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In the UK, the two main political parties are Labour and Conservative. The others aren't really worth mentioning, everyone knows they're only fooling themselves, and will never be put in charge. But now that the media has established itself as a force to be reckoned with, newspapers can almost be considered political parties of their own. Take the Daily Mail, the fascist, middle class, minority-hating piece of toilet paper that it is. They have a manifesto - immigrants/asylum seekers/homosexuals are bad, family is good, moral standards must be upheld. They have constituents/voters - the readers. They have the MPs - the writers, researchers, sub-editors and reporters. They even have a leader, in the form of Paul Dacre, the editor, who whips his party up into a frenzy, and personally shapes the vision of the paper.

Not so? It's just a paper, is it? It doesn't have any effect on the country? This is a quote from a recent Guardian article* (22/2/01):

Earlier this month, one of its (the Daily Mail's) columnists, Simon Heffer, predicted that continued Labour rule would lead to 14m illegal immigrants in Britain, almost half the country's military personnel being disabled people, and "girls of nine" receiving "the morning-after pill from school dinner ladies". One of Blair's closest advisors concludes: "The Mail have gone into kill mode."

The Daily Mail has a large, middle class readership - 2,400,000 copies sold a day last year - if the paper wanted to change the government and the way people think, they could. Easily. Who's to say they haven't already? How many decisions have been affected, how many politicians gained/lost seats, how many times have things like the continuing failure to repeal Clause 28 happened? People believe what they read, despite our best efforts, especially when it's dressed up as respectable journalism. See, it's not a tabloid, like the Sun, but is actually a "compact newspaper". The advertising campaign (party political broadcast?) which had the slogan "Good reading always shows" was laughable, but was just another step in convincing people that this is a "proper" paper, and that you should believe what it tells you.

There's a Depeche Mode song called New Dress, which pretty much sums up this writeup. It talks about newspapers that put pictures of Princess Di's new dress all over the front page instead of important news stories about famine, murder, and intolerance (written before her death, obviously, but change the names and the song remains the same...) The chorus says: "You can't change the world / But you can change the facts / And when you change the facts / You change points of view / If you change points of view / You may change a vote / And when you change a vote / You may change the world." Think about that, before you believe a newspaper's spin on a particular story. Try and find out the facts for yourself, and then decide. Please. For everyone's sake.



* For the full article, go to www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4139958,00.html - it's very interesting, particular the reference to the Mail's "flirtation with fascism" in the 1930's...

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