Read all abaht it! (with a fluffy surprise at the end)

One of the first things I used to set up when doing any kind of PR campaign was a media monitoring service.

The next step was usually disagreeing with whoever was paying for it.

Because what the men at the top (I never had a female client) usually regarded as successful PR was featuring in, or on, the media they themselves read, listened to or watched.

Yes, what top men valued were the elite, small circulation, low-audience media. The ‘opinion former’ and ‘influencer’ media, not the ones that influenced a majority of the population.

I understand. It’s easy to ignore what you don’t respect or like. And social media have perfected the process. Just click what you like and block what you don’t want to see. Easy peasy. Erect a big fence round your comfort zone.

Someone related to me unfriended me earlier this year on Facebook. We’re polar opposites on the political spectrum but he assures me that’s not the reason – he just wants to restrict his ‘friending’ to family. By which I have to assume he means his own blood relatives.

I thought I might be offended, but I’m not. I must be growing up at last.

I tell you this because I’m interested in what we regard as normal, what’s acceptable in this cowardly new online world.

I’m interested in this all-devouring online society of ours and what it’s doing to our social tolerances. And to where we harvest our news.

I’ve found my own group of ‘friends’ on Facebook widening – for practical reasons – to include people even I find radical as my involvement in a refugee aid movement grows. So now I see more than I seek – but, I like it. I feel my boundaries shifting.

Which is why I decided to tackle the ‘echo chamber’ effect of Twitter. It’s so easy for me to agree with you and follow you; then you follow me; then we follow the same media, celebs, commentators, etc – so our shared opinions reverberate endlessly in the same selective space.

So I followed a load of people with whom I profoundly disagree.

Next I decided we needed to revise our choice of weekend newspapers.

For years we’ve been getting a conservative one and a lefty one each day, for balance.

Recently the lefty one left me (ha, sorry) sighing with frustration as it turned its back on the new, genuinely lefty, leader of the Labour party.

Plus, the items featured in its magazine are so hysterically expensive it has me foaming at the mouth. Not a good thing when you’re eating a croissant with strawberry jam.

So now, on Saturday, we take that old establishment standby, The Times, complete with ‘Court Circular’, and, for balance, the independent Independent. On Sunday it’s also the Independent, plus the supposedly lefty but anti-Corbyn Observer.

Weekdays I used to start the day with the radio, then Twitter, no paper. Then one day something hit me right between my surprisingly (to me) biased eyes.

The Morning Star. More accurately, @M_Star_Online.

The Morning Star, formerly the Daily Worker, was founded in 1930 by the Communist Party of Great Britain. It’s now broadly left, reader-owned, but still retains Communist roots. Which of course in the normal world of middle class, middle aged, educated people translates into BAD.

And what really struck me like a wet fish as I scrolled down my Twitter feed, was this:
Yes, the Morning Star has a poetry editor.

Does any other national newspaper possess such a thing?

I don’t know.

But it was enough to set me off.

I decided to try it out, just Monday to Friday.

I did get into a bit of a hot sweat when I first thought about it.

Would everyone think I was a Trotskyist?

Would I be put on a national register of subversives?

If I was, would it matter?

After all, I’ve already lost one Conservative Facebook friend – and I’m feeling just fine 😉

Well, my newsagent didn’t bat an eyelid when I asked him to order it (though he did keep his head bowed low over the counter).

DSCN1171But, just in case the country’s headlong dive into fascist dictatorship happens more quickly than I anticipate, I decided we’d get the i (a mini-version of the Independent) too. Make it clear that we’re just crazy, multi-newspaper reading eccentrics.

It has so far been, and I hope will continue to be, a fascinating experience.

I enjoy the i’s concise crossword when it arrives home, battered, from the daily commute into Liverpool.

And the breadth of coverage in the very small, cash-poor Morning Star is, genuinely, extraordinary and livens up my lunch break.

The word ‘comrade’ crops up now and again, it’s true – but the titbits I glean from all around the world are truly educational. And the points of view expressed are rarely seen elsewhere.

All of which is making me reassess those norms we all accept all our life. Or rather, norms I’ve accepted all my life.

As in:

Morning Star – ooh – scary – Commie – bad-unacceptable.

Daily Telegraph/Times – establishment- respectable – good -acceptable.

So the Morning Star has become acceptable – to me.

But what of the good, acceptable Telegraph? Well, look at this,  a political party leader ridiculed on its front page using remembrance day poppies … as exposed to non-readers by the Artist Taxi Driver (a performance artist, find his work on You Tube). artist

It’s a really interesting topic, this and way too much (already) for a short post.

But I’m going to leave you with a rather more independent view of our media. A fun one.

I decided to look up reader profiles for all the papers we’re reading now, here:

They all have one thing in common with the Daily Telegraph reader. Yes, even the Commie Morning Star.

Their profiled readers’ pet of choice is …

a cat.

We, by the way, have no pets.

And if we did, it would be a dog.

A Jack Russell.*

That’s radicals for you. You just can’t pin us down. 😉


*Sorry, Elvis

Elvis, Texas's most idiosyncratic cat

Elvis, Texas’s most idiosyncratic cat


This entry was posted in Britain now & then, Thinking, or ranting, or both and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Read all abaht it! (with a fluffy surprise at the end)

  1. Thel says:

    A Jack Russell would destroy those African sandals, not embrace them!

    Glad you’re back!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Judy Barnes says:

    Interesting and thought provoking as ever Mary.Thank you.I’m impressed by the depth and breadth of your daily reading and resolve,unconvincingly,to read another paper (shamefully admitting that I often dont find time to read one) .You are absolutely right that we all fall into the easiness of blocking out opinions,slants and people that don’t match our inclinations -certainly through social media.In real life however,it’s the diversity that is so enriching isn’t it.

    Scrumpy would be very proud.x


    • I LOVE SCRUMPY! He’s the best footballing Jack Russell ever! Hope the post didn’t come over as holier-than-thou – I don’t feel it at all. And I don’t read ALL those papers – we share them and discuss – mostly at dinner in the evening or at the weekend. Yes – diversity in real life is enriching and I suppose that’s why I seek out more on paper and online as I live such a solitary life! 😦 Thanks for commenting and hope all’s well at the best up-and-coming place to stay in that lovely county of yours and that the wood is releasing its energy too to your creativity. x


  3. EllaDee says:

    I haven’t gone so far as to un-friending people on FB but I have hidden some [sadly, family members who I can’t escape] who persist in broadcasting their xenophobic and other unpalatable-to-me views. Yesterday during some idle Sunday afternoon TV watching that I only had one eye on the program changed to Andrew Bolt and I became so enraged at his ‘conservative’ views I had to get the G.O. to switch channels. He was unperturbed as he said most of the people he encounters have similar views. Unlike the G.O. and you I’m not ready for diversity of views. Nor do I buy newspapers, except the local Nambucca Guardian when we’re at TA, where the newsagent is the G.O.’s cousin. But I read varied news media online, only discriminating those I need to subscribe to aka pay for, which I will not. Your newsagent was probably just happy to sell another paper and hoped you’d be tempted to supplementary purchases as well. Times can’t be as easy for newsagents as they once were.
    I’m sure it wouldn’t take much scrutiny of my reading habits and opinions to diagnose me as a cat loving Green. But I like dogs too 🙂


    • I’ll email you about this – there’s a little more to the unfriending story …
      I find the opinions – some of them – I’m seeing exasperating and worse – there is a terrible cartoon in a right wing paper today that echoes very closely a Nazi cartoon – rats and refugees versus rats and Jews. People never cease to amaze me with the depths to which they will sink and their inability to empathise.
      Re the newspapers, it is only a matter of time before the bill arrives and I suspect I will reconsider this largesse to the ‘Chocolate Box’ newsagent in Ainsdale fairly soon!
      Cats love me. It’s not really reciprocated! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Mary, here in Egypt, if it wasn’t for the net, I’d go stark raving mad. I like your strategy for news collecting -it reminds me of my previous marriage because I spent most of my time while at home hiding in my huge walkin closet (doubled as a sewing room and nursery) listening to my inherited 1960’s shortwave radio. It was in the 80’s, still USSR and the english broadcasts from there were wonderful – it was clearly propagandist, but then again I learned more about the cia’s nonsense in nicaragua than the average american. Germany, France, Turkey, Greece,Spain, Australia, everyone had english broadcasts at set times everyday and it was my biggest treat to listen to as many as I could as often as possible.
    I have no idea if shortwave radio broadcasts are still bouncing out there in the sky…do you? At one time it was the most popular means of communication in remote places, and especially popular in africa. Did you ever get into this?


    • Hi again Aisha. You’ve reminded me of days under the bedclothes as a teen listening to American forces radio in Europe, among other things! What a picture, you listening to subversive stations in your closet – while sewing?? I agree, you know when you hear/read that some of what you are seeing/hearing is propaganda but you also realise that there is an inherent selective bias in everything and that there is so much missing from the regular media. I’ve never had a shortwave radio myself – but what a great idea, I might just do that next! In fact I did buy a world radio for my husband one year for his use on the digs but I don’t think he ever used it – too busy! The BBC World Service still broadcasts on shortwave in Africa and presumably elsewhere – when we are there in remote places I love to hear it when visiting people – it’s so much more informative. Here everything is just attention grabbing headlines and the same old same old repeated between the various media. Quite a few people – suprising who they are too – tell me they shop around for news among Al Jazeera and Russian news sources to complement this country’s Channel 4 TV station. I don’t really know why I decided to get real papers, it may have to end at some point as it is quite pricey but I’m still learning right now. So much available I could spend huge amounts of time on top of the money distracting myself from writing… Thanks for provoking thought, as usual. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • oh, yes, the BBC World Service was another great broadcast! yes, sewing, nursing my daughter, drawing… I did most of my work on Achilles’ Shield in there, with the SW radio to keep me company!
        the website is really old (designed for ’90’s screensize, 640×480) and needs overhauling to a nice WP site, but it still looks pretty good on a tablet, if you’re interested in ancient greeks and trojans…

        btw we’ve got a good sat dish here and get all the news channels (it’s the only thing I care to watch) – I guess it’s a testament to American freedom that there is a channel for Al Jazeera America! We get BBC in arabic here, too, Mohamed likes it alot. lol, I prefer English, I’m such a diehard (aka lazy), I hate to learn arabic. There’s only so many hours in the day, right?! peace and blessings ;^) ❤ ❤ ❤


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