Now and again – well, quite frequently, in fact – Twitter gets itself in a froth about something. This weekend the little corner of Twitter that I inhabit has been exercised by Rupert Murdoch’s new Sunday newspaper, the Sun on Sunday. People are slating the (apparently) two million people who are going to buy it, whilst one person threatened to unfollow anyone who bought it.
Now, I’m unlikely to buy this paper to be honest. Not because it’s bad – I wouldn’t know, I’ve never read it – but because it is an extension of the Sun and thirty years’ experience has told me that I don’t like that paper. A friend of mine assures me it has the best sports coverage, so maybe I would buy the SoS if I liked sport. However, I’ve no real criticism of the people who will buy it. In fact, I rather like the idea that so many people will buy something to read at least once a week.
Our society is a broad church of cultural tastes. I find it inexplicable that anyone would watch more than two minutes of ‘Come Dine With Me’ or buy Krispy Kreme doughnuts. But people do enjoy those things and as long as I won’t be forced to join in that’s fine by me.
What does concern me is the unregulated behaviour of some of the institutions that interact with our society. Murdoch’s business empire is one of those and I wonder how many of my fellow tweeters who were lambasting him this morning have a Sky box in their living room?
But even when it comes to the press, he is hardly alone in his bad behaviour. A few years ago a teenage pupil took a knife into the school at which I’m a governor. She bragged about it on the bus and another pupil notified a member at staff. The girl was approached and spoken to and she surrendered the knife. Then the police were called in. By the time this reached the national press, it was the police wearing stab jackets, who had been called in to disarm her. The stab jacket, of course, is part of the regular uniform.
It was the most shoddy piece of journalism I’ve ever read precisely because I knew the facts. It’s the sort of thing that one associates with the late News of the World. The paper in question, however, was the Daily Telegraph.
We need our news to be accurate and free from bias and interpretation, except where writing is clearly marked as comment. That news should be obtained legally, too. We have an institution to monitor this called the Press Complaints Commission, which consists of the people who run and work for those newspapers. For as long as I can remember, people have complained about how toothless, hypocritical and ineffective it is but nothing has ever been done about, presumably due to politicians’ respect for Murdoch. And by respect, I mean fear.
I think it’s wrong to criticise people for buying the Sun on Sunday. It’s moral bullying by people who don’t stand up to Murdoch in other respects. What we need is a strong PCC and for that we need people to lobby their MPs and force the government – *our* government – to do something.