Rupert Murdoch, not the leader of the free press, like some Italians would like to believe. Photo thanks to World Economic forum
This might seem like an obvious comment to make, but Rupert Murdoch is not an all enlightened leader of liberal journalists bringing the truth to the door steps of billions of people. I say this, because just recently there has been a wave of people who seem to be getting rather confused about this issue.
The Times recently ran the lead column of “Google’s decision to pull out of China was the right one” (I will come back to this later). Equally, I recently had the very bizarre experience of attending a protest outside the European Commission about media monopolies in Italy, when friends of mine starting to suggest that Murdoch’s media empire represented a “truthful form of journalism”. This can surely only be the case when comparing it to the lowest forms of media monopolies, such as is found in Italy.
Lets make this abundantly clear, Murdoch runs a media empire which has sticky fingers in quite a few pies; to name a few…The sun, The Times (UK), Fox news, BSkyB, The News of the World, Star TV, The Australian, New York Post and The Wall Street Journal. This would be bad, just by itself, but this does not take into consideration Murdoch’s political nature (that’s right it’s not only Berlusconi who has political interests). Murdoch has a long history of sticking his nose in.
Throughout the Thatcher years, he aligned himself closely with the Iron Lady and soon after that The Sun accredited itself for ensuring John Major won his election in 1992. Since then however (until recently) he has thrown his weight behind New Labour. If Murdoch is one thing, he is pragmatic. In 2008, he flew Cameron on his private jet for talks predicting a New Labour implosion. It is not just in the UK, in the US; Fox news is notorious for its Republican bias. Yet, just recently there has been a reported “Truce” between Obama and Murdoch.
Perhaps, to try to live up to his Italian counterpart (who owns AC Milan FC), Murdoch offered 625 million pounds in 1998 in a bid to take over Manchester United FC. Then, the largest amount ever offered for a football club.
Murdoch is truly a pragmatist! To illustrate, lets look a little closer at his paper running the Google headline. Murdoch who, axed BBC world service off its Star satellite service Asia after it mentioned the Tiananmen square massacre, ordered the publishing house Harper Collins to drop Chris Pattern’s memoirs of his time as governor of Hong Kong, encase they offend Beijing and paid 1 million dollars for the rights to publish the life story of Deng Xiaoping to get in with the Chinese government (All this can be found in the 22 Jan – 4 Feb Private Eye) is in no position to comment on Google’s activities. To call Google “parasites” for their action in China might seem just a little hypocritical.
Murdoch remains at the helm of the world’s second largest media outlets (after Disney), and I personally would not believe a word any of his outlets print!
Increasingly however, alternative media outlets have cropped up. Grass-root initiatives such as Indymedia provide first hand accounts of news without the necessity to make the millions of dollars that the likes of news corp. This organisation was born out of a frustration of lack of accurate coverage of the WTO protests in Seattle. We can take organisations like these with a small pinch of salt. Yet, I would trust these guys over Murdoch any day. I challenge anyone to read a couple copies of private eye and not become just a little sceptical.
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No to breast cancer. No to Page 3
Over the last year I have been part of a global movement that campaigns for the dignity of every patient. This global movement campaigns for the dignity of, among others, patients with breast cancer.
It is with sadness then that I saw the breast cancer campaigns group ‘CoppaFeel’ have teamed up with The Sun newspapers ‘page 3 girls’ – a relic of a misogynistic newspaper industry that almost by definition is devoid of dignity and respect.
The campaign will see The Sun newspaper every Tuesday dedicate the Page 3 girl slot to encourage women to check their breasts for signs of cancer.
While I of course, just like the ‘No to page 3 girls’ campaign, hope this campaign is a success and it encourages more girls to check their breasts, I feel saddened that The Sun have chosen, out of all the tools available to them, the overtly sexualised images of young girls to highlight this important issue.
In fact I struggle to think of a less appropriate medium in which to highlight this campaign. Page 3 is perhaps the most prominent icon of a culture that reduces women to mere objects and men to little more than objectifiers. This culture leaves some women feeling ashamed of their bodies and shy to ask for examinations.
As much as The Sun would like to think otherwise, the No to Page 3 campaign have collected testimony after testimony from girls who blame Page 3 and the sexist culture it perpetuates for their own understanding of their bodies and sex.
One recent account from a breast cancer patient comments:
“I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and had to have a quarter of my breast removed. I feel horrible and ugly and these images in Newspapers and films make me feel worse.”
Another testimony says:
“I compared myself to this picture and having no other pictures of what naked women are supposed to look like to refer to I judged myself in light of it. I grew to hate my body, I grew to hate myself.”
I wonder how David Dinsmore, the editor of The Sun, would answer the following question: Do you think Page 3 helps or hinders the girls that gave these testimonies to stand in front of a mirror and check their breasts?
This campaign will reach millions of people and will hopefully save lives. But in 6 months’ time when the campaign is all done and dusted what will we be left with?
We will still have one of our largest newspapers going to print daily where the largest photo is of a half-naked women. We will still have a culture where women’s breasts are stared at and not respected. And this, collectively, will do nothing to install a feeling of dignity and respect into women which in turn will only hinder the chances of women regularly checking themselves for signs of cancer.
The Independent today ran the headline – “Breast cancer charities criticise The Sun’s new Page Three ‘Check ’em Tuesday’ for trivialising the disease“. Good to see I am not the only one who feels like this!
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Filed under Gender, Media, Social comment
Tagged as blogs, No to page three, The Sun