‘It’s the newspapers I can’t stand’

In Tom Stoppard’s Night and Day, Milne, an idealistic journalist, describes the limitations of newspapers, and then gives the best argument for press freedom I know of. ‘You don't have to tell me,’ he says to Ruth, the bored wife of a mining tycoon. ‘I know it better than you — the celebration of inanity, the way real tragedy is paraphrased into an inflationary
spiral of hackneyed melodramas — Beauty Queen in Tug-of-Love Baby Storm... Tug-of-Love Baby Mum in Pools Win... Pools Man in Beauty Queen Drug Quiz. I know. It's the price you pay for the part that matters.

‘Junk journalism is the evidence that society has at least got one thing right, that there should be no one with the power to dictate where responsible journalism begins.’

Notice Stoppard does not say that tabloids redeem themselves by running the occasional piece of serious news alongside the junk — they may or may not. Rather the absence of censors with the power to rule what is ‘responsible journalism’ allows good journalism to flourish. Give the state or whatever body Lord Justice Leveson recommends the right to ban ‘irresponsible

via The Spectator.co.uk Nick Cohen Blog http://www.spectator.co.uk/nickcohen/7816048/its-the-newspapers-i-cant-stand.thtml

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