Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Tittle-tattle news

As have I; Richard North, EU Referendum, has posted in days gone by on the ineffectual ability of the newsprint media to bring their readership "news".

Taking today's Daily Telegraph; as examples - and I have no intention of linking to the various stories highlighted as those with a print copy can do their own "linking" - consider:

Front page: We learn that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will, in the course of their visit to Canada and the US, visit a rodeo and Hollywood and during the course of the latter may bump into some stars.

Page 3: Alan Titchmarsh advises that: "Talking to plants is useless" and on the same page we also learn that adults with depression, anxiety or low moods can ask their GP for referral to an NHS funded trial for gardening lessons.

Page 4: "Bomb experts face growing threat to their mental health" - Military doctors have found evidence that EOD experts personnel are at greater risk of mental health problems because of their dangerous work.

Page 5: "After Essex, the only way is a hot bath" - A producer on a reality show felt contaminated  after meeting characters on his show. Yup, met a few of those in Oxfordshire too - and one suspects there is a similar view held in Westminster!

Page 6: "Daleks to take a break from Dr. Who" - they are to be sent into temporary exile after decades of being Enemy No1.

Page 8: We learn that Ukeleles are back in vogue as sales increase.

Page 9: "Muscle Men: Greek statues a true likeness" - it appears that Bettany Hughes, an historian, believes that men really did look like those depicted in statues and consequently had taut six-packs!

Not wishing to bore readers rigid, let us move on to page 16 and the op-ed piece and here we find in residence Mary Riddell - which seems a most suitable example with which to highlight the inadequacies of what purports to be a serious newspaper.

For a newspaper that attempts to present itself as a serious 'broadsheet' the Daily Telegraph seems to be providing an imitation of the Sun. What has happened to a newspaper which, during the 1950s, was just that - a serious newspaper, one who employed writers proud to be called journalists; a newspaper that presented unbiased reports of events in this country and the world at large; that carried reports of events/debates in Parliament (actually to be fair, at that time we did have politicians whose utterances were worth reporting).

Has the Telegraph gone the way of banks and in so doing, providing a crap service?

Oh, hang on - just realised, different Barclays..................


Sue said...

It's got really dismal. I used to like reading it, now I might as well read The Sun or Express.

PeterCharles said...

An interesting question which some academic somewhere may actually have an answer to.

I gave up buying a newspaper in the 1980s by when they had virtually all transformed from newspaper to adult comic, but I learned at school in the 1960s that our newspapers were all politically biased. Indeed the Daily Telegraph has been firmly of the 'retired Major' mould Conservatism for around a hundred years. Although it was founded by a certain Colonel Sleigh in 1855 to air his personal grievances against Prince George, Duke of Cambridge and minor royal, the then shortly to be Commander-in-chief of the British Army.

Anyway, the question is what has caused the deterioration so that newspapers now consist of 'entertainment', a combination of a purient fixation with 'celebrity', working class prejudice of the worst kind and mindless pap with a smattering of actual news, usually unquestioningly cut and pasted from establishment or corporate press releases.

I can only assume that there was no longer a mass demand for proper news. That would certainly mesh with the attitude of the current biggest UK political party, the 'stay at home, ignore it all and don't bother to vote party'. And with the way the decline in television has followed newspapers in much the same way.

Or perhaps it's all the evil Murdock's fault, after all he was the one who first gave us the 'tit' in titillation every day.

No, I think the average person simply is no longer interested in quality news, quality TV programming, or anything else that requires actual thought and the media is simply reacting to that.

Which makes it very sad for the likes of us who do want unbiased news, preferably comment and opinion free, as well as quality TV etc. The thinking man has become a minority, too small even for a niche market.

A K Haart said...

Tittle-tattle is also cheap to churn out when times are hard, circulation keeps falling and profits hard to come by. The great days of daily newspapers are over. The ship has sailed.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Sue: Exactly! But the thinking man/woman is crying out for a quality news media...... (and I believe a market for that exists)

PC: Thank you for a most thoughtful comment - and one I can but echo in it's entirity! Re your penultimate paragraph: only due to the 'brainwashing' and 'social engineering' that the politicos have managed to impose on us!

AKH: Agreedm, totally!

Edward Spalton said...

Having been a reader since the Fifties, I wrote to the editor of the Daily Telegraph several times over a couple of years, complaining about the dumbing down. I actually changed to the Express a while before it came out for leaving the EU. The editorials were getting noticeably more Eurosceptic all the time. One big plus for the Express is that my wife likes the crossword puzzles, Sudoku etc - keeps her busy for ages!

I still usually buy the Sunday Telegraph for the sake of Christopher Booker's column - and my wife also likes their crossword puzzles etc! Terry Wogan has a cheery column too.

But I could dispense with both and manage with the internet perfectly well.

Woodsy42 said...

How dare you denigrate the importance of bread and circuses!
But isn't it just depressing! Don't look at the Mail on line it will drive you suicidal. One hypocritical moralist rant and 50 or so celeb articles (usually in beachwear).

PeterCharles said...

WfW I am not too sure about ... only due to the 'brainwashing' and 'social engineering' that the politicos have managed to impose on us!

I, and I presume you, forgive me if I am wrong, grew up in the 50s and 60s when the difficult days of WW2 and its aftermath were still a part of public consciousness, the average working family had almost no disposable income, most people were highly self-sufficient able to 'grow' their own vegetables, paint, decorate, maintain and repair a motor car, replace a broken window, cope with simple plumbing and electrical repairs and so on. The war years had also built a generation of self-disciplined people generally respectful of authority provided it reciprocated with traditional British common sense and fair play.

Don't get me wrong, it certainly wasn't any kind of Utopia and as the eventual post war economic boom started to provide a degree of affluence there was a clear public desire for change. As is typical, we went completely over the top and not only threw out the baby with bath water we chucked the towels and the bath with it as well.

Boosted by their apparent success in national provision and organisation during the war, in their own eyes, at least, as history shows that to have been a myth, success depending more on luck than judgement, the Establishment turned government from a facilitator to a provider, initially the eponymous welfare state of cradle to the grave provision followed by the social democratic model adopted by every party since 1951. It is this, in my view, that has been our downfall, both culturally and economically. Every time one accepts a service or provision from the government you are giving up control of it, you have to accommodate to the whims of the provider, you are no longer a customer, you are a supplicant.

I don't know if you can really call the Establishment manipulations on the back of welfarism and social democracy brainwashing, it seems more a case of demagogic pandering to me, and as for social engineering, well it really started around the 1850s and while it had little real consequence it had generally done more good than harm up until WW2.

There is no doubt you can have too much of a good thing, of course, and the effects of modern social engineering particularly in the areas of political correctness and education have been truly malign.

I suppose what I am trying to say, very inadequately, is I am not sure if these things were done with intent or if it is simply that old friend and bane of everyone, unintended consequences.

TomTom said...

The Barclays Bros. have a poor reputation of newspapers. Remember Robert Maxwell's "European" and what they did to that ? It could have been a quality paper like the German "Die Zeit" with proper journalism and intellectual grasp.

The DT has tried to copy The Mail and to gain tabloid circulation by changing content not format. Newspapers should be free since they are simply propaganda sheets for lobby interests and no money is spent on Photography or News Gathering.

I tend to flick to Richard North for News or to Google News to see the headlines, then to foreign sites. TV is so dire - SkyNews simply promotes Soccer and the BBC follows suit.

Al-Jazeera gives some better coverage - but newspapers like Spiegel are more fun and I no longer think of wasting money on Pippa-Bottom publications

Anonymous said...

I barely read the Telegraph now; it's just full of guff and leftist crap masquerading as a 'right of centre' viewpoint. The only things worth reading are a couple of the blogs - Delingpole and Ed West mostly.


WitteringsfromWitney said...

Thanks to all for the comments so far.

ES: Concur, especially with your comment re the ST.

W42: Agree.

PC: Actually I grew up in the 40s and 50s, so presume I am a decade in front of you, but I digress...

As ever another thoughtful comment. Perhaps brainwashing was the wrong word but then I am no wordsmith. Brainwashing/social engineering/whatever, it is wrong. Unlike you, I do believe that the move from facilitator to provider was deliberate, coupled with the known point that anyone put into a position of power will attempt to take more power.

TT: Good comment yet again. Now I tend to purchase the DT purely to search for crap examples of journalism. Having said that, as mentioned by ES above, on a Sunday the ST is worth the price for the pleasure of Christopher Booker and Wogan

A: Agreed too.

Bill Sticker said...

Only bits worth reading in the ST are some of the blogs, the finance pages and the motoring supplement on Sundays. The rest is fluff and recycled press releases.

You're right about Barclays for crap service.

PeterCharles said...

WfW: I agree the change from facilitator to provider was deliberate, but were the results also intended or simply consequences?

If you recall when the NHS was created no one realised or even envisioned how science and technology would transform medicine. I doubt more than 10% of what is curable/treatable now was possible then. And I think it was a real belief that universal health care would eliminate most of the health problems of the time with considerable benefit to the country's well being.

Similarly with state pensions, the average man was dead within six months of claiming their pension and his wife was likely to follow him within the year, not as now survive another 15 to 20 years.

Again with education, the intention was laudable, skim off the top ten percent of truly intelligent kids for Grammar school and university to prepare as professionals and scientists and get the rest ready to engage in the trades, building houses, operating lathes and specialist machines, running electrical wiring and plumbing water and gas supplies etc.

Once a combination of insufficient funding and a teaching establishment that insisted on teaching academic rather than practical courses in secondary moderns ruined the secondary modern part we changed to the comprehensive system, equality of expectation, equal access, fair shares for all and the rest of the ideological crap. All very nice and liberally-lefty but in reality, babies and bath waters again.

Government is serially incompetent, always has been and always will be by its very nature. I do not think it was the intention to create an unthinking society only interested in celebrity fluff, stifled by irrelevant and unnecessary regulation, or saddled with 20% of the population leaving school illiterate, innumerate or both and with an average attention span of ten minutes.

Are political correctness, social inclusion, multiculturalism and all the other things that have debased our culture and society intentional or are they the consequences of a government/Establishment desperately flailing around for something, anything, that works, but simply digging the hole deeper and deeper?

Well, whether we agree on this or not, one thing I'm sure we all agree on is that government should be forced back to the role of facilitator, provision is beyond their ability.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

BS: Agreed!

PC: You make good points, as usual - however cynic that I am, I tend to stick to the idea that socialism only knows and wishes 'control' and therefore the changes made were deliberate.

You are right on the NHS and what the politicos don't seem to realise is that the technology and medical knowledge gained is still attempting to be managed by the old socialist methods. Years ago they should have introduced a compulsory medical insurance scheme.

On your penultimate paragraph I believe it is a combinationof both, a combination involving pc and social engineering coupled with politcal dogma.

Totally agree with your last paragraph of course!