The Biggest Winner was British Spirit

Before the 2012 London Games, patriotism was a bit dead in the water: the England flag was simply the football hooligan’s accessory of choice and the Union Jack a nineties throwback.

There was all the rain, the moaning, the economy, the sense of disparity and even despair for the notion that this country was just a bit…crap. We’d had our glory years, and all that was left was a distinct lack of community, positivity, inclusivity.

After a customary pessimistic build-up to the Games, complete with looming grey clouds and predictions of traffic Armageddon, we were set for a lukewarm Olympics.

And then suddenly, it was amazing. Danny Boyle’s redolently nostalgic phantasmagoria of an opening ceremony smacked the whole country and indeed the whole world in the face to remind us just what’s so good about the United Kingdom.

From here, the atmosphere snowballed, and then bouldered, and never really stopped.
Mo Farah smashed the 10,000m, Jessica Ennis actually did live up to the incredible hype, and Andy Murray beat Roger Federer to win the gold at Wimbledon.

The sporting victories of the British athletes, as well as the Games Volunteers, the thousands of spectators and the rallying spirit of the public all melted down and bubbled together into a redefined sense of who we were as a country, and a natural pride which came with it.

Since the Games I’ve seen a few more Union Jacks dotted around the country- a flag at a festival, on a bag in the street- and while it may be fashionably British to grumble a bit and pretend I don’t care, I must admit it’s nice to see a bit of added red, white and blue.

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Kony 2012 and the Bandwagon Revolution

This post was originally published on Impactnottingham on 25th March 2012  http://www.impactnottingham.com/2012/03/kony-2012-and-the-bandwagon-revolution/ 

My first thought – and indeed my first Facebook status update – was ‘I sense a bandwagon’. Within 48 hours my wall had been polluted with people from across my friendship spectrum ‘sharing’ and ‘liking’ the same video and urging others to do the same. What really got my attention was the nature of the video – this wasn’t Angry Tram Lady or Teacher Beats Student in Rap Battle, this was a promotional video for a charity campaign.

With over 100 million hits in ten days, I probably don’t need to expand on the content of the Kony 2012 video. But I will expand on my opinions of it: how at first, it made me angry and how it then made me optimistic, and how it made me think about the changing faces of activism and apathy in 2012.

In a state of boredom I watched the video, and for at least the first half felt mildly nauseated. I found the video itself cheesy and overly earnest, with its opening ‘hard-hitting’ written statements in monochrome followed by the out-pan shots of the globe to highlight that we are all part of one planet! I disliked the resolutely sombre voice of the narrator explaining in the introduction (which reminded me uncannily of Lady Gaga’s opening speech in ‘Born this Way’) that ‘humanity’s greatest desire is to belong and to connect’, and I was irritated by the clichéd ‘yes-we-can’ scenes of the Kony crew doing good, and yes,enjoying it, punctuated by the uplifting ‘Roll Away Your Stone’ Mumford and Sons song, a seemingly mandatory soundtrack to any do-good moment. Most of all I was highly averse to the director Jason Russell’s cheap use of his adorable, butter-wouldn’t-melt toddler Gavin in saccharine scenes intended to highlight just how BAD Joseph Kony is: Russell explains to his son that Kony ‘forces [children] to do bad things’. Gavin, with his big brown eyes staring into the camera, replies, ‘that’s sad’, subsequently melting the hearts of millions of viewers and prompting the intended empathy.

It was these millions of viewers and sharers that I had a problem with, though. The intentions of Kony 2012 are wholly positive and should be applauded, but what I didn’t like were people’s sudden responses to what is, frankly, one horrifying problem in a sea of many in the world. If everyone cared that much, why didn’t they share information on Facebook about child soldiers before? What about the RUF’s Small Boys Unit of child soldiers in the Sierra Leone blood diamond civil war? What about the FNL’s army of child soldiers in Burundi in its thirteen-year long civil war? There are/have been child soldiers in Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Somalia, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe in Africa as well as in countless other countries worldwide- all in addition to those in Uganda which Kony 2012 draws attention to.

If half the people who claimed to feel so strongly about the issues in the Kony video actually did then I’m pretty sure they would have given some indication of this before the video came out. The Kony response to me smacked of false philanthropism, over-hype and viral craze, as well as the modern-day phenomenon of  people believing that clicking a button is equivalent to getting out there and actually doing something real to help a cause.

It was with these fairly cynical and admittedly vitriolic thoughts that I continued to watch the video. And then I changed my mind.

After watching the video I decided I was generally in favour of the campaign for several reasons. It seemed deliberately aware of how over-reaching it was, and the explicit references to Mercedes, Coca Cola and Dior made it seem specifically aware of what consumerist and materialist culture propagates: fame. The Western world is awash with media overload and the glorification of celebrities, but Kony 2012 intends for us to use this as a tool. Whether for better or for worse, we are good at making people famous, which is why it’s so clever of the campaign director to intend to ‘make Kony famous’- it has a zany twist to it which is far more appealing than ‘let’s stop Kony’ i.e. the imperative of virtually any other activism campaign.  I thought the ‘2012’ part of the campaign was very well thought out. Targeting twenty high-profile celebrities like Rihanna and George Clooney to Tweet and discuss the issue was bound to result in the video going viral, and it makes sense to target twelve top policy makers for action after the issue has been raised.

While following the Arab Spring for the past twelve or so months, I’ve been struck by how amazing it is that people of all ages are prepared to go out every day and literally risk their lives to fight for what they believe in, and I wonder what people in the West would do if faced with a situation like that in Syria. Most of us are arm-chair activists and button-clickers: we go about our day to day lives, and our equivalent of activism is sharing a link. It’s sad that in Syria the average nineteen year old right now is out on the street risking his life for democracy, while in the UK the average nineteen year old is probably on Facebook, but I think the Kony 2012 campaign understood contemporary youth and what activism in the internet era is. I know myself and many others would usually have bypassed the link on our wall, let alone have watched the entire thirty minute video (a light-year in the age of one-click gratification and minimised attention spans). But we did watch it, and something in it made us realise that we can do our very small part, even if it is just posting a link and sharing in order to raise awareness. One small step for the average Facebook user, one giant leap for 21st Century Western apathy.

If this Kony campaign works, who’s to say we can’t achieve the same results using the same strategy? While I disagree with some of Kony 2012’s means, and while I think there are hundreds of other causes deserving of equal attention, I feel excited at this new way of approaching global change for the better. So, I’m sharing the video. Not because I feel it’s more deserving than any other of the hundreds of campaigns we see (and aspects of the campaign are emerging as being deeply flawed), but because I’m excited at the prospect of being part of something different-something that might just work- to bring about global change. I’m excited to see what (if anything) will happen on 12.04.2012.

What I like most about the Kony campaign is that it intended for itself to be a Facebook bandwagon: something which blazes through cyberspace and creates a lot of attention in a short space of time before the fire dies out. This decade, this century, indeed this millennium (still so very young) has produced some mind-blowingly world-altering events in such a short space of time, and history is being written before our very eyes. The Arab Spring’s achievements are unprecedented. Who’s to say we can’t bring about similar change? It seems only natural that if a revolution in the West did occur, it would be through the media of social networking, mass-consumerism and celebrity culture, but if it works, it works.

Will Kony 2012 achieve its aim? Only time will tell. Is it a sound campaign? Debatable. But it’s shown a new and powerful method of globalized activism and pricked the consciences of many apathetic people worldwide.  Is Kony 2012 a bandwagon? Most certainly, but being a bandwagon is exactly its strength and the reason for its global popularity. The crux of the matter is how long people will stick with it. What we need is a bandwagon revolution, and not a revolution bandwagon.

Sian Boyle

Quotes of the Week (15th-20th November)

  • “We are extremely concerned about the future of Syria and the way the leadership is moving”
    -King Abdullah of Jordan calling on President Bashar al-Assad to step down amid further government violence on protesters in Syria, in a BBC interview
  • “Thinking about how we strengthen the best, not the worst, the potential of journalism rather than its misuse, seems an opportunity of the Leveson inquiry”
    – Alan Rusbridger, Editor of The Guardian, in a Comment is Free articleon the Levenson enquiry which seeks to ask how much the press should be independently regulated in wake of the phone hacking scandal

  •  “I am extremely concerned at the riots and violent clashes witnessed in Egypt, notably in Tahrir square over the weekend…I urge calm and restraint and condemn the use of violence in the strongest terms. There is no doubt that the transitional process is a difficult and challenging one”
    Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, in an official statement from the European Union on the weekend’s violence in Egypt, the official statement of which can be accessed here
  • “The government recognises that it was formed to resolve a serious emergency…Given the sacrifices required of citizens, action to contain the cost of elective bodies is unavoidable”
    -Italy’s new technocrat Prime Minister, economist Mario Monti, on his plans for reform within the country in order to curb its debts and rescue it from a potential bail-out situation as reported by Reuters here
  • “The question is how much effect…There is courage- very strong courage. But how much effect? Courage alone is no substitute. You must utilise your wisdom”
    -The Dalai Lama on the wave of young Buddhist self-immolations sweeping Tibet and China in protest at the government repression in Tibet as reported in which you can read more about here
  • Unquote of the Week
    “There is no racism, there is maybe one of the players towards another, he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one, but also the one who is affected by that. He should say that this is a game. At the end of the game, we shake hands”
    -Slepp Blatter, President of FIFA, speaking to CNN World Sport as reported by The Guardian, on his view that racism within football isn’t a serious issue and can be solved with a handshake. Commentators are calling for his resign, branding him as out of touch and inappropriate, especially after scandals of corruption and controversial comments about homosexuals and women within football

Hometown Glory (And Article-History Shame)

There appears to be a glaring error within the shiny world of online media, more specifically within news publications’ websites which have a ‘Most Read/Most Commented/Most Shared’ (this is updated automatically according to the number of hits it receives), because it inadvertently brings old stories back from the grave.

This is causing major confusion for us instant-gratification readers of the digital era who are used to clicking on a story, skimming it and getting the basic gist before clicking onto something else. What starts out as some late-night surfer delving into the vaults of a site’s internet history before stumbling upon a catchy article and inadvertently propelling it onto other readers’ periphery soon snowballs into the Number One Most Read Article on [insert national publication title here]’s website.

Today I had the misfortune of catching the headline ‘Ireland mourns comic talent as “Father Ted” actor dies, aged 45’ on The Independent, screaming inside my head ‘Nooooo! Not Dougal!’ and thinking Ardal O’Hanlon had tragically kicked the bucket at roughly the same age as poor Dermot Morgan, only to check the date and realise that the article was written in 1998. I’ve also been hoodwinked by these trending articles this week into believing that Luton, my hometown, had once more been crowned ‘Britain’s Crappiest Town’, after not only reading it on The Independentand The Guardian within the space of a couple of days but also after seeing that friends had read it on Facebook. I’m sure you can forgive me for not checking the date of the article after seeing so many verifications that this was actually ‘news’.

So, with my best blogging head on, I decided to write a post about hometown pride and living in a crappy town, only to discover that the articles I was basing are actually very much old news. However, I’ve already written an outline instead of doing any work at all for my course, and I need to justify the morning spent on some near-fruitless ‘internet research’, so I’m going to bloody well go ahead with it anyway. Just pretend it isn’t entirely based on some articles published circa 2004…

It appears that Luton has once again been crowned ‘Britain’s Crappiest Town’, as reported in The Independent here and The Guardian here [in, ahem, 2004]. The title was awarded after Sam Jordison, author of ‘Crap Towns’ decided to write a sequel after “people kept asking why, for instance, Luton had not been included”. I have to say, I’m not surprised at Luton topping the chart, not because I feel it is actually particularly crappy but because it serves the purpose of the butt of the country’s jokes. It’s great to have a communal joke among the nation, someone that everyone can laugh at, someone that garners an instant easy laugh: Luton is to the rest of the country what John Prescott is to the House of Commons, and it’s not very nice being the appointed laughing stock.

I am by now perfectly hardened to the Luton jibes I get when out and about, and to be honest I actually prefer them to the moronic exclamations of excitement that follow my admissions of living in Luton with ‘LUTON AIRPORT!!!’, a reference to the long-running, banal and unfathomably popular fly-on-the-wall series entitled, you guessed it, ‘Luton Airport’. (I used to stare with bewilderment at these declarations but have now feigned similar enthusiasm, for convenience and brevity of conversation purposes.)

So, I know you’re on the edge of your seat, wondering just exactly what it’s like to actually live in Britain’s crappiest town (perish the thought). For a start, as I mentioned above, it isn’t exactly that crappy. And obviously it all depends on what you define as crappy (oh, that marvelously punctilious terminology). If it comes down to crime, then Luton is out of the running, as any major inner-city area dwarfs it. If it comes down to lack of recreation, facilities and general things to do, then Luton is a veritable megadome compared to all the villages and smaller towns which offer even less. And if it comes down to happiness; I can honestly say that yes, there are tramps and general miserable-looking people who loiter around the shopping mall, but in general everyone I know in Luton is no more or less happy than anyone else I know in other parts of the country.

One benefit of living in a ‘crappy town’ is that when you do get to live in a genuinely decent city -such as Nottingham- you appreciate it all the more so. I have friends who were born and bred in Nottingham and view it as ‘boring’ and ‘uneventful’, whereas I was blown away by what the city has to offer from day one. I love going to different cities and exploring them, and by the end of the year I will have been to Manchester, London, Birmingham, Leicester, Brighton and Bristol in the space of a couple of months, with Newcastle, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Leeds next on my hit list. The good thing about Britain is that because of its size, no matter how ‘crappy’ your town is, you’re never too far away from a really cool city.

In any case, the bad rep has actually helped Luton. Someone in charge must have been listening to all the Luton-bashing, because in the past couple of years there has been a £4 billion renovation throughout the town centre, improving aesthetics and facilities overall and contributing to its ‘Love Luton’ campaign for city-status bid which celebrates Luton’s ‘History, Diversity, Future’.

Incidentally, no matter how crappy or otherwise the town is perceived, I have a friend who will defend Luton to the hilt against any snubs or insults from those only familiar with its bad reputation, citing that “you should always be proud of your roots”. It got me thinking that surely even the biggest ‘scumbag’ from the crappiest town in Britain is more admirable than the person who is ashamed of their hometown, and slinks away from their history. No matter how ‘crappy’, ‘bad’ or ‘boring’ your hometown is, it’s the place where you grew up, first made friends and where all your oldest memories originate from. As one astute reader commented on The Independent’s website: “I don’t care what anyone says, to me the best town is the one I grew up in. It’s the one with all the good memories, the family and the old childhood friends. People often talk it down, but it’s only when they’ve gone that they realise it’s home.”

Moral of the story: be proud of your crappy town. Oh, and always check the article history date.

Quotes of the Week (7th-13th November)

  • “It’s time to grab the Goldmen by the Sachs”
    –  Attila the Stockbroker on greed in the financial district in a Radio 4 Discussion, Glut
  • “Demanding Theresa May’s head on a plate solves nothing”
    – Steve Richards commenting in The Independent that the sacking of Theresa May in the wake of the scandal of the relaxation of border controls will not solve the underlying problem of the need for wider accountability
  • “Everyone wants to leave [Greece], not only because they have no money: there is no order…There are no rules”
    – A Greek mother on the worsening situation in the country , as reported by John Humphrys for the Today programme
  • “[We’re] trying to improve the business and the structures to make sure these things don’t happen again because they’re something that I am very sorry about”
    -James Murdoch answering questions from the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee as part of the enquiry into News International’s role in phone hacking, a video of the highlights of which can be seen here
  • “Our growth stalled and problems started before the Eurozone crisis escalated. But David Cameron and George Osborne are still sitting on their hands at home refusing to admit they are wrong”
    -Labour leader Ed Miliband on the opposition’s failing economic policies and their hiding behind the Eurozone crisis as ‘a cloak’ to avoid confronting this

Unquote of the Week

  • “Umm what’s the third one there […] I can’t remember the third one. Oops.”
    – Presidential hopeful Rick Perry at the cringe-inducing CNBC Republican debate in which he forgot which department of government he would abolish, the video of which you can see here

The Builders Are In

The builders are in, and I’m struggling to deal with it. I’m renting off of my mate Harry, who’s having work done to the flat. A lot of work. As in, rip it all out, get new EVERYTHING and then shove it back in again. He’s warned me about it for a while, to which I nonchalantly replied ‘It’s cool’. Except now I’m not as cool as I thought I’d be.

I was thrown in at the deep end on day one. There I was, lying in bed with a hangover scale of 10, after a spontaneous night out in Nottingham involving double whiskies, champagne cocktails, a spending frenzy in a shooter bar followed by a free lock-in at a pub. As I’m sure you can imagine, one’s head is rather delicate at these times, and it was all I could do to lie there, my pores sweating alcohol, every now and again sipping my water trying not to retch and generally feeling sorry for myself. All of a sudden, there was a huge WHACK! I jumped a mile, and with every subsequent WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!, my head pounded as I tried to work out the source of the evil noise, every blow feeling as if it were dealt to my long suffering head with full force and accuracy. Then I realised: the builders. They were here. And they were demolishing the wall next door to me vigorously with sledgehammers. I can categorically state that three fervent builders with sledgehammers working in close vicinity bring a whole new meaning to the term ‘banging headache’.

Another hurdle was the first time I had to actually go ‘out there’ and walk past them. Most people who know me will tell you that I’m a fairly confident person, but for some reason I came over all shy from the outset. It felt so ‘Me v. Them’, as if they were alien invaders intruding in my sanctuary of calm and privacy. Upon leaving my room to get to the bathroom a few feet away, I saw that in the few hours since the builders had been working, the flat had morphed into a dystopian war zone. Nothing was recognisable, and I dived into the bathroom to take my shower (…and take cover). However, upon emerging in a pink towel and a mud mask, squeaking ‘hi!’ and running underneath a hapless builder’s ladder while he grouted the wall, before bolting into my room, I can’t really blame the chaps if they thought I was more foreign than I thought them.

Since then, no thanks to my bashful conduct, I seem to have scared the builders off a bit, and now there really is a kind of a barrier between us. Harry serves as the bridge between us both, the middleman between two very divergent parties. He is my guardian against the alpha males, the scary ‘blokeness’ in my home, and he ‘banters’ with them, smoking Mayfair cigarettes and speculating about which one of The Saturdays is pregnant (surely everyone knows??). Similarly Harry is the holder of the key to the mythical portal of girliness that is my room, that I must so frequently vacate so the builders can do their job. Occasionally I have heard perfectly audibly (through quite literally plaster-thin walls) one of the builders hollering across the flat ‘So, err, Harry, when’s she leavin’ then?’ Similarly, I have sometimes texted Harry while he is in the front room to come in to my room, just so I can ask when the builders are leaving.

Cooking is another issue. Harry and I are living out of boxes, with all our crockery, cutlery and food packed into cardboard boxes on the floor, and assembling a meal is a bit of a lucky dip. Worse than this is the perpetual ‘builders dust’, the white plaster dust which resides everywhere, from the sink, to the bowls, to the settee and any unlucky food that should be left uncovered. Asbestos muesli, anyone? I cook on a wiped-down chopping board which rests on top of a hob which itself teeters on the washing machine (we’ve never had an oven). Preparing a meal in this way is hazardous, lest that stray piece of chicken fall asunder off the island of the chopping board into the perilous sea of white dust which would surely claim it. One comrade never to return.

Eventually though, after one day crying in my room about the builder’s dust and all my stuff being in a suitcase and not being able to find something or other, I realised just how much of a big baby I was being. At the end of the day, there was work being done on the flat, not a genocide, and itreally wasn’t as intrusive as I was making out to myself. Plus, I had a brand-spanking new flat with oven, dishwasher and laminate flooring to look forward to. My behaviour was puerile. Maybe, I thought to myself, maybe I’ve been over the top about this. Maybe I’m being immature. Maybe I’m being a big Girl. Maybe….oh. Maybe The Painters are in. That would explain things…

Murdoch’s Media Monopoly

Amidst the furore surrounding Murdoch and his empire, not to mention the tsunami of scandal that has swept this country since the first wave of News of the World allegations just fifteen days ago, I feel that now would be a good time to publish my archive piece, ‘Murdoch’s Media Monopoly’, first published in Impact in December 2009, a time where Murdoch’s omnipotence was the status quo and no one could ever really see that changing. 

His satellites deliver TV programmes in 5 continents. He publishes 175 newspapers, including The Sun, The News of the World, The Times, The Sunday Times, The New York Post and the majority of Australia’s nationals. He owns Fox Studios, News and TV networks, 19 sports channels and 35 TV stations that reach 40% of the U.S. public. He also owns Sky TV, Harper Collins publishing, MySpace, record labels and countless other media components which all make up his formidable company NewsCorp, which employs 55,000 people and has a market capital of $30.72 bn.

Rupert Murdoch’s career began in his native Australia, where first owned a small paper and then went on to dominate national media. In 1968 Murdoch bought The News of the World, and later The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times. His power and company grew rapidly: in the 70’s he snapped up and revitalised the New York Post and the New York Magazine, and then went on to found Sky. So, how has he become so successful?

Murdoch systematically trades his media components’ editorial bias for political favours, and by carefully cultivating relationships with national governments he has bought ever more influence throughout the world. This has enabled him to break down or sidestep media legislation intended to prevent the emergence of media barons such as himself.

The media has an undeniable influence on public opinion. It can make or break a would-be celebrity or politician overnight. Take Jade Goody who one day faced a barrage of scornful headlines, the next was a national heroine.

Tabloids are more of a liability than broadsheets as they are more prone to sensationalism, which can galvanise readers into more extreme actions or views than they would have otherwise had. It is also a big fat pound sign in the eyes of the editors. The Sun and its ilk are culprits of Yellow Journalism – a term used to describe journalism that always downplays legitimate news in favour of eye-catching headlines that sell more. Similarly, Junk Food News describes ‘news’ that is sensationalised and inconsequential trivia, which is ‘not very nourishing, but cheap to produce’. The whole point of news is that it should be informative, not entertaining, and unbiased enough for us to make our own opinions on matters.

Murdoch, as the owner of the most widely read newspaper in the country, is all too aware of his power, and uses it to influence the political scene. He has a history of private parties with influential politicians, and even has Barack Obama begrudgingly doing deals with him to keep is PR in check.

In 2008 Obama, Murdoch and the President of the Fox News channel agreed upon a “tentative truce”. Obama resented Fox’s portrayal of him as “suspicious, foreign, fearsome – just short of a terrorist”, while Fox News’ President was quoted as saying: “It might not have been this way if Obama had been more willing to come on air”. NewsCorp even had the power to recruit the Kennedys as go-betweens, and eventually an agreement was made that Obama would be portrayed more favourably as long as he would be more willing to appear on Fox.

Closer to home, Murdoch has our candidates for PM eating out of the palm of his hand. In October 2006, when Murdoch was asked what he thought of David Cameron, he shortly replied “not much”, and was actually highly impressed by Gordon Brown. Fast forward to last year, when David Cameron accepted free flights on Murdoch’s private jet to hold private talks with Murdoch on his yacht – the total sum of which cost Murdoch a hefty £30,000. Cameron had declared in the Commons register of interest that he accepted the private jet and yacht invitation, but would not disclose the content of the discussions. Later in the same year, Cameron welcomed Murdoch to his house in Kensington, knowing that winning over Murdoch would lead to his most important endorsement ahead of the general elections.

One recent example of this media oligarch wielding power over politicians in order to change laws so he can expand his company, as well as the biggest indication as to why Murdoch went from thinking Cameron “a lightweight” to fully supporting him in just a few short years, is the 2009 Murdoch/Cameron BSkyB/Ofcom/BBC deal. Murdoch has always been very candid about his dislike of his rival BBC, complaining that the BBC is “feather-bedded” because it’s funded by the license fee. Murdoch’s son made a scathing attack on the BBC in August, as well as attacking Ofcom, accusing the communications regulator of intervening “with relish” at any opportunity.

Ofcom is currently investigating BSkyB (Murdoch’s company which runs Sky), and has demanded that BSkyB sell its’ premium content to rival broadcasters for up to a third less than it currently charges, as well as selling off its’ holding in ITV. Enter Cameron. He engineered a parliamentary vote against the BBC, proposing to freeze the license fee, claiming that the BBC needed to “do more with less”. He also pledged to abolish Ofcom, promising that if he were elected Prime Minister, “Ofcom as we know it will cease to exist.”

Then, who could have guessed it, in September this year The Sun announced the end of its’ 12-year support of Labour with the headline LABOUR’S LOST IT. Sky News spent much of the day reporting on the political reaction of The Sun – remember, this is a NewsCorp component reporting on another NewsCorp component. The reaction of The Sun, hyped up by Sky News, fans the flames for us, making The Sun’s political decisions appear important. Murdoch has the power to make The Sun’s political stance headline news in itself.

Incidentally, the Tories had to defend The Sun’s move, denying that it had nothing to do with their appointing of Andy Coulson – former editor of The News of The World – as the Conservative Party’s Head of Communications.

All this evidence, to me, points to a deeper corruption than Joe Public realises. We all know that MPs can be dishonest (I think the expenses scandal will remain raw in everyone’s minds for a long time to come), but these examples have shown that the MPs, the Prime Minister or even the President for that matter, are not at the top of the food chain. The real predator is Murdoch, because as the media is the world’s most powerful force, and he’s the most powerful man in media, then he’s leading by the balls every big player whose career and reputation depends on public opinion.

NewsCorp is swallowing up every small, medium and even large fish in the industry, and it’s frightening because this isn’t globalization in the way that Coca Cola or Nestle swallow up every other company in their sector. By buying a chocolate bar from a small brand I could unwittingly be contributing to the unethical Goliath company that owns it, but then I’m only being misinformed as a consumer. NewsCorp owns a large section of the media, and the media forms peoples’ opinions and thoughts. How many people’s opinions does this man covertly form? NewsCorp reminds me sinisterly of The Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984. Take note: Murdoch is watching you.

Hypothetically, if Murdoch managed to take over every media outlet in the world – which he could well be on his way to doing – then we would all effectively be reading the stance, bias or opinions of just one man, which is nothing short of brainwashing.

I am wary of one person controlling so much information. If all we consume is junk food, then we will rot our bodies, but if all we consume is Junk Food News, then we will rot our minds. Murdoch is a fearfully powerful man who knows that the pen is far, far mightier than the sword.