Polly Today

Who\’s to blame, and what might be done? Culprit number one is undoubtedly the media, more virulent than in almost any other western democracy, with too many newspapers competing for a shrinking readership. The Mail\’s doom-laden poison pretends to speak for an imaginary "middle England", just as the raucous Sun pretends to speak for a fictitious "white van man", reflecting back to the nation mythical caricatures of itself. Mercifully, real people are nicer. Three maverick rightwing owners controlling most of the press set the tone and the agenda – bullying the BBC to follow them in the name of "balance", which the BBC too often does, uncertain of its own compass. Rabidly anti-European, socially penal, xenophobic, anti-state, they spread the simple message that nothing works except markets mitigated by punishment. Instead of breaking away, the dominant voices of the blogosphere often echo and intensify this pessimism and malice.

Sadly, she\’s still under the misapprehension that newspapers shape their readers\’ prejudices rather than follow them.


8 thoughts on “Polly Today”

  1. Instead of breaking away, the dominant voices of the blogosphere often echo and intensify this pessimism and malice

    No doubt Guida & Dale are also controlled by Murdoch (or giant lizards).

    Is it not possible that the relative success of the Right/Liberal spectrum of the Blog World is due to demand?

    We get enough lefty crap from the BBC.

  2. What’s the point of the bloody Guardian paying for this woman’s private medicine if she keeps forgetting to take the tablets?

  3. Do you think newspapers play no role in shaping their readers’ opinions? That no-one has ever read this site and changed their mind on something? Ok I’m not helping my case there – but I think it’s pretty obvious that newspapers can affect public opinion, look at the Mail and MMR.

  4. “The BBC doesn’t follow the centre/right-wing press enough – that’s the problem.”

    On the contrary, there’s very little difference between the BBC’s editorial agenda and that of the Times. It’s less right-wing than the Telegraph; less left-wing than the Guardian; and less gibberingly insane than any of the comics.

    Polly almost has a point here – the tabloids obviously pander to their readers’ politics, but they also pander to the worst side of human nature (specifically, our tendency to come up with simple and entirely wrong solutions based on prejudice. That isn’t a left-wing or a right-wing question – “free trade is taking our jobs” is just as much an example as “gays are disgusting and should be looked up”).

    Most people are capable of, to some extent or other, overcoming that tendency. Education helps to diminish it, but tabloid sloganeering reinforces it.

  5. What John B says. The Mail & The Express are quite terrifyingly awful. They completely contradict themselves all the time just to pander to the lowest common denominator on any random topic of the day.

    But if you try to imagine having a serious debate on e.g. free trade or gay equality, with some moron who actually buys these papers…

  6. I think that’s a little unfair. The papers do contradict themselves every day, but most readers don’t pay attention to a lot of that and buy it for other reasons (sport/gossip/crosswords).

    I for one read, if do not buy, the Daily Mail, most days and think I could manage a serious debate on those two issues, at least until you brought up the panacea of Land Value Taxation.

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