So, the Sun newspaper has decided to switch its allegiance and back the Tories in the next General Election. I guess they’ll be hoping to repeat their ‘It’s the Sun wot won it’ headline from Tony Blair’s triumph way back in 1997.
It won’t come as any surprise that I have no affection for the Sun at all – on two grounds: (a) I am a Scouser and I remember Hillsborough very well; and (b) it’s owned by Rupert Murdoch – whose son recently exposed the values of the family business.
In Helmut Schmidt’s wise reminiscences over a lifetime in public office and publishing, Ausser Dienst, he makes the following comment about what connects politicians and journalists (my rough translation):
Politicians and journalists live in an antagonistic symbiosis: one can’t live without the other. But they don’t particularly like each other and they observe each other with a mutual and deep suspicion. Yet they have at least two things in common. First, they have to speak or write today about subjects and issues that they won’t adequately understand until tomorrow or the day after; secondly, they are required to fascinate their audience at any one time. So, both professions are subject to the temptations – be they a glance at opinion polls or a look at the numbers. Both are part of the political class, but both professions contain the spectrum from statesmen to delinquents. (p.30)
I thought this was an interesting observation at a time when politicians are smelling the gaining or loss of power and when the newspapers, losing readers by the day, are attempting to increase and exercise their (waning?) influence over the political processes.
It can only be hoped that the British people might be mature enough to make up their own minds and to bring to what they read a critical eye that asks the questions of editorial motive, selectivity and fundamental assumptions.
Perhaps we do need to compel every child to do Media Studies after all – just in order to enable them to take an intelligent and informed part in the democratic process…