism. It most certainly is not.

  4. I no longer consider the Guardian a serious newspaper even though I still read it online quite often. Standards have slipped to Torygraph levels and their coverage of Corbyn would have disgraced the tabloids. These days the Mirror outshines them in its political reporting.

  5. Rudi Affolter on 25th October 2015 at 5:21 am said:

    I cannot agree with your comments and analysis of the Guardian’s coverage of Jeremy Steve but otherwise I pretty much concur with what you say about the press and JC. It is pretty much inevitable given that most newspapers are owned by multinational conglomerates. JC is suggesting radical changes in politics, economics and society and they have no real answer for what he says. So that attack him in ways that the Nazi’s would have been proud to use : sheer propaganda, lies and deceit. Clearly they are afraid he has it in him to revitalise the Labour Party and win the next election. Otherwise they would not bother.

  6. Rainborough on 27th August 2016 at 4:34 pm said:

    Having dominant right-wing media is a political choice, not an inevitable fact of life. Too many past Labour governments have supinely decided to live with the media hostility which is guaranteed by letting rich individuals and corporations own and control the media and push right-wing political values. One reason this has gone unchallenged is that right-wing Labour governments have themselves adopted such values and corresponding policies.

    More democratic structures are perfectly feasible. We should encourage the next Labour government to reform the media – for example as a series of one person one vote co-ops. Editorial policies can then be set by democratic vote, and not to serve the interests of wealthy proprietors and big corporations.

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