Exeter, Devon UK • Jun 21, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Comment The news up for sale: The Telegraph and UK media

The news up for sale: The Telegraph and UK media

Gracie Moore, print Editor-in-Chief, explores the sale of the Telegraph and the role media ownership plays in the political landscape
3 min read
Written by
David Hawgood, Wikimedia Commons

Conservative MPs are worried about the Daily Telegraph falling into foreign hands as the Barclay family are in the process of paying off £1.1 billion in loans (with the help of UAE-based International Media Investments groups with links to the Emirati royal family). Five of the MPs have expressed their concern about this by writing to the UK’s Culture Secretary, Business Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister.

Former chief of CNN, Jeff Tucker, has been linked to the Barclay family plan. He runs Redbird IMI, in which this UAE-based group is an investor. As part of the deal, Redbird would be able to convert its debt into shares of the Telegraph, effectively giving it control of the newspaper. The debt is currently held by Lloyd’s bank which has expressed the desire to have its money returned. At the moment, hedge fund manager Paul Marshall, DMGR and News UK media groups are still running alongside Redbird but their efforts could be fruitless if this allowance for the Barclay family’s debt converting to shares goes ahead.

The problem with this private ownership is that, undoubtedly, political stances come into play and the objectivity of the news can be compromised. For example, corporate owners may have economic interests that distort the way news is reported. This can be in the form of products that they endorse that would therefore never gain a bad reputation within the news regardless of its efficacy or public success. Also, if the newspaper holds a particular political stance, it is easy for other parties or MPs of other parties to be vilified in the news when compared to other newspapers’ reports of the same stories.

The problem with this private ownership is that, undoubtedly, political stances come into play and the objectivity of the news can be compromised.

Another concern that may come to fruition in the news under this kind of ownership is the lack of diversity within the news stories. Media ownership concentration can lead to a lack of diversity because when a selective number of entities control a large portion of the media, there is a risk that homogeneity is presented in the stories that are covered and the perspectives that are brought to light. After fighting so hard for so long, marginalised groups will further sink into this margin as news becomes less informed. We live in a democracy and therefore it is important that all voices are heard and that the news sources remains inclusive.

In 2021, an Australian Senate committee issued a scathing indictment of Robert Murdoch’s News Corp, calling it the country’s “clearest example of a troubling media monopoly”. This committee also recommended that judicial inquiry into media diversity, ownership and regulation. The report concluded that Australia’s media regulation needs major changes. News Corp owns two-thirds of the country’s metropolitan print mastheads and some of Australia’s most popular news websites. There has been a petition signed by no less than 50,000 people which states that “Australians who hold contrary views have felt intimidated into silence. These facts chill free speech and undermine public debate.” The problem is that there are threats to media diversity after “too many laws threaten journalists with jail, too many documents are top secret and too many whistleblowers are published when they should be protected.”

Murdoch’s aggressive behaviour can also be seen through his attack on AAP Newswire which he sought to replace with his own NCA NewsWire. The Financial Review also reported that its agenda-driven programmes are radicalising the Liberal Party and Nations base, persuading more MPs to the far right. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described News Corp as “cancer on democracy” and another former Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull has labelled it “pure propaganda”.

There have been a number of arguments for how Murdoch media is particularly disparaging towards powerful women within pop culture or politics compared to men and it shows that with a little bit of money in your pocket, you can entirely sway the politics or ethical views of a country, as is happening in Australia. They have a monopoly that should strike fear into the hearts of a nation.

To consume ethical news, one must look to the sources with the most strict code of conduct for their journalists. Those which are tough on things like plagiarism, fabulism or exaggeration. Many consumers of the news criticise mainstream media outlets but these are the examples of the sources which are the most ethical. Among a world of celebrities, influencers and even politicians who can spread falsehood, it’s important that these strict news sources are trusted as the more ethical places from which to consume the news.

Among a world of celebrities, influencers and even politicians who can spread falsehood, it’s important that these strict news sources are trusted as the more ethical places from which to consume the news

The moguls with money are the ones who control our news consumption and this control is reminiscent of dystopian novels such as George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Putting a price tag on such a pivotal point of our daily lives (the news) has had and will continue to have dangerous socio-political consequences.

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