Monday, January 02, 2023

Democracy, Dictatorship and Journalism

The style of governments is ranged on a spectrum between optimal democracy and the very worst dictatorships. 

Democracy is government chosen by the people that works for the welfare of the people.

Dictatorship is government by a tiny group of people clustered around one Leader who arranges things to benefit himself (it usually is a man) and his group. 

Democracy is what we want, dictatorship is not wanted.

For democracy to work the voters need to be as well informed as possible so that they can make rational choices. They need information that is accurate, truthful and unbiased as possible. 

So the media is integral to the proper functioning of democracy, and if the media is unreliable and biased to right or to left, democracy is undermined, becomes weak, and will drift in the direction of dictatorship.

So how are we doing here in the UK? Not good. Our media is strongly biased towards the right. 

As far as the printed news goes, people are reading 3 right leaning news articles for every single left leaning news article. That's right, 3:1. Times, Telegraph, Mail, Express, Sun, Star, all right wing, all putting Conservative political leaflets through the door every day. 

As for broadcast media, the BBC political and news channels are so far to the right that often Sky, ITV and Channel4 are more unbiased. BBC people will respond that they get criticism from both left and right, so they must be steering the correct course. That is such a thin argument it just shows that they do not care. 

If the BBC were interested in steering an unbiased course, they would commission arms-length Interruption Rate studies of their news programmes, and these would show objectively that BBC anchors routinely interrupt Tories far less than they interrupt non-Tories.

The dire state of British journalism mirrors the dire state of British democracy. In FPTP we have an electoral system that is not fit for purpose. We have an absurd House of Lords, an unelected Head of State, a Home Office that is well on the way to outright fascism and a chumocracy that is haemorrhaging billions of public money into the pockets of western oligarchs.

This will all change one day. Unfortunately it will not happen because enough people read enough well reasoned articles about democracy in the press, or anywhere else. 

It will happen when the Tories have well and truly run UK plc into the ground and people are so desperate that they ignore the Tory Press and bring about real change.

What change would that be? We need full, radical reform of our electoral, political and economic systems, but the media reforms we need are relatively simple. We need laws to change ownership so that the maximum number of new outlets that any one oligarch owns is one. Or possibly zero.

The other media reform is that corrections should be given the same level of prominence that was given to the original error.

Not much to ask is it? Considering the result is a fair press that is fit for purpose and underpins a safe and secure democracy.

No comments: