As a guest reviewer of the papers on the James Whale Breakfast Show today I obviously chose stories to discuss which I thought of relevance and importance to myself, the country and those who reside in it. My first priority was the continuing horror in Nigeria and the shocking images of the 200 little girls being held hostage by these violent criminals. Leading on from that were my concerns over the recent Amnesty International Poll suggesting a large percentage of the UK’s population believe torture to be acceptable in certain cases – interestingly enough, a higher percentage than those believing the same thing in Russia. The Poll suggests this ‘acceptance’ of the totally unacceptable has been brought about by the media via such television shows as 24, Homeland and Spooks. Another of my concerns was the continuing trend of very young children to carry knives and other weapons – the latest case being that of a teacher who found a 10 year old pupil carrying a kitchen knife in his school bag. All very shocking, worrying and violent subjects surely warranting the gravest of concerns by those who read them?
James Whale then asked me why, in view of what I had personally selected to discuss, did I think the current Gary Barlow tax story had warranted such vast media coverage. The answer for me was simple. The celebrity obsessed press would rather focus on and print a relatively trivial story t if there is a ‘celebrity’ connection than a hugely important one if there is not. Another example of how much power the press and media hold. As per my example above with the Amnesty International Poll, it is proof positive this power not only extends to dictating what the general public thinks, but also has a direct effect on the way they behave too. For me, this is extremely worrying – but obviously not for the vast majority who appear to be far too busy joining in with the ‘witch hunt’ type behaviour and rhetoric being exhibited towards Mr Barlow – perhaps if the press and media placed more emphasis on the important issues and far less energy ‘scraping the barrel’ to dredge up ‘dirt’ on those in the public eye, the general public could use their energies and time discussing, addressing and voicing concerns over matters of global importance?