Thursday, February 10, 2011

What papers have their say

There is an interesting Early Day Motion doing the rounds in Parliament, all about the Morning Star. It is EDM 1334 and it goes something like this;

"That this House notes the Morning Star is a national daily newspaper available in shops across the UK; further notes that it is the only socialist daily newspaper in the English language worldwide; further notes that the Morning Star and its management have strong links with the trade union movement; welcomes the different light it shines on news and current affairs from that of other daily newspapers; expresses concern that the Morning Star is rarely ever shown on or reported by the BBC on television and radio; and calls on the Director General of the BBC to ensure that the Morning Star is featured regularly and as a matter of course in broadcast newspaper reviews in the interests of fair and balanced reporting."
Considering this is about the house newspaper of the Communist Party of Britain it has accrued a considerable number of signatories, fifty two of them in fact. This includes my favourite Lib Dem MP, Bob Russell, the ever-cuddly Frank Dobson and the SNP's Angus MacNeil... none of whom have openly endorsed the revolutionary transformation of the UK into a Brezhnevian worker's paradise.

It raises an interesting point about what newspapers are seen as fit for those little 'tomorrow's papers' roundup's on news programmes and one that is worth supporting. It would have been slightly better if it hadn't been MPs pressuring the state broadcaster to give preferential treatment to the Morning Star over other minority papers - which steps over the line of political interference in the BBC and smacks of special pleading.

Daily newspapers like The Voice or the Edinburgh Evening News do proper journalism, have a distinct identity, serve a specific community and sell a decent number of copies (40,000 a day in the case of the Voice and 25,000 a day in the case of the Morning Star, I'm told).

These slots would certainly be more interesting if there was a bit more variety. After all the Telegraph, Times, Guardian and Independent all having different headlines on the same story only takes you so far - while a few "black teenager disappearance goes unreported" and "Strike action is brilliant" headlines would shake things up a bit.

Democracy isn't just about majority voices after all.

I was surprised to see that the Morning Star had a rather belligerant piece in their paper about the EDM. They choose, for example, to denounce Michael Meacher and Caroline Lucas for not signing. This is particularly strange seeing as Caroline at least has every intention of signing but you have to literally put your pen to an official document to get your name on an EDM and she hasn't yet been in the same room as that piece of paper.

It's an EDM not a fire that needs putting out here and now.

Personally I think I'd support the EDM too, but why it had to be so self serving I've no idea. Many of us would support the call for more space for minority papers and ideas but for the Morning Star to be singled out over other, more widely read, papers seems a little bit like advertising rather than principle.


Dan O'H said...

It's only in international comparison that you really notice how shallow and homogenous the British press is.

Here in Germany, just on the left, we have Junge Welt (strong focus on international events), Neues Deutschland (old-school socialism, with a heavy dose of economics), and the Taz (reminds me of the Guardian, but active in supporting/reporting environmental protests and the like). Plus a couple of heavyweight mainstream papers with a slight lean to the left.

In the UK -- well I'm glad of the existence of the Morning Star and the Socialist Worker, because with just the Guardian and the Indy we'd have such a limited perspective on the news.

Jim Jepps said...

I'm a big fan of french local papers - they put ors to real shame

Anonymous said...

I'm all for BBC coverage of the local and regional press as well, but the point is that the Morning Star is the only NATIONAL DAILY paper systematically excluded from all press round-ups on radio and TV.
Why is it so shockingly "self-serving" for the Morning Star to campaign against such a clear-cut case of political censorship? I'm not awware of any local and regional papers complaining that they are left out of BBC reviews of the daily national press.
Is it too much to expect a straightforward endorsement of something so basic?
Incidentally, the Morning Star has a long and hnourable record of campaigning in favour of press pluralism against the publishing, distribution and retail monopolies, working with other publications on behalf of press freedom.
But who's going to report that?!

Jim Jepps said...

As I said, I'd be in favour of signing and of course Caroline did sign as soon as she could, as she always intended to.

That doesn't mean it had to be so self serving though does it? Or that the paper had to criticise it's own supporters for not singing the EDM the day it was released.