Yesterday I was betrayed. My journalistic world crumbled and I’ve been left as a hopeless infant, with no way of knowing who to trust any more.
The Independent - the paper I’ve always thought of as ‘my paper’, despite it being a little on the expensive side for student finances - is a paper built on being, well, independent. Every issue until 2011 would proudly declare “Free from party-political bias, free from proprietoral influence”.
On Tuesday, however, The Independent published an editorial backing another Tory - Lib Dem coalition. A caveat at the end of the second paragraph brandishes “We will not be telling you how to vote.” but the editorial does in fact go on to tell you, not too cryptically, to vote Liberal Democrat. Not Labour. Whatever you do, don’t vote Labour.
Nearly every paper in the country backs a political party. Some champion louder than others, but most papers are guilty of turning their readership into a political weapon when it comes to election time. Style aside, what is the difference between the boisterous Sun proclaiming ‘IT’S A TORY!’, and the calmer Guardian printing ‘we hope Britain turns Labour’? Why do newspapers feel compelled to just make sure their readers have got the right idea a few days before an election?
Reading a newspaper is a relationship. In return for a small amount of money, I’d like to be told the news, in a way I can trust. I’d like to be kept up to date with national and global events. I’d be interested in reading an opinion on a particular issue. It’d be great if you could throw some puzzles and the weather in there as well. I’m not actually too keen on sport, but thanks for the offer I suppose.
But don’t you dare be so presumptuous as to think you can tell me how to vote. That is crossing a very clear line. I feel like my consciousness is being invaded. I feel owned.
It’s a problem no amount of couples therapy will solve, because the flow of information in the relationship is, effectively, one way. You agree to listen to what a paper has to say, and if you’ve had enough you can break it off. You can’t tell the paper what what they’re doing wrong, unless you have an awful lot of time on your hands, and even then they won’t listen.
Newspapers need to learn their boundaries and start treating their readers as humans, not sheep. You choose to read this article. You must therefore at least be able to read and access the internet. I’m assuming you also have the capabilities to walk to a polling station, and cast your vote whichever way you choose.
Never let anyone tell you outright who to vote for.