Written by News

National Newspapers on Friday

I’ve had a couple of days to think about this, but here’s the response I wrote to a piece Andrew Collins published on his blog in reaction to media coverage of the death of Gadaffi. I refused to buy a newspaper on Friday, because I found the editorial judgement of many of our newspapers – tabloids and broadsheets alike – to be seriously lacking.
This isn’t about human rights. I’m not going to make a moral judgement here about whether or not Gadaffi deserved it. In the context of this imagery, that’s irrelevant.
This is about the our society’s lack of moral judgement in deciding that it’s perfectly acceptable for publications that appear in shops, supermarkets, on the mat by the front door across the country, to portray imagery this shocking.
Was Gadaffi being killed the biggest story of the day? Of course.
Should the story have appeared on the front page? Certainly.
Did we need to see massive full-colour photos of a man either dying or dead? Certainly not.
Let’s be clear – if this imagery and video had been in a feature film, the BBFC would have rated it 18. Many of the papers that were happy to publish this picture on the front page would have been fulminating at the mouth if children had been able to a fictionalised version.
The next iteration of the Grand Theft Auto video game (or some similar title) will inevitably re-open a debate about the end of innocence of our children. But video games have age ratings. Newspapers don’t.
And this isn’t just about the protection of children. This is about what we, as the supposedly civilised West, think is appropriate. Once upon a time entire famillies would have gathered to watch criminals hung at Tyburn – it was a day out. We probably consider ourselves a bit “above” that nowadays. But I wonder…
I note that most of the coverage I’ve seen has been about the right and wrongs of the TV broadcasters on Thursday. I didn’t actually see any TV that night. But I did walk into a newsagent’s on Friday morning.