The corporate press pack just descended into disgraceful farce

Boris Johnson and the corporate press pack
Steve Topple

The corporate media descended into farce on Tuesday 13 October. Because the public were once again subjected to the worst kind of journalism. It’s one where supposed professional reporters are little more than Tory lapdogs.

Client journalism in full swing

As ‘Client Journalism’ Expert pointed out, several corporate journalists shared similar tweets. It was a comment by one of those now-infamous ‘government sources’. The quote was in response to Labour leader Keir Starmer’s press conference:

 

“Client journalism” is where the government uses reporters for its own agenda. Peter Oborne wrote about this for openDemocracy. He noted an example where both BBC and ITV political editors Laura Kuenssberg and Robert Peston quoted an unnamed government source in 2019. Here the news they put out was, as Oborne said, “fake” with no basis in fact. But the two corporate journalists pushed it anyway.

Oborne explained why this happens. He said corporate media outlets:

yearn for privileged access… And they are prepared to pay a price to get it.

This price involves becoming a subsidiary part of the government machine. It means turning their readers and viewers into dupes.

This client journalism allows Downing Street to frame the story as it wants. Some allow themselves to be used as tools to smear the government’s opponents. They say goodbye to the truth. Social media has provided new ways of breaking the boundaries of decent, honest journalism.

The situation with Starmer and those tweets is another perfect example.

Doing the Tories’ bidding

Evolve Politics noticed that Tory Party chair Amanda Milling shared the quote:

And this is exactly the problem.

Corporate journalists are effectively doing the Tories’ work for them. Let’s be real: Starmer is a mess as Labour leader. But it’s the Tories’ job to call him out – like Milling did. It’s not the job of Westminster journalists to franticly report ‘sources’ slagging Starmer off. This also works the other way round. Journalists shouldn’t be quoting unnamed Labour sources either. This kind of playground gossip and ‘he said, she said’ is not public interest journalism. It’s creating stories for the sake of creating stories. And to these journalists, it’s all a game.

Full-on Trumpian

Oborne said that he “found it hard” to get his openDemocracy article into “print”. Presumably, he meant the corporate press. Which sums up the issue best. Corporate media in the UK has become little more than an arm of government. Take the scandal over Kuenssberg’s ‘postal votes’ comments during the 2019 election. Or her and Peston apologising for sharing a fake story over a Labour activist punching a Tory advisor. Because in both these cases, they cited unnamed sources.

Yet corporate journalists carry on like there’s not a problem. They have permanently scarred the UK media’s credibility As Oborne said in 2019:

British political journalists have got chillingly close to providing the same service to Boris Johnson that Fox News delivers for Donald Trump.

The media has now crossed that line. And it’s unlikely to come back from it.

Featured image via Sky News – YouTube, liarpoliticians2 – YouTube, BBC News – YouTube, Sky News – YouTube and MP’s Newswatch – YouTube

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  • Show Comments
    1. Plus ca change. We’ve all read Chomsky. How do we get to the mass of people? They, as Chomsky says, know nothing and don’t know they know nothing. That is, about the things that matter, the facts which are kept silent. How do we reach them? We have to do it locally and low-key. There is nothing more direct than the flyer through the letter-box. We all have a responsibility to wear out some shoe-leather getting the facts to the majority.

    2. A conversation is still the most direct way to communicate with people. I was just wondering about a possoble spelling error; If ‘This price involves becoming a subsidiary part of the government machine. It means turning their readers and viewers into dupes.’ then perhaps the correct spelling of his name is Pissedon? There’s an interesting article – https://www.thecommoner.org.uk/che-in-england/ – about how localised action can respond to realities and raise consciousness. Alternatively ‘Flatpack Democracy’ illustrates how to achieve grassroot changes in an English town.

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