Monday, February 23, 2015

Know Your Enemy

"In its purest form, a newspaper consists of a collection of facts which, in controlled circumstances, can actively improve knowledge. Unfortunately, facts are expensive, so to save costs and drive up sales, unscrupulous dealers often 'cut' the basic contents with cheaper material, such as wild opinion, bullshit, empty hysteria, reheated press releases, advertorial padding and photographs of Lady Gaga with her bum hanging out. The hapless user has little or no concept of the toxicity of the end product: they digest the contents in good faith, only to pay the price later when they find themselves raging incoherently in pubs, or – increasingly – on internet messageboards."

Charlie Brooker, writing about the mainstream print media all the way back in 2010. The reference to "advertorial padding" has particular contemporary resonance, given Peter Oborne's recent criticisms of the Telegraph. One letter-writer to the Guardian, Jeremy Horder, has suggested that there's a case for arguing that journalists who have been swayed by advertisers are guilty under the Bribery Act - and he should know, "as a former law commissioner for England and Wales, responsible for the 2008 Reforming Bribery report that led to the 2010 act".

(Incidentally, the existence of Brooker's piece is further evidence that Dean Burnett is very much following in his footsteps, having recently published an article about the "addictive and probably carcinogenic" effects of the Daily Mail...)

(Thanks to Simon for the letters page link.)

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