A nurse dies because somebody played a ‘prank’. It doesn’t matter who, we’re all guilty. We allow tabloids to dictate our lives, I’m not sure if it’s a chicken and egg situation or a vicious circle. Do they print stories about the Royals because we want to read them or do we read them because the papers print them?
A rich, privileged, pampered, married woman gets pregnant and The Evening Standard had the first five pages dedicated to the ‘story’. God knows how many The Sun or Express or (wash my mouth out) The Daily Mail had. Five pages, five pages in a regional paper, five pages. Will Jacintha Saldanha get five pages?
A while ago, I was in a café skimming through a red top, I couldn’t make head or tail of the headlines or the few words underneath purporting to be a story, it could have been written in Newspeak or Welsh. The first four or five pages were devoted to Lily Allen on holiday. It took some time before I realised that that was the story, no scandal, just a rich young lady on holiday somewhere warm, that, together with the indecipherable headlines left me feeling as if I lived outside of society. I don’t watch soap operas and I don’t read newspapers, particularly tabloids, I watch football but I don’t care about their private lives. I closed the paper and decided that it wasn’t any of my business. I’m not interested in Lily Allen, her music is insipid, but since then I’ve felt sorry for her.
Growing up I don’t remember that we ever had a regular daily newspaper, The Sun made an appearance, but I’m not sure whether my dad brought that home from a site he was working on at the time or if it was delivered. On Sundays, I remember that we had The News of the World, The Sunday Mirror and The People, The News of the Screws was a broadsheet in those days and I would be sprawled across the floor reading the football reports and the cartoons, serious newspapers were not part of my life.
For a few years I bought the NME, I devoured it, did the crossword and marked the gigs to go to, but it never translated to a regular newspaper habit. In my first job, at a printers, I would buy the The Daily Mirror on the way in and read it during the tea and lunch breaks, this was before Robert Maxwell took it over and as it changed I drifted away. When I moved to London. I would buy The Evening Standard, more for an excuse to leave the office and get some fresh air, but again it faded into the background, I flick though the weekend papers, read the sports’ pages then leave the bulk of the waste of a tree unread. I always have a book on the go, sometimes two or three, but newspapers…
I’m no royalist (to say the least), but a few months ago with the papers filled with Harry living up to the public schoolboy stereotype and acting like a upper class twat, my avoidance of newspapers feels justified, it wasn’t news anymore than Lily Allen being on holiday was news, being an outsider seems to be the sane place to be.
And this week the papers covering a pregnant woman as if it was news (I believe there are situations in The Middle East and Northern Ireland, that might qualify as newsworthy) we should follow Merseyside’s example and boycott, not just The Sun, all newspapers, one week would do it.
Billy Bragg says it far more eloquently than I can:
Note: this is rewritten, reposted old blog, I apologise for the repeated rant. It will happen again.