Monthly Archives: March 2013

Press Regulation: Dream or Reality?

Since I started this blog, I’ve seen some horrendous examples of bad journalism, ranging from the badly researched to the downright dangerous. I’ve read stories about people being hounded to suicide by irresponsible reporting. I’ve seen headline news later turn out to be pure fiction. I’ve read vitriolic rants that would make the BNP baulk.

So, despite wanting to go into journalism, press regulation does not seem like a bad idea to me.

I know that I am not alone in my thinking, but also know that there are many that would oppose me, and for various reasons.

The Leveson report stated that the press should regulate themselves. This is a different concept to simply doing as they please- media groups should agree in advance where the line stands, and what happens when they cross it.

While this seems like a soft option, it may be the only one available.

The Daily Mail and the Mirror have categorically stated that they will not accept any form of press regulation. They claim that it violates the Freedom of the Press.

I could draw any number of preposterous comparisons here, but the one thing I need to convey is that these media groups have stated their intention to break the law if one is made. This would make any sort of press regulation utterly unenforceable.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister, having exchanged text messages with rich baddie Rebekah Brooks, needs to make it look like we’re still all in this together. So he needs to press for regulation.

This is something that the red and yellow teams also want, but, as they aren’t actually in a position of genuine power, are free to say anything they want about it. So they want hanging for anyone caught with a dictaphone, full censorship and Piers Morgan’s head on a spike (for the lols).

The Ed Miller Band, who seemed like a serious politician until he started automatically gainsaying whatever Cameron said, apparently wanted the press regulation to be enshrined in law. While lovely for the Dowlers of this world, this would also unfortunately play into the hands of any corrupt politicians who wanted to keep things nice and quiet.

So, the Royal Charter solution is a token, a sticker on the chest of David Cameron saying that he did his best. It won’t make morally fragile investigative journalism any more fluffy, and, if the chilling responses from the nation’s press are anything to go by, it won’t make the tiniest bit of difference at all, ever, and it’s just been a massive waste of everyone’s time, money and attention span.

It was denounced, it must be said, by the usual suspects. The Mirror issued a monosyllabic response: “The cobbled together blanket law will blow up in Britain’s face. Next time a prime minister denounces the censorship of a Mugabe they’ll have a ready retort…Despots will take heart from Britain beating the press.”

I think my IQ just dropped by 70 points just reading that.

The Independent, Telegraph and (doubt it not) Sun were more level-headed, but the very worst strops came from the bloggers. Fleet Street Fox claimed that the government were trying to revoke freedom of speech- something I can’t even bring myself to argue with this time. If you want my take, go through my back catalogue. The Telegraph’s Peter Oborne threw his NUJ (National Union of Journalists) membership card in the bin in a paddy, for their sympathies toward press regulation.

If there’s something that highlights, it’s that baddie journalism is the preserve of the few, and not the many. So, perhaps once all those who like writing about minorities as if they’re freak shows, and stalking innocent people because it’s “in the public interest” have stomped off to the Mail, we might actually see a brighter future for journalism.

Fingers crossed, eh?

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Just. Stop that.

Forgive me if I’m a little angry, but I just read the biggest pile of sexist journalism I’ve seen in a while.

Titled “10 Compliments Men Hate“, at first glance it is a perfectly harmless procrasto-magnet designed to help you ignore your awful job and crumbling love life.

“So why are you reading it?” I hear you ask.

“Stop asking questions,” I say. “That’s not the point.”

At second glance, however, it seems to suggest that the battle of the sexes is well and truly lost- and on both sides. Women come across as nagging domestic behemoths with all the tact of a shotgun, whereas men are portrayed as simple-minded pets who need to be told how butch they are at the slightest hint of oestrogen.

“You may have certain chores down to a science” it lilts. Oh, really? Does that second X chromosome really kit me out to be Supermaid? I enjoy warming my hands in the water with the dishes, but that doesn’t mean I’m any better at cleaning them. I even like to whip round with the broom once in a while.

However, I am not, in any way, more efficient than my partner. Crumbs on the floor? Hoover. Dusty telly? Hoover. Chopping board needs wiping down? Hoover. You name it, he’s hoovered it. Do not mock him- it works. Even, and I hate to say it, on the chopping board.

It goes on: “Men never want their wives to question their ultra-masculine abilities.” What on earth is an ultra-masculine ability? It must be something like lifting a family car while kicking a rhino in the nuts, surely? No: It’s fixing a leaky tap.

I did the electrics for my flat. I’m really proud of that. Not because it’s a “masculine” ability, but because it’s an ability. I also laid the laminate flooring and painted the tricky bits on the ceiling. Are those ultra-masculine activities? Am I now on a waiting list for gender reassignment surgery? I’d have tried to fix the tap, but it isn’t broken. Do I lose my man card for that? Should I have broken it just for the testosterone boost that fixing it would bring?

The article eases off after that, but still suggests a few idiotic things women might say, if said women were under hypnosis and given a script. “I love your tummy flab!” for example, is the male-directed equivalent of going “I really like the way that dress makes your bum look gigantic.” You’d have to be mental, or at the very least not-so-subtly angling for a breakup.

Am I overestimating humanity here, to suggest we’re beyond all this? The idea that women do housework because that is their biological aptitude? And that men are simpletons who think powertools are an extension of their manhood?

I am a human being. I do things that humans do. I lift weights. I knit. I play video games. I cook. You are also a human being. You do things that other human beings do.

What we don’t need to do is have every one of our facets deemed either pink or blue, and especially not when we’re just looking for some mindless nonsense to read on the internet. It perpetuates the ridiculous notion that we’re entirely seperate creatures who are just waiting to develop cloning so we can build the wall and have done with the other lot.

Male, female or anything in between- I don’t care, and nor should you. Have a lovely day, regardless.

On the Go

First off, apologies for my really long absence. I’ve been ill for a few weeks, and before that, I was just lazy. So, sorry.

The final year of my degree has not exactly been leisurely. If I thought revising for University Challenge was bad, I clearly hadn’t encountered synchrotrons.

For those of you who don’t know what a synchrotron is, it’s a type of particle accelerator used to produce light. That is all you will ever need to know for the entirety of your life.

I, however, know a little more about them. I’m waiting for the day I’m idly wandering the streets when a policeman shouts “Oh, sweet Lord! Can anyone here use Matlab to produce a model of a FODO lattice for use in third generation light sources? Lives depend on it.”

I’m not sure it’s going to happen.

I love synchrotrons, and their radiation, utterly disproportionately. You won’t believe all the clever things they’re used for. Still, there’s this nagging feeling that maybe I’ve taken this physics thing a bit far.

To start with, it was a brilliant idea. Do some research. Get a specialism. Know what I’m talking about. Now, it’s getting silly.

But you know what? I don’t care. The more I think about it, the more fun it is. This is what uni should have been from the off- researching something I knew nothing about. I’ve learnt so much.

“All knowledge is precious, whether or not it serves the slightest human use.”

That’s why I want to be a journalist. To know, and to tell everyone what I know.

Let me.