Not the 9 o’clock news

A bit of a different topic from the usual today, but this morning a couple of things brought together my musings over the last couple of days about journalism (or sensationalism as it appears to be these days), and personal responsibility as it applies to the press.

First it was Radio2’s pause for thought (inspired by Clark Kent quitting his job at the Daily Planet) and then I saw this photo (http://tinyurl.com/d225mhx) on facebook.  I have seen this story do the rounds before and it has always had me nodding away in agreement.

When we were clearing the house after my Grandfather died, we found an old newspaper from 1983 that had been lining the drawers of a bureau.  There was not one mention of a “celebrity” unless it was in the sports or entertainment pages.  There was actual news reported in it’s pages (you know, international interests, politics – and not just sensationalist politics – and changes in the law “Police no longer allowed to remove women’s bras during a search” and things like that).  The way the Royal pregnancy story has been handled is a case in point.  Yes, it will do great things for all sufferers of hyperemesis gravidarum to have such a high profile case covered in the news.  Yes, it is nice to have a “good news” story once in a while.  Yes, they are Royals and can expect a certain level of media intrusion, but where is the sense of decency and compassion.  Not only is Kate dealing with a serious medical condition but she is also less than 12-weeks into the pregnancy where there is risk of miscarriage  which is increased with the complications of the condition.  Leave the girl alone.

Strange to think that a nearly 30-year old newspaper can seem like a breath of fresh air in journalism.  I think the Independent Press Commission that is being set up should look back at newspaper archives from the ’80s to find their example of how Journalism should look in the future.

However, the face of journalism will ultimately be determined by what the public demand by purchasing the tabloids (and even the broad-sheets these days), the glossy magazines and reading the online stories.  Yes, there is public outcry at the Paparazzi chasing down celebrities, or saucy photos of celebs being sold to to papers by so-called friends or fellow party-goers… but then the media where these photos and stories are published fly off the shelves or receive huge numbers of online hits.

The only way that journalism will truly stop finding these stories good materiel to publish is if we the public stop providing the demand for them.

I stopped buying glossy magazines and have tried to avoid the worst of the celebrity stories (other than ones that are reasonably news-worthy, births, deaths, marriages, significant happenings that are responsibly reported) since about 2006/7 when the Britney Breakdown was going on.  The stories printed about that just made me feel sick – there were people literally ambulance chasing for this story when the poor girl (however rich or famous) was sick.  You wouldn’t harass someone with cancer the way they harassed her and mental illness is just as valid and serious a condition.  I also try and avoid reality TV like the plague (unless I’m watching Strictly with my nieces) but that is also because I miss decent TV drama as well as the whole “celebrity culture” thing.

In my small way I am “using my personal super powers for good” and not creating a demand for these stories.  If enough people stop reading these types of stories then maybe journalism can return to the days of News rather than Celebrity.

Rant over.  If you have stayed to the end, thanks for “listening”.

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