Saturday, February 06, 2010

Looking On The Bright Side

This week’s Economist magazine examines the concept of ‘broken Britain’, the contention that the country is ‘going to the dogs’ and comes to a surprising conclusion: overall things are better than they’ve ever been and it’s largely the fault of a sensationalist media that the public take such a doomed view of their lives.

Now, journalism, especially UK newspaper journalism, has always been full of doom and gloom. And this in turn influences other journalists. And naturally, moaning and groaning is the lot of bloggers, including the authors of this website, so this isn't an affliction restricted to the professional media.

In the US things tend to be reversed, where newspapers on the whole, tend to be held to a higher account of veracity whereas channels such as Fox News are able to display any editorial balance their editors and owners deem fit.

At a time when everyone is questioning the value of journalism and contemplating charging for content, this becomes a very important issue. The tendency is to become more competitive and more sensational in order to justify the charges being levied: the news gatherers become the news makers and the agenda is set on our screens not our ballot boxes. The Pulitzer v Heart newspaper wars that stoked the coals that lit the US Spanish war is a lesson from history (and there are plenty of other examples).

We are all more media literate today, but the pervasiveness of the negative news agenda is worrying.