By now we all know Jan Moir doesn't get it, but there are a few its that she doesn't get. She doesn't get it that she did something wrong. She doesn't get it that people were revolted by her article. She doesn't get it that people were so appalled that they wanted to complain. She doesn't get it that while the thousands of complaints aimed at the BBC in the wake of 'Sachsgate' had to be fielded by the corporation, egged on by the Daily Mail (including her), the PCC could possibly ignore all the complaints about her awfulness and inaccuracy because of the way it's structured; and that this makes newspapers look less accountable than the BBC, particularly when she issues the equivalent of a 'meh' as a response to the shit-storm she's found herself in. She doesn't get it that the reaction to her atrocity of a column was a spontaneous response which snowballed through genuine disgust among people on the traditional 'left' and 'right' who think what she wrote was horrific, and not all a big liberal-left blogging conspiracy against her which was 'orchestrated'.
It's not just Jan who doesn't get a lot of its. A lot of people don't get a lot of its. But we should forgive them their ignorance, their lack of understanding of these new social media phenomena. They have been brought up in a didactic world of media, where newspapers tell you what to think and why to think it; not in a world where readers give back as good as they get, want to correct inaccuracies and don't stand for being lied to.
In the good old days of print, there were newspaper pages, and if you disagreed, you had to lump it. You could write a letter to the editor, who would do the equivalent of patting you on the head and telling you to fuck off, and that was that. These were times when content was one way, when the reader was very much a passive part of the experience. There wasn't the opportunity to look up the facts for yourself, to check blogs and websites for background information and contradictory opinions. You were pretty much stuck with what you were told. And if you didn't like it, well you knew where you could go: to another newspaper, who told you slightly different things, but ones which might be a little more to your taste.
Some news outlets do get it, I think. Some understand that the world isn't made up entirely of reactionary types, and that people you wouldn't expect to be can be surprisingly liberal when it comes to certain types of stories. Some newspapers try to write for readers, not for themselves. They don't think "What's our angle on X, Y and Z?" but "What will our readers think of this?" - but not all. Those who do might survive the dark times ahead; those who refuse are going to look increasingly stupid in a world where readers are increasingly informed from elsewhere, able to challenge and unwilling to be spoonfed.
There is no 'orchestration', no big celebrity Twitter conspiracy to make Jan Moir cry. You have to remember that if she didn't write such a thunderingly shit article in the first place, there couldn't have possibly been such a reaction. There might not have been any reaction at all. And yes, there have been others - I'm looking at you, Littlejohn, though your time will come, one glorious day - who have written the same kind of thing, or worse, and got away without the same level of criticism. But it seems now there are some of us who have had enough of the mainstream media telling us what to think, lying to us, giving the news for bigots instead of the news for everyone. It's not like I want the Daily Mail to stop existing; I just wish it was good. I don't even mind it being right-wing, so long as it's right-wing and accurate, and with as little poisonous hatred directed at recently dead people as possible. But even that seems too much to ask.
I may be a naive fool, and I probably am, but I think the public aren't idiots. We know when we're being sold a pup, and when well-paid writers are being so unpleasant that you have to turn around and say: Actually, you're entirely wrong, and misleading, and you don't represent me, and you probably don't represent most people's views either.
It's easy for the Mail to go back into its shell, write a pathetic article about Twitter 'celebrities' having a go at Philip Schofield's haircut and Stephen Fry's nose and think everything will blow over and they can get back to sticking the boot in on Monday morning. Because it's not even like there's been a watershed, or anything's changed. This has been coming for a long time. Not just with the Mail, though it's the consistently worst offender, but with our press - they write for us, so they should do a better job of it. Want to know why people aren't buying newspapers any more? Because there's so little worth reading, so much of the time. The dog days are over. There's no point in thinking you can keep getting away with the prejudice, the hatred, the distortion, because you can't. It's not a big liberal conspiracy: everyone wants newspapers to be better. It's whether they want to be better, and thrive, or whether they think they're there only to push a narrow agenda, and die.
It will be interesting to see how long it does take for them to 'get it'.
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