The Backlash Against Emily Maitlis Just Underlines the Problem
The UK has an almost entirely right-wing news media ecosystem, so much so that some might view it as a snake pit. National newspapers are almost entirely owned by multimillionaires, if not billionaires. Most daily nationals do not make a profit from newspaper sales but are dependent on rich manipulators of culture to keep them afloat and the advertising spend of big, often highly unethical businesses.
When I trained and worked in newspapers, advertising sales staff were segregated from journalists, for good reason — to maintain editorial independence. But editorial manipulation by advertisers and non-editorial staff has been known to happen. In too many cases, ‘propaganda and PR tool’ is a more accurate description than ‘news’ paper.
Given that it isn’t cheap to run newspapers, it should be of little surprise that many daily papers are owned and run by rich men — and given that money-hoarding power-wielding old men tend to be not just right-wing but extremely so, it should come as no surprise that the tools of propaganda they own tend to reflect that shadowy political position.
Luckily in the UK we are not entirely dependent on this slithering pit of self-interested vipers to tell us what’s going on. Long before the internet (which has its fair share of slithering dishonest vipers), we had the BBC. The broadcaster was established at a time when people routinely lacked much of an education — and a troubling number couldn’t read or write. With a founding mission to ‘inform, educate and entertain’, the BBC started with laudable ambitions and should have, over its 100 years of existence, been sharing truths that the rich manipulators who own much of the newspaper sector would wish to bury.
It is hard for me to know if there was ever a time when the BBC was genuinely neutral as I grew up during a period where a war in (and against) much of the north of Ireland was euphemistically called ‘the troubles’ and when Gerry Adams, the leader of the main political party opposed to British rule, had his voice replaced on BBC by a squeaky man who sounded like an agitated Mickey Mouse on helium. I’ve often heard people claim the BBC is left wing for simply having the audacity to question Tory politicians, including when a well-informed citizen was allowed to…