When it comes to reporting the British Press have perfected the art of bearing all in the national interest. The biggest question I believe lies in what is really in our interest, and what is to our detriment.
The Leveson Inquiry is sitting right now to try and establish the scale of the blame that falls at the feet of the press when it comes to standards of professionalism. It is interesting to note that while the world focuses its attention on the role that the press have played in eves dropping on the lives of the rich and famous, those that have become unwilling stars in the media spot light or the people whose lives have become the focus of national interest, I have to wonder why no one is asking to what extent the press actually keep us informed for the best interest.
Allow me to demonstrate my argument. Anyone who has done a business class at school, college or in university is taught that when you enter into a negotiation you keep your cards close to your chest. It is basis common sense that when you sit down to win a contract, get a job, buy a house, you never let the other side know everything about your position. If half the companies that deal with each other knew the truth of their potential partners position, the multimillion dollar deals that keep the world turning would never happen.
If half the employers around the world knew the real truth about you and me, they’d never employ anyone. If when you went to buy a house, the potential buyer knew your true intentions for your purchase, would they be so readily willing to complete the deal?
No, the truth is that you keep your weaknesses hidden, you keep the illusion of ability firmly in your favour, and you work to create an impression of ability or capability as the case may require. In this way you win the contract, get the job or close the deal on your new house.
So why the hell would the British Press take such great pleasure in advertising to the world that Britain is very much in reality on its last legs? It is strange to me that in this hour of need, when the reality is that we should really be pulling together in the national interest to try and win credibility and respect for Brand Britain, we are so readily willing to sit by and watch the press sell our nation down the drain.
Mr Cameron went to the Brussels summit last week severely handicapped as he sort to strike the best deal possible for Britain. How the hell could we seriously expect France or Germany to take us seriously when all they had to do was watch British telly to see clearly how desperate the British economy are for European stability? Can we even begin to realistically expect a good result when we’ve shot ourselves in the foot by openly admitting that without European partnerships we are finished?
It’s little wonder why Mr Cameron was ignored. He’s sat at the table fighting to get the best for Britain when everyone around the same table knows that he’s got nothing to offer. The city of London was once the financial power house of the world. In these trying times it would seem only right that we strive to keep that attention focused on the FSTE stock exchange.
There was a time when if it was on the FTSE, Dow Jones, or the Kikkei stock markets, then it was a mark of stability, strength and reliability. I agree that the banks were allowed to take stupid risks and bring the world to the brink of a global depression, but that ability to create a world of plastic credit was driven by our greed and consumerism.
Fifty years ago if you wanted it, you saved up until you could afford it. In the 21st Century if you want it you put it on plastic. It is that desire of ‘I want it and I want it now’ that gave the banks the green light to create this world of intangible debt. We knew through the media in 2005 that the debt ceiling was rapidly approaching One Trillion pounds. Did we slow down?
The press were quick to shout to the world that Northern Rock was in difficulties causing a run on a British bank for the first time in a hundred years. There was evidence that the treasury were already aware of the situation and had realised it would need to step in to save the bank, so was it really in the best interests of the nation to create the hype in the media that attributed to the run on the bank?
The press are seasoned veterans at creating a villain out of a criminal. Ok let’s not forget that criminals are a scourge on society to that I agree. They damage society and wreak havoc on innocent individuals. They cost our society an stupid amount of money in the costs associated with Law and Order. They are in very simple terms exactly what the press would paint them as, villains.
My issue here lies in two concerns with the attention that the press give to criminal activities. Since time in record, mankind has had a fascination with crime, death and punishment of criminals. So it is little wonder that when a crime is committed, the press scramble to sensationalise the affair. However how often do the press stop to consider the impact of their reporting on the people whose lives are affected by the actions of the criminal, but are not the focus of the media’s attention.
Criminals have families. In some cases the whole family are effected by a criminality and there is little cause for concern. But in the majority of cases, the families are just as innocent as the victim of the crime. Yet they are forced to see the content of their lives, home, family pulled apart in the eye of the national tabloids.
News report after news report we are reminded in vivid terms of the sordid details of the crime as the press scramble to make every report as juicy and controversial as possible. My question lies here. What impact does the incessant attention on a crime have on the wider families and friends of the criminal and victim? How many lives are ruined forever by association with someone that they have no option to be associated with?
In point of case, the Raoul Moat incident. What about the family of Raoul Moat, who have committed no crime, are not associated with the preparation or criminalisation of the man, but forever have to now live with the vivid portrayal of a disturbed and unbalanced man. Let’s look at the victim’s families. The family of his girlfriend will forever be haunted by the graphic images on her murder through the lenses of a news camera.
Or the family life of the police officer who was shot. We are now aware that the officer was recently arrested for allegedly beating up his wife. Was that as a result of the continuous reminder through the media of his nightmare? How is a family, a victim or those associated with the people affected meant to get on with their lives when there is a consistent habit of rehashing things through the media?
What is the long term effect of this media attention on people’s lives? Is it really necessary to delve so deeply into the lives of people and dissect, analyse, report on every speculation, suspicion, theory or rumour pertaining to a news story? What is reporting the news, and sensationalising the news really all about? What is it really in the public’s best interest to know? How much is too much?
Freedom of the press is a freedom that is given attached to great responsibility. The press should be an arm of service to the national interest, and it should be governed with a view of humility and a duty of care. The press should be a source of enrichment to our lives, a reliable deliverer of information that enhances our society, keeps us informed and builds unity in our communities. Disinformation is a disservice to our country. Being so fixated on reporting every little thing ultimately hurts our nation’s ability to be strong. There is a fine line between too little and too much, and it is at the heart of journalism to tread this line careful consideration to the impact of a news item. I can only hope that one of the outcomes of the Leveson enquiry is that the press come to realise that they have lost sight of their role in society and make measures to reform. Right now the attitude of the press is incorrigible. The time to break that cycle of stubborn resistance to change is now. The press can become a tool for powerful good in Britain. It’s up to us to see that we force the establishment to see reason and take action today.