“The last few days have been seismic and historic for Britain, the greatest political crisis since the second world war with reverberations felt around the world,” wrote Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner in the Graun yesterday, in what amounts to a begging letter to her diminishing readership, imploring them to throw money the Guardian’s way. She goes on to say:
We’ve been working non-stop to try to make sure that the journalism you find in the Guardian and the Observer properly reflects these extraordinary and complicated times.
Let’s note her choice of words – “properly reflects these extraordinary and complicated times.”
Not ‘accurately’. Not ‘honestly’. Not ‘responsibly’. Not even ‘fairly’. In fact she notably doesn’t invoke any of these supposedly essential aspects of good journalism anywhere. Instead we get “fast, well-sourced, calm, accessible and intelligent” journalism, that “provide[s] the answers that people desperately need at this time of anxiety and confusion.” Not questions, which can be open-ended and scary. Answers. Packaged and provided for you courtesy of the Graun. Safe, secure, on message, and of course “properly reflect[ing] these …complicated times.”
So, the proper way to reflect Corbyn’s speech on anti-semitism was to grossly misrepresent both the meaning and content? The proper way to reflect the coup against the Labour leadership was to give unlimited space to only one side of the debate? The proper pursuit of journalistic excellence lies in forming unholy alliances with unashamed propaganda outlets such as Interpreter Magazine and the CIA-created Radio Free Europe, and to run an endless and often ignorantly racist smear campaign against the Russian government and nation? The proper position for a serious news outlet is to publish fan write-ups and apologies for avowedly neo-nazi militias? To advocate for illegal wars, and solicit the opinions of a war criminal on the desirability of further war crimes?
This, presumably, is how they sleep at night. Reassuring themselves that answers are more important than questions and “proper” trumps “true” in terms of real journalism. This is fine, I suppose, if that’s their personal choice, but isn’t it a little rich to ask us to fund them to tell us lies? Still, at least there’s one sentence in Viner’s embarrassing begging letter that I think most of us can agree with.
Producing in-depth, thoughtful, well-reported journalism is difficult and expensive. But supporting us isn’t
Good of you to make the distinction, Kath. Saves us the trouble.