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This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Monday 6 April 2009

Wrong Sort of Baked Beans

Or chips. Or burgers, or breakfast cereal: maybe there really is a difference, or perhaps it’s the influence of the Mad Men, of peer pressure or pester power. Kids demand the brand, and no other. Human beings can be horribly irrational, not that the manufacturers able to charge a premium for their products are complaining. Unlike some economists, they live in the real world.

Sad to say, the demands of childhood never go away for some. This has been understood very well by the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, as Nick Davies’ excellent Flat Earth News shows. Mail readers want to have their world view confirmed; Dacre gives them a product that gives them that confirmation. Further, the Mail delivers the flip side: it doesn’t frighten its readers with stories they don’t want to hear. It’s a comfort blanket.

As for the Daily Mail, so for the blogosphere. It’s not necessary to read many blogs before you realise that there is an often desperate desire to push views and stories that chime with a particular political viewpoint: whether the author is left or right wing, whether Labour, Tory, Lib Dem or any other affiliation.

So what? Isn’t it all harmless froth?

Ah well. Yes and no. Because it’s not so long a journey from the idea of hearing what you want to, to dismissing the stories you don’t want to hear as being biased or downright untrue.

And this mindset has one easy victim: any media organisation that is compelled to apply even handedness, or one that is not so compelled, but which works towards that end.

No prizes for identifying the targets: in broadcast media, the BBC, and in print media, the Guardian.

Are these organisations so horribly biased, or is it simply that they are selling the wrong shape of pasta, the wrong thickness of chips, or the wrong brand of baked beans?

Not that I’d want a little serious thought to remove the comfort of that blanket, of course.

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