The British media have lost the plot



Every day, the same old circus, with the same old clowns. Beth Rigby. Robert Peston. Adam Boulton. Jon Snow. Clogging up our television screens from morning until night; sour-faced, self-satisfied and cynical. A bilious orgy of pusillanimous, nonsensical obduracy. The same asinine questions. The same flaccid ‘gotchas’. The same crushing bad faith and complete rejection of impartiality. What, frankly, is the point? 

The British public have had enough. Trust in journalism is at an all time low. Exasperated by the increasingly flimsy and partisan coverage, ordinary people are switching off in their droves. To paraphrase the proverbial schoolmaster, the mainstream channels have not just let themselves down, they’ve let us down, and the country down, too – and they deserve six of the best and a Saturday afternoon detention.

But what did we do to deserve such awful coverage? I’m afraid there’s a simple answer to that: Brexit. Well, Brexit, and voting Conservative last year.

They hate us for it. They hate us for having the temerity to reject their worldview, not just once, but over and over again. And the result, sadly, is that they have become completely incapable of doing their jobs properly. Impartial broadcasting? Sorry, but it’s not happening. 

I am, as the more nimble minded reader will no doubt have deduced, a Conservative and maybe, therefore, I should simply be happy that the Tories are romping ahead in the polls – and it’s irrelevant what the BBC or Sky or Channel 4 says because nobody listens to them anymore.

Hmm, perhaps. But, actually – no. News matters. Journalism matters. In a free society, we should have a strong press holding the government, and the opposition, to account. We should have fair-minded, unbiased reporting, generated by reporters who take pride in their impartiality, not glint-eyed partisans who giggle and obfuscate, and think it’s a jolly jape to stuff their programmes with left-wing activists.

There is a place for commentators, of course (hell, I am one). And there is nothing wrong with reporters who clearly sign-post their points of view. But we also need incisive, considered, non-partisan journalism, and all journalists who proclaim they provide that should take that responsibility extremely seriously. Brows should be furrowed. Sources rigorously researched, and properly sign-posted. The story disseminated without endless student common room asides and “huh huh huh aren’t we clever” gotchas. Gotcha journalism is the lowest form of journalism, just as Frankie Boyle is the lowest form of wit.

Perhaps 24-hour News is to blame. Perhaps Twitter has turbo-charged the problem. But that is still no excuse. Working anchors (I resisted the portmanteau) like Boulton and Roooooobert Peston and Beff should focus on accurate reporting, not belching up their latest tepid takes. We do not need to know their views. And we do not need their own sour prejudices to curdle everything they do.

They say we get the politicians we deserve. Well, maybe. But, at the moment, we are not getting the media we deserve. 

We are in the midst of a national crisis. Everybody needs to raise their game. And none more so than the British media. 

Tim Dawson is a writer and journalist and the Editor of Free Market Conservatives. Follow him on twitter: @tim_r_dawson