Tom Daley has come out. This is fantastic for him, he’s a very good-looking man and I know my sister is gutted. But the fact that this is ground-breaking news is profoundly disheartening; the journalistic equivalent of the leading story being ‘Russell Brand is straight’.
The other sham raping the nation’s front pages recently has been the uncovering that Nigella Lawson has used cocaine a couple of times and smoked ‘a couple of joints’ (i.e. she’s gone to a few good parties). Therefore this is an outright plea to Britain’s newspapers; let us know some actual f**king news.
Newspaper readership in Britain is as such: The Sun is this country’s most-widely read newspaper (with a circulation, since 2000, of 2,409,811), followed by The Daily Mail in second (1,863,151) and The Daily Mirror (1,058,488) in third. With this being the situation, The Sun and Daily Mirror need to do two things: they need to put the important news on Lucy Pinder’s chest and they need to move on from the times when their leading stories came from Piers Morgan staying up late and playing with our phones (rumours have it that his phone-hacking skills once bagged him a job as a representative of the NSA, holding the prestigious title of ‘Napalm Sucking Asshole’). Whilst this is all happening, The Daily Mail needs to try dropping the homophobia, maybe the racism too, so that we the people have more vehicles for attaining a greater knowledge of the challenges facing both our species and our planet.
There’s a war going on in the Central African Republic at the moment. Who knew? The probability is that not all of us do. Syria remains torn and broken to its core by a brutal Civil War, but our media has decided to look elsewhere, the relationship status of a diver is more important than one of the century’s hardest-hitting humanitarian crises. Although I try my best, I myself unfortunately remain oceans and oceans away from being aware of all the key news stories, and only Stephen Fry comes close to knowing everything. But the point is that often I find myself, as is the case with many others, rather disinterested in a lot of what we call ‘news’. For all I (and most of us) care, Reverend Paul Flowers can go and be the Miliband’s main meal on Boxing Day, Nigella can give them ‘a couple of joints’ to level out afterwards and One Direction can tattoo swastikas over their faces, and would any of us be better off knowing?
The focus on celebrity distracts many of us from what is actually going on in the world. Imagine if the collective attention and effort that we as a people put into watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians was instead put into getting to grips to what is actually happening and where we are going. I’m a big Arsenal fan, but imagine the same scenario with sports? I’m obviously not suggesting we boycott playing/watching sports in any way; I’m just putting ideas out there. Watching the World Cup draw last week, all I could think of was how much it reminded me of the premise of The Hunger Games, that an entire people are being fed the grand distractions of sport and celebrity to guide them away from the goings-on dictating their lives. The Romans used the violence in the Coliseum to offer its plebiscites a respite from the burden of work, how different is sport today?
When we pick up a paper, each and every one of us deserves to be told the truth. Throughout history the media has been the prevailing force in colouring consciences, shaping zeitgeists and moulding minds. So I ask, to our dearest newspapers, please focus on using paper (ideally recycled, of course) to report the news, i.e. noteworthy information. Not bullshit burps of glitzy gutter.