Has the priorities of the UK Press become skewed?

October 4, 2016

 With Kim Kardashian held at gun point this week, there begs the question of why so many mainstream newspapers are choosing to focus extensively on trivial celebrity news, as oppose to more serious news taking place in the nation and worldwide. 

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Last Monday, the front cover of the Evening Standard was titled ‘Kim’s Gun Terror in 9M Gems Raid’ (3rd October, 2016) and the following double page was an extension of this item- this was similarly the case in the Daily Mail, The Sun, and The Metro. Although there is a common perception that traditionally right-wing papers produce non-intellectual and sensationalist news coverage, traditional left-wing papers such as The Telegraph are too increasing their coverage on celebrity gossip.  However, with important issues such as the imminent US election debate and post-Brexit negotiations (just to name a phew) also occupying the news agenda, is it morally disturbing that the attention of the public has been drawn to a minor burglary when across the globe, innocent people are losing their lives and their homes.   

 

Therefore, this matter beckons the question- why we are giving so much attention to an Kim when this similar event occurs daily in the lives of people, especially those living in war zones such as Syria.  For instance, take the iconic story of 10-year-old Omran Daqneesh whose family home was destroyed in the Syrian war, and whose brother incidentally died following it. Although the British Press rightfully wrote long and extensive articles about the event, the truth remains that stories like this in the Middle East, and worldwide, is repeated every day, and should really be at the forefront of the public's eyes. 

  

The increase in entertainment coverage is stirring up discussion among the general public. For some readers this reflects the increasing interests of the newsreaders to find out what’s going in the lives of celebrities, especially when it comes to high-profile stories such as Brangelina’s divorce. This new obcession is reinforced by the fact that the Daily Mail - a traditional right wing paper - was announced to be the most popular UK newspaper in print and online, with 23million readers a month (Press Gazette, 2015). In a survey released last year, Pew Research centre revealed that  87% of the public believes that the media has gone overboard on celebrity coverage. However, the majority of respondents think that it's news organizations who are to blame rather than public appetite. 

 

This leads on to the argument that news agenda of the Press reflects the political ties that the government has to various countries. Based on this argument, the media is assumed to dictate which countries are given more attention than others by government officials. There are some countries that we do not hear about because the UK simply do not have political ties with the country. For instance, there has been a horrific ongoing war taking place in Burundi for the last two years (PRI – Public Radio International- March, 2016), yet there have been hardly any news coverage of the war in the mainstream media. However, war coverage across the middle east in Syria and America have a regular place in the news paper, because of the business (based on oil )  that the UK have with middle-eastern politicians. Prior to the news items being released, there is an established agenda which sets out which countries in particular are going to be highlighted. For instance, the category 4 hurricane in Jamaica would get more attention than the ongoing war in Ghana because of the UK former colonial ties to the former. 

  

Therefore one must be aware that the media is in a powerful position to highly dictate which people, countries and events the general public are made aware of in the UK. Although some may argue that the UK press make a conscious effort to reflect the interests of their readers through showing more entertainment news, others argue that there is already an agenda set which purposely excludes certain countries and stories. Nonetheless, it is clear that we must be aware of the pivotal role the media plays in relating certain pieces of information to the general public and one must question whether this push towards entertainment coverage is really a positive one.  

 

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