I’m no astrophysicist, but I can give you some facts about The Sun: it rises in the East, sets in the West, and operates with no regard to the principle of journalistic integrity. That last one might be construed as an opinion, however I feel confident enough to put the idea forward in light of their coverage and provocation of the BBC presenter witch hunt a couple weeks ago.
In another blow to the BBC’s reputation, Huw Edwards was named as the presenter accused of paying a young unnamed individual for explicit images following days of speculation. Exact details about the case are still unknown (thus I won’t make any unevidenced accusations, nor will I defend him), but we do know that the investigation being conducted by the Metropolitan Police was closed as they found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
The intrinsic flaw with tabloid media is the click-fuelled advertising which finances it
Until this was announced, readers of The Sun might have believed the contrary due to the way in which it was reported by the paper. They have since claimed that their original story never “alleged criminality”, yet the headline they published on 9 July reads “Top BBC star who ‘paid child for sex pictures’ could be charged by cops and face years in prison”. If being sent to prison for purchasing indecent images of children doesn’t suggest criminality to The Sun then I dread to wonder what does.
Despite their history of journalistic misconduct, worshipping The Sun is still shockingly common. It remains one of the UK’s most read papers alongside its equally ugly cousin The Daily Mail. The Sun’s legacy of misdemeanour runs deep, from their notoriously shocking coverage of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 that blamed fans and victims for the incident, to their more recent involvement in the phone-hacking scandals which has had them dishing out millions to hush up.
The intrinsic flaw with tabloid media is the click-fuelled advertising model which finances it. It encourages the public to be misled by exaggerated titles, dubiously cropped photos and an excessive usage of capital letters, just so they scroll further and further to load more and more ads. In comparison, the BBC offers a more stable and responsible source of information that helps to clarify what can often be a disorientating sphere of information. The lack of a paywall also makes access universal and inviting, a quality that is often understated.
I can’t argue against the fact that it is necessary to permit the cesspool of speech that is tabloid media to exist. Not doing so would threaten the freedom of our press. It just really ought not to be one of our most widely read news sources.
The already minimal pluralism of our media is at stake
Yet Rupert Murdoch’s press seems hellbent on increasing their grip on the public’s attention. This recent scandal is yet another new entry into their project to bring down the so-called ‘Beeb’, and it shows how low they are willing to sink in order to do so. Not only have they lied to and misled the public, but they have also unduly compromised the wellbeing and privacy of Mr Edwards and other BBC presenters who wrongly found themselves in the line of fire. It seems as though they will use every deplorable tactic in the immoral fibre of their being to achieve their goal of having the BBC gone or at least substantially weakened. After all, the void that it would leave for them to fill in Britain’s media market is substantial.
It’s a wide conspiracy that involves the rest of Murdoch’s media conglomerate and a number of right-wing MPs who are arguing for the revocation of the BBC’s broadcasting licence. Some of them have found a home on GB News, with MPs such as Jacob Rees Mogg and Lee Anderson taking second jobs and hosting shows to further espouse their undesirable opinions. It’s hardly surprising that this kind of collaboration is occurring. The corruption may be crossing party lines too, with opposition leader Keir Starmer cozying up to the media emperor, no doubt in an attempt earn his apparently election-winning patronage.
I hope my position is clear. Billionaire-dominated press will continue to hold integrity in contempt in order to advance its own private interests. The already minimal pluralism of our media is at stake. It should be said that the BBC is not without its own flaws, and is in need of reform and introspection, but the fear of our media climate becoming akin to that which we can observe across the pond, where reliable news is hard to come by, is all too great.