Thursday, February 07, 2019

Poor Journalism

The hypocrisy of the British press never fails to amaze me. Courtesy of my news aggregator, I see a fair number of tabloid headlines, (without having to buy the bloody things).  Of late I've noticed a lot of them have been highlighting the woes of people who find themselves on Universal Credit.  The focus always seems to be unfairness of the new benefits system and the unreasonable way in which it is administered.  Which is fair enough.  But what confuses me is the fact that many of these stories seem to be being run by 'The Sun' - a newspaper which has consistently supported the very Tory government which has been behind Universal Credit and the current benefits regime.  Moreover, in the past, I seem to recall, this same newspaper was one of the chief detractors of those on benefits, condemning 'benefits culture' and accusing claimants of being 'scroungers'.  Yet now we're supposed to believe that they are genuinely concerned about the plight of those unfortunate enough to be suffering under Universal Credit.  But, of course, it has nothing to do a 'Road to Damascus' conversion to decent human values on the part of the tabloid, rather than its need to avoid alienating its core readership - many of whom, (ironically considering the paper's right wing sympathies and contempt for the poor), are likely to be on low incomes and claiming benefits. 

As wages have stagnated and living standards declined under the Tories, so those claiming benefits have increased in numbers. At the same time, attitudes among the general public have begun to change, with more sympathy for the plight of benefits claimants, (after all, it could easily now be you forced onto benefits).  Hence, the shift in position on the part of some of the right-wing press.  Not that such a superficial shift will stop these papers from urging their readers to vote Tory next election, nor will it stop them from banging the drum for Brexit - something guaranteed to make the poor they are suddenly so concerned about even poorer.  But the press never like to take any responsibility for what they print.  They certainly don't want to acknowledge any possible causal link between what they print and events in the real world.  I'm always appalled when the tabloids lead with a story about women being raped and sexually abused, telling us how awful it is that any man could do such a thing and how appalled they are.  Yet they don't stop publishing all those celebrity trivia pieces featuring young female celebrities in their underwear or swimsuits.  They don't stop filling their pages with cleavage shots and 'nip slips'.  As if this objectification of women plays no part in the way some men end up viewing women.  But hey, it isn't the papers' fault, is it?  No, it never is.

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