Stop reading the news?

Mark Pack has the article/book review on his web site – see link below:-

Well firstly, I stopped reading national newspapers a long time ago. My only exception is 2 or 3 times a year, if I know I’m going to have a long time to kill for some reason, I will purchase a copy of the i.

I take the view that newspapers, whilst they can be informative, are quite often used to peddle the views and prejudices of their owners and if you read them for long enough those views and prejudices will more than likely become your own! I always take with a pinch of salt anyone starting a conversation with the phrase ‘I read it in the Daily Mail, The Express etc. etc. They may well ‘agree’ with whatever they read in their newspaper of choice but seem not to have realised that they have been fed a story, which fits with their prejudices but which may well be far away from reality.

I also hate news (and TV news comes into this as well) which tells me something but gives little or no background as to why and how it happened. Sound bite news I call it and it’s worse than useless.

Newspapers – I love this definition of their ‘duty’ in a free society

A line delivered by Gene Kelly in the 1960 film, Inherit the Wind. Kelly (E.K. Hornbeck) says, “Mr. Brady, it is the duty of a newspaper to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”

Sadly, I suspect that many in the press these days see their job almost in reverse i.e. Comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted.

With thanks for Cllr. Jen Robertson for digging up the quote which actually goes back well beyond the version used in this film.

The origin of the quote is this from a late 19th/early 20th century American writer Finley Peter Dunne:

“As a journalist in the age of “muckraking journalism”, Dunne was aware of the power of institutions, including his own. Writing as Dooley [one of his characters Mr. Dooley expounded upon political and social issues of the day from his South Side Chicago Irish pub and he spoke with the thick verbiage and accent of an Irish immigrant from County Roscommon], Dunne once wrote the following passage mocking hypocrisy and self-importance in the newspapers themselves:

“Th newspaper does ivrything f’r us. It runs th’ polis foorce an’ th’ banks, commands th’ milishy, controls th’ ligislachure, baptizes th’ young, marries th’ foolish, comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable, buries th’ dead an’ roasts thim aftherward”. “

Who reads national newspapers these days?

I ask as I don’t and probably haven’t for 15 years or more, what’s more many of the folks that I know don’t read them either. Gone are the days when your work colleagues would all walk in each morning carrying a national newspaper. Now the odd copy of the Metro is all that is likely to appear because Joe or Jane comes in on the train.

Yes, we all notice some of those who are retired nipping out for their daily choice of biased news from whichever red top suits their prejudices each day. But do people under the age of 55 bother to gain news from such sources any more especially as it is filtered and spiced up to suit the perceived leanings of each publication’s target audiences?

Which begs the question why do TV news and current affairs programmes seem so keen to do reviews of what national newspapers are saying, usually with the help of a celeb’, politician or indeed a journalist. Sky News and BBC News 24 love to fill the space between their endless repetition of daily news events with such reviews but a programme like Andrew Marr’s on a Sunday morning very much leads on what the press think and what others think about what the press thinks.

You get the impression that newspaper reviews simply fill TV voids these days as most of us get our news via the www’s. I can’t imagine buying a newspaper now except if I am going on a long rail journey, for example, and need something to read.

So do TV programmes review newspapers simply because they always have done, because it fills a void or, in the case of commercial TV, because they want to highlight a newspaper that is part of their company stable?