Editorial: Media Distractions
The vicious competition among the media institutions, of the electronic as well as the print varieties, has led to ugly expressions of journalistic enterprise. No priority is given, in this competition for readership and audiences, to the devastating effects of capitalism on the working class, with serious investigations, analysis and reporting outlining the cause. Instead, following the American example, journalism in Britain has been increasingly devoid of real reportage. This is a general trend to spiral down our world in almost every area of human activity to a cheap and shoddy impression of its, not too bright, former self. Talking too much about the real issues facing the working class or about ecological and other problems caused by the profit system would draw too much unwanted attention on the system ideology and accompanying practices of the capitalist world. Instead whether on the TV, radio or in print, news stories have tended to feature mainly a mixture of crime, tittle-tattle, sex, sleaze and all things fetid, as well as the political posturing of the main political parties in parliament in their pursuits at home and abroad with accompanying comments from toadies in the columns. Both the BBC and ITN main national news bulletins have become the Sun, Star or Daily Record on wheels. Now of late we can add asylum seekers and terrorist scare stories to their compilations. Here certainly the capitalist dogma that competition improves the competing organisations’ service and products has been disproved. It is the opposite that happens. We should not forget that this style of news menu is easy and (dirt) cheap to produce.
Crime (with terrorism) is a major plank in the programmes of the main capitalist political parties. This is despite the fact that it has been elevated by their media tools to an extent completely out of proportion to the number of individuals taking part in crime. As well as providing an opportunity to sensationalise the story to excite (and entertain) and attract new readers or viewers, an opportunity is happily taken in conjunction with state authorities to highlight by example the due consequences awaiting anyone that might be tempted astray into crime in the future. We are of course brought up to detest crime as a violation of the rights of others. Empathy among workers who suffer or are likely to suffer crime is conjoined equally with a hatred for the criminal, which unfortunately generates a variety of punishment cries from the armchair judges.
Child molestation, a charge facing Michael Jackson, has in recent years come into its own as a major news topic, with one newspaper naming past offenders and providing their address, with monstrous consequences for them. And while the incidents are indeed horrific for the child and parents when proved to be real, the fact remains that a very small proportion of individuals are likely to practice this crime. Catholic priests are highlighted as one of the main offenders. This is hardly surprising, with the fact of them being ordered to remain celibate perhaps having some bearing on the behaviour of offending priests, a behaviour which might well have gone on for as long as the Catholic Church itself, and not a recent development, as the media would suggest.
In the capitalist world, famous individuals have enormous influence over their fans or followers, hence the honours systems where this influence is nurtured by a State to reflect the existing ideology in practice. Although, when a famous individual is off-message then that individual is seen as some kind of threat. Michael Jackson – pop icon to tens of millions of humans all over the world – has annoyed authorities and the media with is attitude to mixing with children. It might be of some significance here that he is reportedly connected to a radical black separatist group whose leader, Louis Farrakhan, a hate figure among the British and American establishments, was banned from entering the UK a year or two ago. Jackson has provided an easy target in that he has form in the eyes of the authorities, media and members of the public for acting out of the ordinary and thus has been nicknamed Whacko Jacko by many.
The consequences for human society of the daily production of these scare stories and sensationalist reporting is further alienation between humans of all ages. A society that makes adults wary of approaching children while placing children’s mothers on edge is not good for human relations or wellbeing.