Why I don't start my own tabloid

Here's why I don't start my own tabloid newspaper or buy an existing one, in one easy to access post.

I'm not stinking filthy rich.

The end. Thanks for reading.

Not really.

Of course, I could have been filthy rich if I'd inherited an existing media empire from my father to build on, like Viscount Rothermere (Daily Mail) and Rupert Murdoch (who now owns The Sun, The Times and many more), but I didn't, so that route's not open to me.

I'm not sure I have the instincts and lack of principles necessary to become filthy stinking rich, as I might have to do something like become a pornographer, selling magazines like Penthouse, Big Ones and Asian Babes and owning satellite channels like Television X that promise pervy viewers hardcore action but offer nothing of the sort because that's illegal. That clearly didn't bother Richard Desmond (Daily Express, The Star) who did just that before buying his papers, and still owns Television X and Red Hot TV. I wouldn't have the same lack of principles to allow me to donate £100,000 to the Labour Party like Desmond either. Whether I was going to produce a paper that takes every opportunity to slam the Labour party or not.

If I were filthy stinking rich, that might change the way I look at the world and make me tempted to produce a newspaper that protects the interests of the filthy, stinking rich by - oh, I don't know - publishing articles that attack people on benefits as scroungers while completely ignoring the amount of money lost to the economy by very rich people indeed owning very large companies indeed registering their tax details overseas to rob the economy of far more very year than cheated from the exchequer by benefit cheats.

I might get the idea that the main aim of owning a newspaper is to sell as many copies as possible to attract as much money as possible from advertisers, because no paper could keep afloat without advertising revenue. This might make me and my editor reluctant to print news that attacks large corporations that provide a large chunk of revenue.

I might then hire only editors with a similar worldview as mine, favouring maintaining a system that benefits the stinking filthy rich like me. Those editors might deliberately produce articles they know to be untrue, even if the paper they're editing is supposed to be left-wing. Like Roy Greenslade, former editor of the Daily Mirror who has since apologised for producing inflammatory and untrue stories about Arthur Scargill during the miner's strike.

They might decide to 'crusade' for the abolition of the inheritance tax - a tax that applies to the richer people in society - in favour of cutting benefit payments to the poorest, for example. This would be especially ironic if I'd inherited the beginnings of my media empire from my father.

Since my editors shared my view of the purpose of publishing a newspaper, we might decide that we should sell as many copies as possible regardless of whether what's in it is newsworthy or even true, especially if we got it into our heads that everyone thinks a certain way and wants to hear certain things.

My editor might prioritise reflecting the view of the paper's readership over everything else. Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, in last year's Cudlipp Lecture, said:
At their best, popular papers – that are far more sensitive than politicians and opinion polls to national moods - articulate the anxieties, apprehensions and aspirations of their readers. Genuinely democratic – I mean, you try persuading people to fork out 45p for a paper on a rainy day - they give voice to millions of ordinary people who don’t have a voice.
But what if evidence emerged that suggested public opinion on a subject was wrong? If my editor was anything like Paul Dacre, they would decide to ignore that evidence, or pretend it said the opposite to what it actually did since it's more important to him to reflect his readers' opinions than tell them the truth.

Not to be outdone, Peter Hill, editor of the Daily Express, in an interview with the Independent, said:
My job is to sell the Daily Express. My job isn't anything else. My job is to produce newspapers that people want to read and I can tell you that people want to read about the Diana conspiracy because the figures tell me that they do, seriously tell me that they do.
If my editor were like that, he might decide to go with headlines that will be likely to sell rather than be newsworthy, or even true. If he thought the purpose of his job were to sell my newspaper and he decided people wanted to read anti-immigration stories he'd give them anti-immigration stories whether they were accurate or not.

And as to what Sun readers actually want, Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor and current columnist of the Sun, is infamous for apparently saying:
You just don't understand the readers, do you, eh? He's the bloke you see in the pub, a right old fascist, wants to send the wogs back, buy his poxy council house, he's afraid of the unions, afraid of the Russians, hates the queers and the weirdoes and drug dealers. He doesn't want to hear about that stuff (serious news).
He's also infamous for producing articles attacking the Liverpool fans at the Hillsborough disaster that turned out to be untrue. Presumably because that's what he thought his readers wanted to hear.

Even if I ran a left-wing paper, my editor might be tempted to run stories without adequate checks, and we'd end up publishing photos of soldiers mistreating prisoners in Iraq that turned out to be fraudulent, because we thought it was more important to tell or readers what they wanted to hear than make sure we were telling the truth.

We'd then get into a weird chicken-and-egg scenario where I was producing newspapers that I thought reflected the views of my readers but couldn't be sure if my readers thought those things because they'd read the distorted stories in my paper of if they'd just absorbed them like osmosis. I'd be under pressure to produce stories about how left wingers want to ban Christmas, say, but because nobody's trying to ban Christmas I'd have to rely on repeating old urban legends, or pretending that things done at Christmas for health and safety reasons were actually done so people are not offended.

I'd be even more tempted to ignore or misreport new evidence because I didn't think my readers wanted to hear it. I'd be so desperate for any validation of what I thought my readers wanted that I'd use information sources that aren't really robust and wouldn't in the past have been worthy of press coverage. These sources would be encouraged to carry on doing what they were doing
because papers like mine used them and we'd get caught in a feedback loop with people believed stuff that isn't striclty true because they read it in my paper, which led to my paper producing more stuff that isn't actually true because I thought that was what my readers wanted and on and on forever and ever.

It isn't actually true that all new jobs since 2004 went to migrants. It isn't actually true that Birmingham City Council has renamed Christmas 'Winterval'. It wasn't actually true that Muslim yobs ran brave soldiers out of their home. It isn't actually true that research showed that 50% of Poles wanted to stay in the UK for life. I could go on. The more people who read this kind of tripe, the more people will believe it. This will have an effect on the way they vote, and the way hey treat each other.

So why don't I attack the left wing papers on this blog? Because they're not as dangerous. They don't sell nearly as many papers and don't reach nearly as many people. If a large number of people think there are too many migrants in Britain and that idea is pushed by the right wing tabloids, it matters if those sources of information aren't telling the truth. Also, when I do look at them, they're more guilty of parroting stuff that's appeared in the right wing press than being guilty of their own howlers, so I don't look at them often. I have limited time here. And I have even less of a responsibility to be impartial than any newspaper.


neil said...

Thinking about it for a moment, if we are overrun, outnumbered and generally under the whip hand of all these millions of foreigners, who the hell is buying all these xenophobic newspapers?

Five Chinese Crackers said...

It's the famous silent majority. The ones who all agree with Littlejohn but never tell anyone. Or even vote appropriately, it would seem.