Don’t Buy “The Sun”

I suppose most people who read this blog are far too sophisticated to buy “The Sun” newspaper. It is a gutter rag, stable companion of “News Of The World” which was so implicated in the phone hacking scandal, it was shamed out of existence.
“The Sun” is of course owned by Rupert Murdoch. Among other things it advocates leaving the European Union because foreigners have too much influence over Britain’s affairs. Rupert Murdoch is an Australian-born American citizen. And he has quite a lot of influence over British affairs…thru The Sun and The Times and Sky News.
In the aftermath of the Hillsborough tragedy, The Sun infamously ran a front-page story. It claimed fans of Liverpool had urinated on police officers and had pick-pocketed the dead and dying. It was of course a BIG LIE, planted by South Yorkshire police who wanted to deflct the blame to the fans. As a consequence, The Sun newspaper became toxic on Merseyside.
Yesterday we had the spectacle of former editor, Kelvin McKenzie being door-stepped by journalists. He looked uncomfortable. He tells us he is glad for the families. And yet he seeks to portray himself as a victim. He was fooled by an agency report and he published it. Is it not the responsibility of a journalist to check a source? Is it not unforgivable to publish such a tacky piece bound to cause offence to grieving families?
The Big Story yesterday was Hillsborough. There will be few bigger stories in 2016, than the finding that ninety six football fans were unlawfully killed and that for twenty seven years there has been a cover up. It is a scandal. It is bigger than any celebrity death.
Yet neither The Sun or The Times (allegedly a paper of record) carry Hillsborough on their front pages today. The Times has since apologised and corrected later editions. It is hard to escape the conclusion that the Murdoch newspapers could not bring themselves to face up to The Sun’s disgraceful conduct more than two decades ago. All Editors must make a judgement as to the “news value” of a story but hard to believe that the decision not to run front page stories was anything to do with journalistic ethics. It looks like the Editors had been in conversation with the proprietor or at least thought they were doing his bidding.
Or maybe there is no such thing as journalistic ethics?
Of course, twenty seven years ago, The Sun “only” offended the people of Merseyside. The boycott of The Scum (sic) was and is localised.
But clearly, the 2016 offence is more grave. Newspapers have a duty to report the news. It is not good enough to ignore one of the major stories of the year to save embarrassment, to pursue a vendetta or to follow the whim of a man with the ethics of C Montgomery Burns.
Of course, human nature is fickle. The Sun will seek to ride out the storm, issue a muted apology and offer some give-aways (cheap air flights and holidays) to counter public ridicule.
Yet…consumers are not the only ones with some power here. A start could be made by Liverpool Football Club banning The Sun from its press conferences. A move that could be followed by Everton FC (fellow Merseysiders) and the rest of the big northern teams.
Pressure can be brought on advertisers of course. But other people have power, notably a stance by the British Labour Party to ban Sun reporters from briefings would shame the Tory Party into doing the same.
The alternative is temporary anger ….and ridicule in other media and a reference to it on “Have I Got News For You”….and …then Business as Usual.
And that would not be good enough.

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2 Responses to Don’t Buy “The Sun”

  1. Political Tourist says:

    I’m even more shocked that anybody in places like West Belfast buys the Sun.

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