The Grenfell Tower fire has been a focus of controversy among critics of the mainstream media – but notice that this image from The Guardian doesn’t even feature the website that raised the political questions around the blaze: Vox Political [Composite: Bryan Mayes].

This wasn’t even a good try: The Guardian just tried to restore confidence in the mainstream media (MSM) with an article whose most trustworthy part was the result of a poll (and you know how This Writer feels about them) showing nobody trusts the MSM.

It states:

According to communications agency Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer survey of 1,500 Britons, the number of people who said they trusted British news outlets at all fell from an already low 36% in 2015 to a mere 24% by the beginning of 2017. The 2017 Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute, published in June, found that just 41% of British people agreed that the news media did a good job in helping them distinguish fact from fiction. The figure for social media was even lower: 18%.

Disingenuous, that. The figure for social media is low but rising; that for the MSM is low and falling. But the Graun won’t want you to know that, because it has a story to push (not tell; push):

Veteran media commentator Raymond Snoddy says: “What we’ve seen this year is that ‘mainstream media’ has changed from a general description into a term of abuse. We’ve seen trust in media ebb and flow over many years but there’s been nothing like this before. There is now a completely different way of self-manufacturing and distributing news outside of the mainstream. These new outlets can be very diverse and exciting, but they exist outside any conventional sense of journalistic principles – of fact-checking and at least trying to get it objectively right.”

That is simply untrue.

This Writer is a trained, qualified journalist. I work in the social media, I check my facts and I try to get them objectively right. I know there are others working in the social media with similar qualifications and aims.

Mr Snoddy’s comments are symptomatic of a mainstream media that is trying to fight back, and is happy to use underhand tactics to do so.

The claim that we are unqualified adds momentum to the claims of those who would try to discredit us. Look at the false claims of anti-Semitism that were levelled against This Writer after I investigated the allegations against Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker and found that they had been targeted by unscrupulous political operators who had their own reasons for doing so.

According to The Guardian, I suppose, that makes Vox Political one of the

new, conspiracy-minded outlets

of which it writes.

Rubbish. It makes us awake, aware and critical – something that The Guardian should have been, and should have been encouraging.

Look at Grenfell Tower – one of the focuses of the Guardian article. This Site was the first to single out the disaster at Grenfell as a political failure – and I was right, wasn’t I? Look at the furore that has gripped the country since it happened, over the reasons it happened.

Look at the senseless deaths of thousands upon thousands of sickness and disability benefit claimants who have been subjected to pointless reassessment after pointless assessment, creating stress beyond their bodies’ tolerance to withstand, by a heartless Conservative government that wanted them to die when its first duty was to care for them. I was the one who submitted the Freedom of Information request to the government and campaigned for years to force the Department for Work and Pensions to surrender the figures.

Those are just two examples of the social media getting facts right – from This Site alone. Hardly a “conspiracy-minded outlet”, then!

But the Graun has a story to push – that social media stories about MSM political bias are myths, and that the most popular social media sites can’t be trusted.

So the paper wheels out the claims that the BBC has a bias towards the Conservatives, and once again rubbishes the accusations against political editor Laura Kuennsberg. The trouble is, we know that the BBC is biased in favour of the Conservative Party. The Graun mentions Nick Robinson’s treatment at the hands of Scottish Nationalists, without pausing to admit that he might have deserved it. Oh, and the top BBC news executives mentioned in the story at the other end of that last link? All Conservatives. Theresa May’s current communications chief is Robbie Gibb, formerly the BBC’s head of operations at Westminster. He got the job after fellow BBC newshack James Landale withdrew from competition for it. And Ms Kuennsberg is a Tory, and was rightly criticised for being unable to keep her political preference out of the newsroom – so campaigners who called her out for it were attacked as sexist.

There is one decent point in the Graun piece: That far too few journalists in the mainstream media are carrying out a proper apprenticeship in local news reporting nowadays, and that the need to be self-financing these days means reporting – and commentating – now has very little ethnic diversity about it.

As Ian Katz, editor of the BBC’s Newsnight, admits,

“It’s plainly the case that shows like ours could benefit from a greater degree of diversity… not just ethnic diversity but of background, class and education. It’s a criticism that hurts because it’s got some truth to it.” Viewers need to see people on TV who look and sound like them if they’re going to be confident in what they hear. Katz describes an endless battle to ensure that Newsnight discussion panels are not solely composed of middle-aged white males. “If you were in here, you would see us with our heads in our hands looking at the guest list going, ‘This is ridiculous’.”

But I don’t see Mr Katz looking for guests from the social media! Apart from Kerry-Anne Mendoza, who attracts more criticism than praise from the Graun.

Admittedly, if This Writer was invited onto Newsnight, I’d be just another middle-aged white male. But there are many other good social media reporters. And, to be honest, they are starting to appear on mainstream TV.

Perhaps they would receive a more open welcome if the MSM as a whole would just stop trying to trash them.

The social media have the answer, you see, and I’ve already mentioned it.

The answer isn’t to try to convince people that the mainstream media are trustworthy and they should go back to sleep and let papers like the Graun tell them what to think, because that isn’t going to happen.

The answer is to do as This Writer advocated above – encourage more people to be awake, aware and critical. To think for themselves.

Then the MSM won’t be able to get away with attempts to sell us a pup like this Graun piece. If the price of lying is derision from the masses – and abandonment by them – then it will cease to be economically viable.

So wake up, people, and demand better. Or just abandon the MSM for social media sites like Vox Political, because we’ve already taken over as the reliable source of news and commentary.


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