Unlike the Nort Koreans, we are very lucky to live in a country with a free press, where we can openly criticise the actions of our leaders, and are not obliged to put on effusive displays of grief when one of our national politicians shuffles off the mortal coil.
Nevertheless, as I have spent more and more time in active politics, and over the last 18 months as a cabinet member of my local council, there is an aspect of journalism which has come to grate on me. It is that, whenever any person in any position of authority – whether in local or national government, in business or one of the churches – any member of the so-called Establishment – comes up with a proposal the press seem to feel obliged, in the name of “balance” to find someone – anyone – who will disagree with that proposal.
It does not matter how blindingly sensible the suggestion may be, the press will always find someone who can be persuaded to give a comment saying that it is a bad idea. This is because you can be sure that somewhere there will be a Doris Bonkers who believes that anything emanating from anyone in a position of authority must be tainted with self-interest, that there must be a hidden agenda. And the press will always find her, because journalists have been brought up to believe that people agreeing about things just isn’t news and won’t sell papers or air time.
Take this example:
“Yesterday it was reported that angels had descended from heaven and informed a number of shepherds that a saviour had been born in Bethlehem, and that he was Christ the Lord, and that they could find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Our sources tell us that a number of shepherds did indeed venture into the town and located the stable where the child had been born and came back, glorifying God. However one shepherd, who did not wish to be named, said that this was all very well, but babies are born every day, that Bethlehem was a long way away, mangers were filthy places and that there were sheep rustlers around. “I’m not interested in saviours”, he told the Gazette. “They only bother the Romans who then come and tax us shepherds all the harder. What I’d rather see is a cut in the wool duty”. (Excerpt from the Palestine Gazette, circa 4BC).
Happy New Year, everyone!