Competing Interests in the Mainstream Media

December 5, 2008 at 9:02 pm (Media) (, , , , , , , , )

Here, it was suggested that

Articles in medical journals more and more routinely carry ‘declaration of interest’ type information. Perhaps we should be thinking about similar for writers of articles on health matters in mainstream media?

Now I think that’s an excellent idea, but let us for a moment go even further and imagine a world where articles on all matters in the mainstream media carried declarations of competing interests. Because it will give me a chance to have a go at the Daily Mail.

Following the broadcast of an unfunny and offensive telephone call from a couple of comedians to an actor, the Daily Mail went on the offensive (see here) and called for heads to roll at the BBC. I wonder how many people realise that the Daily Mail and General Trust group owns 20% of ITN – a direct competitor of the BBC. See this pdf for more on the interests of UK media groups – page eighteen shows the DMGT group interests, among others. The Times, the Sun, the News of the World, The Sunday Times are all owned by News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch’s media organisation (that also owns a large stake in BSkyB). It is possible that papers like the Daily Mail aren’t just opposed to the BBC because they are right-wing reactionaries who disagree with the BBC’s approach to news broadcasts (not nearly enough racist bilge about asylum seekers killing the Queen’s swans and lowering house prices) – they also have an interest in knocking the BBC.

Is the Brand-Ross fiasco the end of the Daily Mail’s moral campaign against the Beeb? Er, no. Sadly, it continues. With a complaint about nudity on the radio. Yes – on the radio. Shocking, isn’t it? This is, of course, the People’s Medical Journal and they bring us important stories about science. Like this one about the formula for perfect breasts. Handily, the Mail provide pictures of celebrity cleavage in case we didn’t know what breasts were. Then there’s coverage of celebrities. They didn’t used to allow porn mags to put pictures of nipples on the front as they were deemed to rude to be seen in newsagents. The Daily Mail, luckily for aspiring young perverts, will provide nipple shots on their website: – purveyors of smut and filth. I think this could be a resigning matter. Well if it were the BBC then the Mail would be wailing for sackings and/or resignations. The Mail, however, will continue to put pictures of breasts on their website and, at the same time, castigate the BBC for having low standards of moral decency. The Mail do have some quality news stories that I can link to. Well, I assume they do but so far all I’ve been able to find is stuff like this: more Daily Mail rudeness. For the Daily Mail to shrilly pontificate about the BBC being “in the gutter” is ridiculous hypocrisy. But I’ve got a link to something that can illustrate the point better than anything I would have written.

So here’s a couple of links to pieces by Charlie Brooker. First up, his piece on the Brand-Ross fiasco (sample quote: “the Daily Mail – not so much a newspaper as an idiot’s guidebook issued in bite-size daily instalments”). Secondly, his latest Guide column is here and it makes the point that:

if TV broadcast the kind of material you see in the press – if it paid women in lingerie to recount graphic celebrity fuck’n’tell stories, or shoved its cameras up the skirts of girls exiting taxis so viewers could wank to the sight of their knickers, or routinely broadcast grossly misleading and openly one-sided news reports designed to perpetuate fear and bigotry – if the box in the corner smeared that shit on its screen for 10 seconds a night, it’d generate a pile of complaints high enough to scrape the crust from the underside of Mars.

Which, I think you will agree, is quite beautifully put.



  1. Nash said,

    “They didn’t used to allow porn mags to put pictures of nipples on the front as they were deemed to rude to be seen in newsagents.”

    It is still illegal for Porn mags to display nipples and pubes on the cover.

    Is it worth pointing out that Richard Desmond, owner of the Daily Mail also owns ‘Red Hot TV’ a satelite porn channel?

  2. jdc325 said,

    I think Dirty Desmond is responsible for the Express and the Star rather than the Mail, but yeah – it’s amusing when the owner of a porn channel also has a newspaper that prints articles like this one: Widdecombe on Whitehouse.

  3. jdc325 said,

    Meant to put this link in my post – Holford Watch have written about an article in the Economist and a subsequent clarification regarding competing interests.

  4. Nash said,

    Sorry, I meant the Express. Both are bog roll so it’s easy to confuse them :-)

  5. Claire said,

    Well, they say the best pictures are on the radio! I love it that the DM explains that the Barrowman bits “were not actually shown”. That couldn’t be because it’s the radio, could it? The National Gallery is obviously off limits for DM scribes.

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