What’s the common quip about Edmund Burke? The guy was fearful of change; this informed his dislike of the French Revolution. But what’s the truth? He looked at the undercooked revolution and decided that the system of governance which has lasted decades over, in spite of its faults, is better than taking a risk on a totally unknown type of Republican, anti-Monarchism.
The same principle should be taken very seriously with regards to print media right now, though the industry is seriously suffering. Few titles you find in the shops made returns at the best of times; The Times was the first of the UK nationals to put up a pay wall online, the Guardian is considering its own – news from various, free sources has put the willies in the traditional print press, and efforts to retain any price tag is possibly a losing battle.
With the increasing sway of the blogosphere and citizen journalism, as well as content that is freely available online, can these papers really justify their unique claim of quality journalism – and expect us to pay for it?
Certainly what hasn’t helped the case for print is Murdoch and the Milly Dowler case, the Mirror being caught up in scandals, and – on the other hand – the furore surrounding Johann Hari.
So what comes after print? Are there standards in blogging? Can it be regulated in the same way as the press, or – to apply higher standards – TV and radio? There is a lot of hatred towards the tabloid press right now, and the protection which Hari and his own standards have received by paper owners who were only too aware of how many readers he was drawing in, have made us all question the sinking ship.
However according to some, instead of being the death of print, all this could simply empower Paul Dacre – a scary thought indeed. Could blogs and the twittersphere really knock The Daily Mail off? One would only hope, but that’s no solution, only a replacement of a problem.
Perhaps what is missing is accountability, in which case the problem becomes one of how to keep a free press, while making sure it doesn’t wield excessive power. Few people, to be sure, would argue against the PCC emulating OFCOM more – the latter widely considered having more weight, and, as Mehdi Hasan implied recently at his book launch at the LSE, may be one reason why news broadcasting is more respected by the public than other forms of journalism.
Perhaps the case for questioning how much one company can own is the better argument to have. Edward Pearce in the LRB recently said: “A law forbidding anyone, directly or through nominees, to hold more than a fixed, low percentage of any or all media would build a barrier against invincibility.” 40 years ago Ralph Miliband talked about the link in the concentration of power and conservatism. Perhaps not an inherent link, but that is the case in this country.
Now that Labour, under Miliband’s son, has made the forthright decision to take on the Murdoch press, come what may, why should Ed stop there? The dispersing of power among the UK media would be a radical move for Labour, but one that, if successful, would do permanent damage to the Conservatives, whose tune the press sing to by and large.
All in all, press standards are under the spotlight today – which is a great thing, but the solution is reform, not scrappage. Its weaknesses are bad, but what waits in the wings may be worse, or at worst lacking in standards. If reform dealt with the concentration of power, it could benefit the Labour party, and be good for the way in which we receive news too.
While taking a cursory glance at the Lenosphere I came across an odd looking post by The Angry Arab News Service, run by As’ad AbuKhalil, professor of political science at California State University.
The paragraph long post, called Zizek visits Israel: he is now an expert on the Middle East too, reads as follows:
“He proceeded to say that Zionism is not the worst evil in the world…After establishing the deep-rooted vitality of antisemitism, he mentioned that he has no patience for those who excuse Arab antisemitism; that even the most oppressed and poor Palestinian should not be tolerated for being antisemitic.” What do you suggest that we do with the most oppressed and poor Palestinians who express anti-Semitic views? Kill them? Occupy them again? Double occupy them? (thanks Wardeh)
I wanted so much to comment, but the ability to do so has been disabled. Instead I’ll state my very short reply here: Zizek states quite clearly what to do with antisemitism - refuse any patience with it, refuse to tolerate it. How do you do that? By not excusing it as common practice of poor Arabs (which it’s not).
What to some might appear like Zizek withholding sympathy for Palestinians, is in actual fact highlighting the paternalism and snobbery of some pro-Palestinians, who believe those who are lesser off than them should be pitied, left to their own devices, and if they express antisemitic views, well, who can blame them, ‘eh, after all they don’t know any better do they, they’re poor – and as all people know poor people are stupid and don’t deserve to be told they’re wrong to blame the Jews for their plight.
Implicit to this post is the justification that the anti-semite is excused of all hate crime on the grounds that the State of Israel exists. “ What do you suggest that we do with the most oppressed and poor Palestinians who express anti-Semitic views” AbuKhalil asks, giving exaggerated answers that Zizek has not alluded to. Well, I’ll tell you what to do: don’t treat people as though they’re not adult or sane enough to be told they’re wrong; don’t look down your nose at people you feel aren’t capable of properly analysing and addressing political situations; don’t snub the idea that antisemitism, in whatever form it comes and from whomever it comes from – should be rejected and fought under all circumstances, even from “the most oppressed and poor Palestinian”.
To typify Arabs in the way that AbuKhalil has done is racist.
No matter what anybody tells you, we can never excuse antisemitism!