LETTER: Ignorant national media

THERE are few things more perturbing than watching members of the Fourth Estate – the mainstream national press – as they seek to evade their duty and responsibility in order to continue peddling distortion and falsehood to the masses under the erroneous banner of press freedom.

The real story about our national news media is that over the last three decades there has been a complete collapse in the breadth and depth of the news supply network accompanied by the utter devastation and emasculation of the profession of journalism.

Some years ago, a study commissioned from Cardiff University found that even among the “quality” newspapers, a mere 12% of stories were sourced independently by journalists at the paper – the other 88% was taken straight from wire copy and public relations material from other bodies.

It would seem that the primary function of journalism – to locate and report truth and reject falsehood, distortion and propaganda – has now been totally undermined and the process has occurred silently and without much comment.

This situation is not only shocking, but extremely dangerous for democracy and policy-making. Sometimes one hears of local councillors citing “stories” they have read in the national press as “evidence” for decision making. The thought that such stories may be distorted or contain absolute falsehood never seems to have crossed their minds.

Frankly it is hard to overstate the gravity of this situation, for we appear to have arrived at the point where the clueless are leading the clueless.

I think I am safe in saying there is a very strong argument for avoiding national newspapers and other mainstream media on the grounds that being “uninformed” is preferable to being misinformed, or that if one does read or watch the national media to recognise that it is deeply ignorant and easily led.

It’s all very sad, because the need for courageous, independent and intelligent journalism has never been greater.

Unfortunately this now constitutes a very small part of national journalistic output.

KEVIN HEY

Castle Road, Colne