Just take a moment to think what it would be like to live in a world without news. No negative headlines. No worries about the wider world. No gossip columns. No announcements of job losses or business failures. No articles about people that mean nothing to you. No articles. Full stop.
Now take some time and think again.
There would be no national newspapers to keep you up to date with politics and economics. No business pages to provide category insight, trends or innovation. The narrative would be ‘manipulated’. Stories would share the positive but fail to give the bigger picture. We would become reliant on a one-sided view of everything. There would be no accountability, governance or code of practice.
Local news would come from chatter shared around the school gates or water cooler. Gossip would prevail. There would be no time for investigating the facts. Those stories that make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside would be enjoyed by the few, not the many.
Charitable activities, good deeds and communities coming together to clap in the street. Veterans raising millions of pounds through personal challenges. Residents using their skills to sew, knit and cook to selflessly help others.
These things would still happen, but only those involved would know about them. Certainly not the millions of people that rely on their newspaper, radio or TV broadcast every day.
Give journalists a chance
So, perhaps I’m painting an unbalanced picture of the news myself.
Maybe some journalists aren’t as thorough or as professional as we may like. Playing devil’s advocate, couldn’t that be said of all industries? Surely the behaviour of few doesn’t set a precedent for the many.
I have worked with journalists across international, national and regional media, broadcast and print, for more than twenty years. Throughout my career, I can honestly say that I have built up a genuine respect and admiration for what they do.
Some, I would even consider as friends.
A heartfelt plea
Yesterday evening I was scrolling through my twitter feed only to come across a video which had been shared by journalists from the Yorkshire Post. The collective, with no outside encouragement, had come together to give a heartfelt plea to readers.
The message was very simple: buy a paper.
Not only was the content raw, it put a face to the people behind the headlines. It gave a glimpse of those that work so hard to put a paper together every day. Those that allow us to better understand what is going on in our region; good or bad.
It struck a real chord with me.
You may not like the way that some journalists behave, and you may have taken a vow never to buy a particular title for your own reasons, but don’t shoot every messenger. We live in a country where we have a choice of media and medium.
Spoilt for choice
You don’t have to buy one paper, listen to one radio show or rely on one TV station. There is an abundance of media out there. We are fortunate that this is the case, and perhaps too spoilt for choice.
While I know that people will take this as an opportunity to share their opinions about the media; with some that say journalists are ‘missing the mark’, perhaps even that they are not representative of the British public. The simple truth is, this goes beyond a daily press conference.
This is a moment in time, and we would be mindful to think beyond it.
Think about the last story you read which made you smile. Think about the cuttings your mum kept. Think about those you are saving for your own family. Think about that feeling when your company featured in the business pages and someone mentioned it. Think about the ideas, encouragement and motivation you took from a feature.
Don’t be the reason to ‘stop press’
There are good and bad sides to everything. Nothing is perfect. We are all learning, and we are all adapting. Journalism is a skill. It takes patience, thought, concentration, the ability to find an angle and to get to the heart of a story. It is creative, exciting, interesting and engaging. It keeps us all informed.
This may be an opportunity for us to turn our backs on journalism and to make a stand. Refuse to buy a paper. Turn off the radio. Avoid the press conferences. Choose a box set.
When this is all over and we come out from the darkness and into the light. When we go to pick up our free paper on the daily commute. When we go to grab the local paper to see what’s happening down the road. When we go to the shop on a Saturday morning to enjoy the paper with a strong coffee. When we go to grab the Sunday paper with its many supplements that last us a week.
They won’t be there.
The stand we took. The one we didn’t think enough about. The point we made. It will be the demise of the newspaper. Humble as it may be, it is a lifeline for many. Don’t make a mistake you will live to regret.
Taking the right stand: the news stand
For now, I am backing the Yorkshire Post and the journalists that work for the title and those within the wider JMIMedia Publishing Ltd.
I will continue to buy my local papers. I will learn from the stories, laugh at the stories, cry over the stories, be shocked by the stories and I will encourage others to do the same.
In a time when it has never been more important to come together, let’s back the many and ignore the few. Buy a paper and keep an industry alive that many of us really do rely on.