Currently a major scandal perpetrated by one UK newspaper involving a once highly-respected BBC presenter is dominating the so-called news. It appears that the high reporting standards that were once obligatory did not apply to a story that, by implication at least, suggested that the personality had broken the law.
That the right wing press in the UK is pressurising political parties is another story doing the rounds. Also circulating is the apparently sound suggestion that mainstream media companies want to close down the British national broadcaster – the BBC.
That the BBC presenter was not named in the original story but was swiftly identified on social media is a factor that has wide implications for what is left of the mainstream media’s future.
Mainstream newspaper sales have plummeted in recent years and the one that published the story – currently the best selling newspaper in the UK – that has not led to police action but has left a star career in tatters may be facing punitive legal action and, more likely, significant loss of sales.
Looking more broadly at today’s news, Finland’s Finance Minister has had to apologise for racist remarks in a blog 15 years ago. A former US marine has filed a lawsuit accusing Fox News and its former anchor man of promoting false claims that he was a government agent who instigated the Capitol riots.
Just one day’s worth of mainstream media activity. There is nothing new in this for public figures, especially politicians. There is a solid recent history of rubbishing public personalities. Often, perhaps more often than not the information upon which flagrantly hostile stories is based is questionable.
The public are voting with their feet in terms of buying newspapers or subscribing to broadcasting media. The BBC, facing serious questions about its reaction to the latest, apparently apocryphal story, has a long history of political bias.
The world is a long way from the days when journalists were instructed not to let their political views influence their reporting. The days when opinion was labelled exactly as that.
Democracy is under pressure from poor reporting and biased coverage of issues. Politicians are also guilty. Another account published today is about leading politicians in the UK flocking to a media magnate’s drinks reception in order to gain favourable coverage.
The BBC personality referred to but not named until today in what appeared to be a largely false story was however named on social media and, apparently taken into hospital with mental problems as a result.
Thereby lies the problem: the mainstream media that used to be regarded as a pillar of democracy is sinking into the quagmire of social media that really is a threat to democracy and law and order.
Gossip mongering has always been a socially unacceptable activity. It is now big business and just as unacceptable.