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the conservative spectrum

- - | 18.01.2005 18:51

In terms of circulation, these are the top 10 national daily newspapers in the UK:

The Sun 3.08 million
Daily Mail 2.30 million
Daily Mirror 1.62 million
Daily Telegraph 872,000
Daily Express 857,000
Daily Star 734,000
The Times 651,000
Daily Record 465,000
Guardian 334,000
Independent 226,000

Between them, and along with other news media like TV, radio and magazines, these papers largely determine the national discourse - what is said in the workplace, between friends and amongst family about politics and culture. It is a discourse which decides not only how we look at others but also how we understand ourselves. Ultimately, the information we digest, like the food we eat, shapes who we are and determines our health.

So what are we talking about? Each newspaper has its own political perspective and we like to think there is a broad spectrum of opinion and debate within the UK press. This is fantasy.

The UK news media articulates a very narrow spectrum of consciousness in which persuasive alternatives to the conservative programme of big business and its friends in government are excluded or degraded with smear campaigns, distractions, distortions, scorn, fear campaigns and yes, outright lies. This is the ideological monopoly, the ideological monotony, of our news media, of our national discourse, of who we are.

The first responsibility of the corporate press is not, of course, to reporting the truth of events but to generating profits:

"Legally, a corporation is owned by its shareholders and controlled by directors. In running the company, directors are bound by common law 'fiduciary duties [duties of faith]', the most important of which is to 'act in good faith (bona fide) in the best interests of the company as a whole'. This duty has generally been interpreted by the courts to mean acting in the interests of the shareholders; in turn, these interests are assumed to be maximising profits in order to pay dividends." (3)

With profit making as the prime directive, indeed as a legal obligation, it is against the interests of corporate news to report in a way which seriously challenges the myths of business as a benevolent force in our culture. Because these myth shattering views are not represented in the corporate press, it is possible to think they don't exist. But they do. Of course, this is just the way the the news-for-profit industry needs it to be.

There’s plenty of money to be made in this kind of news production but it has catastrophic consequences: the costs of fraudulent, vested-interest news are not met by the corporations themselves but deferred to foreign war zones and the privatized exclusion zones of the poor at home where their bland distortions wreak havoc. When it is profitable to go to war, when a war has been planned, costed and found to be good for business and jobs, when it satisfies the petty nationalist pretensions of newspaper owners and politicians or promises great personal fortunes, war is what you will be persuaded to support. The persuasion will be seductive, it will push all the right buttons: the flag, our humanitarian intentions. But from, beginning to end, it will be an exercise in population management. If you persist in rejecting this message, you will be subjected to a snowstorm of distraction by unaccountable, highly paid media preachers as the bloody story unfolds. It is called propaganda. It is a conservative dream. Of course ‘conservative’ no longer comes wrapped in party political colours.

If 'conservative' is defined as support for a free market, nationalist programme, the titles can be sorted into the following categories: 1. Jingoist: Daily Express, Star, Sun, Daily Mail, 2: High Tory: Times, Daily Telegraph, 3. New Conservative: Guardian, Mirror, 4. Liberal conservative: Independent.

All these titles, now support the government, either explicitly or by default. Debate is restricted to facile analysis of cabinet bickering and the totally artificial presentation of the Tory party as some kind of opposition.

Consider the consequences of the single opinion which dominates the national discourse. It took us to war and it will try to do it again. This is what conservative values do. The conservative media programme has given you governments and it is working even now to give you more of the ones it wants.

Ownership is an important issue here. The top ten papers are owned by seven companies. Four of these are fiefdoms run by media magnates: Richard Desmond (Daily Express / Star), the Barclay brothers (Daily Telegraph), Viscount Rothermere (Daily Mail) and Rupert Murdoch (Sun / Times). The others are owned by Trinity Mirror, Guardian Newspapers, Independent News & Media and Scottish Daily Record.

Would it be too much to believe that these magnates have a consuming interest in manipulating news to their own advantage – and to the disadvantage of the rest of us? What did Tony Blair promise to Rupert Murdoch shortly before the 1997 general election, for example, when he flew out for a meeting which gained the Labour Party the support of the Sun and Times? What of aristocrat Viscount Rothermere’s nasty little Englander newspaper or Richard Desmond and his racist, specifically Islamophobic rag? Vested interest the lot. My advice? Drag the national discourse into another world of possibility and ditch the conservative agenda once and for all.

1 Audit Bureau of Circulation / average net UK circulation 11 January 05


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Display the following 8 comments

  1. EXCELLENT ARTICLE! — Ozymandias
  2. so bored — - -
  3. Re: So Bored — Ozymandias
  4. nope — - -
  5. guardian — elbow
  6. Not Just The Nationals! — Captain Bob
  7. the truth is out there — SW reader
  8. world newspaper links — - -