One media hack’s priceless reaction to falling public trust

Man with head in hands
Ed Sykes

On 24 April, Sky News released a poll showing people in the UK overwhelmingly distrust mainstream journalists. The survey looked specifically at trust in the media’s coronavirus (Covid-19) coverage. But the truth is that people’s lack of trust is so much more widespread. And it comes amid years of the establishment media failing to serve the public.

One media hack‘s response, meanwhile, seemed to sum up the establishment approach perfectly. Because rather than focusing on self-reflection or context, it simply lamented the situation as a standalone fact:

To be fair, he’s right. It is a disaster that there’s a widespread lack of trust in the people whom we’re meant to go to for accurate information. But without reflecting on the effect that utterly shameful media behaviour in recent years has had on this situation, it’s a pointless sentiment.

As Canary co-founder Kerry-Anne Mendoza put it:

Years of vile behaviour

Trust in the mainstream media has been falling for years, and people have long viewed the British press as one of the most ‘right-wing’ and ‘biased’ in Europe. That perhaps has something to do with most outlets belonging to and serving the interests of billionaires.

During the coronavirus pandemic, for example, establishment journalists have faced criticism for putting out pro-government propaganda. And the media’s treatment of former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in recent years has been a stark example of the media’s shocking behaviour.

A years-long smear campaign sought to convince British voters that Corbyn – a peace-prize winner and veteran anti-racist campaigner – and his supporters were somehow raving antisemites. Mainstream media outlets were cheerleaders for this propaganda, which helped to keep Corbyn out of power. The BBC – the country’s supposedly impartial public broadcaster – was right at the centre of these efforts.

Now, in the wake of the recent Labour Leaks scandal, BBC journalists have been eerily quiet. At the time of writing, for example, only one of the journalists on the BBC‘s own ‘BBC News Official‘ list on Twitter had tweeted about the affair (once). This is despite the same reporters on this list having frequently commented on internal Labour politics in recent years.

ITV reporter Robert Peston is another figure who has shamed the media profession in recent years. His hatred of Corbyn is such that he is still having a go at him now he’s on the backbenches:

Trust must be earned

Today, media hacks no longer have a Labour leader who threatens powerful interests. So they can get back to pretending like they’re actual journalists again.

But the cumulative damage, sadly, is already done.

It would be wonderful if we had a mainstream media we could trust to give us all the facts – regardless of any personal or organisational ideology, and with no spin. But unfortunately, that’s not the Britain we’re living in today. We live in a country where, in the midst of a pandemic (when holding the government to account is more important than ever), people simply don’t feel they can trust the establishment media to do its job. That’s a matter of immense concern.

We need to demand much better. And we need to participate in building a functioning alternative.

Featured image via geralt/Wikimedia

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  • Show Comments
    1. As far as I’m aware there are only two journalists working in the mainstream UK press, Oborne and Hitchens. The BBC employ no journalists worthy of the description.

    2. Disgusted, but not surprised by all of this.

      My own answer is not to subscribe to MSM papers and only to watch tv current affairs where I really can’t glean info. elsewhere.

      Taking a peep at the Sky Graph though, I see trust in Johnson appears hardly anything to shout about and Keir Starmer is in ‘the negative’ along with the press, albeit not to such a great extent. What happened to the ‘Starmer effect’ then, I wonder?

    3. Its the death of the establishment reflected in the Mainstream Media who think they own it.
      It is upside down what people find they voted for, and it is a disaster.
      However I’ve no compassion for their journalists suffering in silence, and their creation of an ensuing economic disaster which is overtaking the UK.
      Those who vote for liars, pay the price, along with everyone else who didn’t vote for them. I think that’s a problem with an entrenched well paid establishment. One feels one had no credible say in the press which was respected as an alternative. It’s become a one ideological outlook rule with little sense of what democracy means.
      Trouble now for not listening respectively, and taking issues to heart, and a economic disaster.
      The world is now too complex for one ideology to have all the answers.

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