A few weeks ago I came across a free copy of the Daily Star. For those higher mortals who don’t live in Britain, the Daily Star is a tabloid newspaper. Noted for its bums-and-boobs approach to journalism, the Daily Star makes the Sun look like the Encyclopedia Britannica.
It’s a throwback to an age when humans shared the earth with Neanderthals. In fact you might say the Daily Star came along forty thousand years too late. It’s original editor was a toothy Cockney called Derek Jameson, nicknamed Sid Yobbo by Private Eye. The Spirit of Yob lives on in the Daily Star; brief of sentence, limited in intelligence, it isn’t read by white van man, it’s read by the van.
Curiously, what the Daily Star has that the Guardian lacks is integrity. Again, for you higher mortals, the Guardian is a British broadsheet. Left wing and right on, the Guardian, like many titles in the industry, struggles to survive in an age of plentiful online free news.
But reading the Guardian there are times when you wouldn’t know this is supposed to be one of the leading newspapers in the world. Famously known as the Grauniad because of a succession of editors who couldn’t spell, the Guardian throws up on a daily basis puff pieces, fillers and clickbait, and then sits back wondering why its ‘below the line comments’ look more like the minutes of a meeting chaired by Josef Goebbels.
The columnists line up in groups of desperate antagonists like Jessica Valenti, and champagne socialists epitomised by Polly Toynbee. There are still one or two journalists hanging on to standards, John Harris championing social justice, George Monbiot fighting environmental despoilers and corrupt business, and Marina Hyde skewering anyone who walks on the wrong side of life, be they crap celebrities or the spivs of the IOC.
It’s hard to know when the Guardian is taking the piss. Can Tim Dowling’s ultra-mundane wittering about nothing in particular be real? Was the paper’s extraordinary obsession with Beyonce journalistic altruism or a lucrative advertising campaign in disguise? They stopped short of crediting her with the First World War Armistice, but only because she wasn’t old enough to appear in any photographs taken at the time.
When it does its job the results are explosive, such as the Edward Snowden revelations. But these world-shaking exposes are rare, and getting rarer, preferring instead to commission ever more dubious commentary pieces on why it would be a good idea to upset the French (at a time of multiple terrorist attacks), or why men look stupid in cargo shorts (the ongoing mass rape and murder of women and girls in Syria not fitting the Guardian’s preference for clever-dick feminism.)
With its weak journalism above the line, and thuggish depravity below it, the Guardian is becoming a laughing stock, unable to decide whether its future and integrity should be free or paid for. Its dithering lands it in a nether region of serious news gathering cheek by jowl with stories about a man selling wands in Huddersfield.
It’s a sad sight; the once proud campaigning Manchester Guardian sitting at the opposite end of the spectrum to the Daily Star, but winking and giggling with its silly competitor, sharing a knowing joke. But is the joke on them or us?
(featured image Mark Buckawicki)