We have to address media monopoly
Take a step into Westminster square and what surrounds you are the buildings at the root of the failings of British Society. Buildings stained with the sweat of corruption, seeped in lies, and burnt egos. It’s 7pm, on the Thursday 17 May, and the square is empty, apart from a few paparazzi that stand outside the Westminster Methodist Hall, waiting for the entry of Hugh Grant, who is booked to speak at the Rally for Media Reform. I sit outside, waiting to head in, staring at the grass before Parliament, turf that’s seen protest rage for generations. But it now stands empty, fenced up, in preparation for the Olympics, the impending doom of a city in the spotlight of the world looming over the landscape.
That same sense of doom resonates when you read the newspaper media. The headlines scattered with tales of murder, violence, adultery and state corruption. But how did we get to this state? How did, the fine, aristocratic censored world of the British Media fall off its high horse and end up scraping at the gutters for stories?
The figures that join Hugh at the Rally, read like a list of the who’s who of radicalised politicians, journalists, and writers. Owen Jones, Harriet Harman MP, and ex-crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames all fill the bill, who amongst others, Tom Watson included, vow that this is the start of change. “As it is at the moment, the media is like saying a public hanging is good, because it draws a crowd,” says Richard Peppiatt of Hacked Off – the organisation behind the rally – making a poignant analogy that sends most of the audience buzzing to their Twitter feeds.
So, how do we change a corrupt media? Do we debate and fractionalise, mount armies against the empires of News International and the Mirror papers, and boycott? Or do we just find something better?
“People around the country are starting to realise this is more than just phone hacking. It’s the corruption of democracy,” says Hugh Grant, but his turn of phrase is steeped in irony, as is the whole event. From the paparazzi that wait outside, to the activist undertones that supersede the message of the speakers. Don’t get wrong, this rally is important; it’s the coming together of individuals who can actually be active in making real change, but the cynic bites.
See, it’s funny, in the eyes of the news empires the speakers are against; these people are terrorists, dangers to the state – new radicals with new ideas, who push the principles of protest and direct action. But is that such a bad thing? With the media in the state it’s in, a community of people radicalised to new ideas, new ways of seeing the operational media might actually work. After all, this whole commotion comes from the naivety of the general public.
I for one welcome the new publisher, the internet medium. Web media allows good stories to be told instantly, without any political hindrance or brand iconography. If there’s something worth seeing, or reading about, you’ll most probably find it through Twitter, Facebook or the other such channels. It can be visual, or written – a photo, a video, or a blog. But it’s always one step ahead, and its contributor list is in the billions. So, why are we sitting and waiting for paper media to reform, while we have a platform to replace it already existing in digital form?
It’s sad to know this room is preaching to the converted (and the Hugh Grant fans, admittedly) calling for public uprising against this state of oppressive journalism. But it’s any wonder that the real story is why The News of the World was the biggest selling Sunday paper in Britain, its influence of the general public far outnumbering the others.
Harriet Harman sees the solution in stopping the invincibility and impunity of the media. “The problem is a sense of invincibility amongst the Murdoch Empire. Behind the, the rest of the media followed suit,” she says, “they broke the rules, but know there’s no system in place that would do anything about it,” she says, “We have to address media monopoly”.
“Our lives and my family will never be the same because of the Murdoch led media,” concludes Jacqui Hames, breaking down on stage.
As a young journalist with aspirations in his heart and dreams of an interesting media, with nice stories, and tactile reporting, I don’t know where to stand. Maybe I’m dreaming too far.Tagged in: harriet harman, Hugh Grant, Jacqui Hames, media, Murdoch, news of the world, Rebekah Brooks
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