Sober weekend reading

This weekend the right-leaning broadsheet newspaper The Telegraph has published an interesting op-ed piece on not just the death of The News of the World, but also on the consideration that conservative economic theory might not be all it’s cracked up to be, that an economic environment that lets the most powerful forces rise to the top of (and then dominate) a market isn’t a good idea at all:

The Left was right that the power of Rupert Murdoch had become an anti-social force. The Right (in which, for these purposes, one must include the New Labour of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown) was too slow to see this, partly because it confused populism and democracy.

Though I don’t consider myself right-leaning and I’ve not always agreed with it, I do like the Telegraph and I was proud to contribute this piece to it recently. I particularly like Mr Moore’s line here, which I think pretty much hits the nail on the head:

It has surprised me to read fellow defenders of the free press saying how sad they are that the News of the World closed. In its stupidity, narrowness and cruelty, and in its methods, the paper was a disgrace to the free press. No one should ever have banned it, of course, but nor should anyone mourn its passing. It is rather as if supporters of parliamentary democracy were to lament the collapse of the BNP.


The New York Times also published this response to something else The Telegraph wrote, wherein it accuses Rupert Murdoch of being as much a contributor to the slimier elements of British culture and society as anyone else, through his promotion of such things as celebrity-obsession and postmodern self-interest via his newspapers:

The culture of the United Kingdom as a whole has been reeking pungently of late — its venal, voyeuristic, reality-show-obsessed, me-me-me nature thrust under the magnifying glass by revelations about what the tabloid press would do to satisfy the prurience of its readers, hacking into phones at any price, even the phone of a 13-year-old murdered girl.

It may be debated to what degree Murdoch created this culture, or reinforced it, through his ruthless, no-holds-barred approach to journalism — and its ultimate deviation into criminal activity.

Certainly he had a significant role.

That definitely goes towards describing the Britain that I recognise.

Both articles suggest that something will have to change to fix, to heal, Britain and its culture and that, hopefully, a reduction of Murdoch’s influence has already been a part of this. Not only is there the possibility that so-called populist news and broadcasting as a whole may increasingly focus on bigger issues, on social issues and on forward- or outward-looking stories, but also that, if nothing else, this opportunity for change may simply give other ideas more room to breathe.