Broad Oak: your emotional support animal

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The news media: the cock crows on the dunghill


I think it was William Morris who said that the first step in literacy was being able to read a newspaper, and the second was not to read one.

Liz Jones gives cause why in the Mail on Sunday: fashion "journalists" at London Fashion Week are given seats of honour, or pent-up "some several hundred feet above the action", according to their willingness to toady; but a vengeful article by the victim gets results: "I was couriered a fabulous gift of perfume, shower gel, body lotion and chocolates (vegan, hopefully), and a handwritten note from Stella herself. Was this an apology? Or a bribe so I would play nicely next time?" (Both, obviously.) Sir Philip Greed gives her a light touch of the whip, saying he would have sent her a lovely olive coat for her review of TopShop - until he read the last para. Designer houses mark coverage by the glossies on a points system - nil for blacks and fatties - and so on, in a litany of bribery, schmoozing, banning and sacking. I think Jones is one to watch: when she finally tears her gaze away from her navel in the back pages of You magazine (there is a hopeful reticence about her human relationships this week), she might yet prove a Samson and bring the whole unholy edifice crashing down.

Meanwhile, Toby Young has taken the Murdoch shilling - as he boasts in the Spectator - and dutifully produced some wallpaperese in the new Sun on Sunday. His bet's on education sec Gove for PM, the free-schooler opines, entirely without any consideration of how (one of) his interests might in any way be congruent with Gove's (or Rupe's). Like so many of our modern celebs, Young has recognized the power of brazenness, adopting "@toadmeister" as his Twitter ID. And like former transport minister Stephen Byers, he's a "bit like a sort of cab for hire", only it's more acceptable in journalism, or so he seems to think: "(Go on Private Eye, stick me in Order of the Brown Nose. See if I care)", sez 'e in the Speccie, a magazine I now read principally because of Jeremy Clarke's luminous column (shame they let go Christopher Fildes and Mark Steyn, among other talent).

Young's is the authentic voice of the new Fourth Estate establishment: offensively triumphalist. Like the bankers who've ruined us, the yacht-visiting politicians who've sold us out, the rich who've looted us. These have learned how to manage news and opinion: dining with, leaking to, treating, flattering and employing the writers who (like the ancient bards) can foster or wither reputation. By and large, the newshounds have been luxuriously tamed, their necks enclosed in velvet collars with silver chains. There are exceptions, like Peter Hitchens, serving but to prove the rule; as "Anastasia" in his latest piece on Russia says, "The only rational conclusion is despair."

4 comments:

James Higham said...

Have a feeling that had something to do with media celebs and Twitter. Do we know this Toby Young?

Sackerson said...

Look up "How to lose friends and alienate people." Also Wiki entry. But he's just an example, a touchstone if you will.

James Higham said...

Ah.

dearieme said...

Cicero is the exemplar.