The media! I work in it and I’ve seen it expand massively in quantity and decline sharply in quality – simultaneously.
As a craft-trained British newspaper journalist, I feel news coverage has gone weird, with showbiz dross everywhere, thick tarts (men and women) on and off football fields, and TV news channels designed for morons.
This is not all sour grapes from an auld curmudgeon. There’s a serious point. The explosion in web and mobile phone-based communications is causing human relationships to fragment and weaken – and that's encouraging superficial thinking, emotional incontinence and social isolation.We've created a world of far too much communication without considering the consequences. No wonder we feel jaded. ‘Stop the World – I Want to Get Off’.
What we are steadily losing in the printed word is something resembling truth and beauty, achieved through proper, professional fact-checking and editing. And that is much more valuable than what we're gaining – instant publishing open to virtually all, even the barely literate and the staggeringly stupid and hate-filled.
Even the columnists are not up to much now – mainly because they aren't really newspaper columnists at all, just hired-in jackasses off the telly.
In terms of images and sound (music, film, and spoken word) the digital revolution has also led to a terrible dumbing down and coarsening. Ever more startling presentation does not necessarily mean better. That much is clear – at least to me.As a hack, I’m not just worried about the future of newspapers, with their endless chasing after tittle-tattle on social media.
Quality is missing in magazines too. Go into any supermarket and look at the titles on the shelves. Soap stars, celebrity chefs ... what Cheryl Cole (or whatever she calls herself these days) is up to, or the latest adventures of Peter Bloody Andre. Honestly, who gives a crap what they are up to?
I think local radio is dying too.
A while ago I recall experimenting with my car radio while driving around Merseyside – picking up Heart FM, a programme sponsored by Birds Eye Potato Waffles and hosted by the inane drivel specialist Toby Anstis, who used to be on children's telly.Toby's voice … the adverts for stupid social engineering projects by ‘the government of the Welsh Assembly’ … the hideous music. It was torture beyond endurance.
Now, I’m thinking of starting an old-style newspaper or magazine in Liverpool, containing wise news analysis and great colour-writing. It won’t have a website – and the readers, before being allowed to subscribe to it, will have to pass an intelligence test.