My name is Clive and I am a newspaper snob. There you go – I’ve said it.
Anyone who knows me knows my thoughts on the tabloid press. I can’t help but feel that the views espoused in titles like the Daily Mail and the Express have a harmful impact on public attitudes. That may sound incredibly condescending (I suppose it is), but the moral posturing and conservative panic of these rags leave a nasty taste in the mouth.
If you bump into me in the newsagent, I’m likely to have The Guardian or The Independent tucked under my arm. If you sneak a look at my RSS reader, you’ll see a similar picture. I find the politics and attitudes of these two news sources broadly reflect my own (isn’t that the main reason anyone chooses the news provider they do?).
But the front page Wednesday’s Independent made me think. To celebrate the 50th birthday of the European Union, the entire front page had been given over to ‘50 Reasons to Love the EU‘. The ‘in-your-face’ single issue front page has become a trademark of The Independent over recent years, and this was a bold example.
While there were some good points (“Once-poor countries, such as Ireland, Greece and Portugal, are prospering“; “Free medical help for tourists“), many of the ‘reasons’ were rather tenuous and the facts behind some of their claims a little vague (“Britons now feel a lot less insular“; “British restaurants now much more cosmopolitan“).
Some were even contradictory: “Europe is helping to save the planet with regulatory cuts in CO2“; “Europe’s single market has brought cheap flights to the masses“. No secret had been made of the Independent’s enthusiatically pro-european stance. The Indy do as much as admit this with their final point: “Lists like this drive the Eurosceptics mad“.
Though I agreed with the majority of the points being made on the front page, I found the approach a bit too close to the opinionated pieces I find myself sneering at in other papers. I wasn’t reading anything that challenged me – just my existing views simplified into a tabloid approach.
So I suppose what I like and dislike in a newspaper (or news website) is a combination of two questions: Do I sympathise which the political outlook? And do I appreciate the manner and subtlety with which those views are put across?
Looking at both questions, the likes of the Sun, Mail and Express go straight in the bin, failing instantly on both counts. Papers like the Telegraph and the Times, while seeing some issues from a slightly different perspective to me, are undeniably readable, while the Independent, as we’ve seen here, manages to take views I share and present them in an increasingly irritating style.
So where does that leave me? With the Guardian, I suppose.