January 19, 2006

Our shabby media culture

Writing about web page http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/comment/story/0,,1687932,00.html

I'm kicking this blog off by pointing to an excellent piece of writing by Polly Toynbee about the ways in which as a culture, and in our media, we treat politicians. In a very powerful paragraph, Toynbee writes:

A free press may be essential to democracy, but how grotesquely it exploits that necessity. Self-righteously we pontificate on politicians, free to damn ministers at whim, shameless about our own far worse venality and hypocrisy. Politicians try to get things done while we shoot them down from comfortable quarters. They come and go – but we stay on and on, never at risk of de-election from jobs no one elected us to. Instead we award one another prizes. We confront no dilemmas where there is no right answer; we always know the answer to everything.

Donald Dewar, Scotland's first First Minister, wrote passionately about how our media create a grotesque picture of our politicians and politics which is not good for voter engagement and turnout and so on. The treatment of Ruth Kelly at the hands of baying journos this week is only the most recent in a long line of similar, shallow but dangerous ventures masquerading as investigative journalism.


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