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Newspapers Reviewed

I do love stories like this, where you just know that the Daily Mail is going to pick it up and have a field day ranting about ‘wars on motorists’ and ‘rip-off Britain’, and at the same time the broadsheets will pick it up to have a bit of fun with it.

The Dublin Airport Authority has voiced regret after an ambulance waiting for a seriously injured patient was clamped by airport police.

You have to love how seriously the Daily Mail takes itself. The thrid story on it’s homepage right now is Help! My son’s locked in a suitcase. And the copy reads just like a parody:

To a boy of three playing hide and seek, the suitcase in the corner seemed like the ideal refuge.
But it turned out to be a prison.

As Tiger Fawley climbed into the rigid, watertight case, the lid slammed shut, trapping him inside.

The fourth story under the clearly widely defined category of news is about teens not knowing the price of milk. Oh, and it’s £1.51 for six pints at Tesco, so put me in the ‘knows’ category please. Also making a front-page appearance is The man who is allergic to his girlfriend.

The top story, as if you need to ask, is about Michael Jackson’s influenza.

There’s nothing on the front page of the site at all about the suicide bombing in Beirut, Tory immigration plans, or the latest in the Ken Livingstone row. Can’t imagine why they wouldn’t want to cover the latter. What was it he said?

Although we uniquely have some brilliant newspapers and first-rate journalists, their standing is dragged down by what must be some of the most reprehensibly managed, edited and owned newspapers in the world.

They have a disgraceful record, none more so than the Daily Mail

When it was first set up [in 1896] its first campaign was against Jewish refugees coming to London from the pogroms. It continued its anti-Semitism in the 1930s, fighting any proposals that Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler should be admitted to this country.

Had Britain lost the war and had the Nazis controlled Britain, Lord Rothermere and his cohorts would have been at the front of the queue of collaborators.

In truth, my problem with the Daily Mail is not its politics, nor even what it covers (which is lucky, because otherwise I’d be close to agreeing with Ken Livingstone). The Sun, The Mirror, and the Daily Star cover very little actual news as well, yet I have no problem with any of those. The Daily Mail gets my goat because it likes to present itself as well above its station. The red-tops do their job, and they’re aware of their role and have a slightly tongue-in-cheek attitude. The Daily Mail likes to present itself as a respectable paper, when, in actual fact, it is clearly anything but. This is no more clearly displayed than in their celebrity coverage, where they are frequently outraged and appalled at the celebrity culture, whilst also covering it in the closest detail (as I’ve already discussed in relation to Big Brother – in fact, if you do a search on ‘Daily Mail’, you may begin to wonder whether I’m unhealthily obsessed). And that’s the secret of its undeniable success, and also why it is so dangerously powerful.

Back to the quality media: Having read The Times a couple of, erm, times recently, it has picked up somewhat from its quality for the first few tabloid (sorry, compact) editions. It’s still very much in the deplorable format of one story per page, hung around a graphic, but at least the journalism is back at the standard where it should be, and the front-page banner creep has been stopped. And the Murdoch obsession seems to have been reigned in just a little (though it’s still clearly present).

The Grauniad is making the best move in the down-sizing game, by becoming a midi. That way, it carefully side-steps the problems with the tabloid format, whilst also being a bit more manageable. The problem is the considerable length of time this is taking them. The only thing that’s been worrying me since the announcement was made last September is this:

Most importantly, from the reader’s point of view, it will not leave the Guardian’s journalism untouched, particularly in the manner and tone of presentation.

The Guardian’s tone is one its great strengths. To change it would be suicide.

This post was filed under: Miscellaneous.

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