A bullying culture made normal

By Stephanie Starlet

Stephanie Starlet
Credit Paul Cox

Stephanie is a well versed actor with a background in journalism and music. As well as contributing articles to various national press titles, she is also undertaking a Law LLB

That once legendary British press that journalists across the globe would look to as a benchmark of serious balanced journalism is worryingly and woefully sick, hanging on to a shred of dignity by the end of its deformed talons.

With the legal proceedings by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, after an onslaught of abuse that the couple have received and an invasion of their personal lives and right to privacy including hacking, our minds are of course taken back to the atrocities that occurred in Paris with his own Mother Diana. It’s hard for anyone to imagine being on the receiving end of being hunted and lied about by the press on such a relentless scale, but Britain has become so incredibly famed for this type of journalism, it has become normalised.

Our bullying culture is out of control

Even though the Sussex’s won their case in its entirety and left the UK for the sake of their mental health, allowing them to speak their truth for the first time in years to Oprah Winfrey, here in the UK we see yet more media bullying, their punishment perhaps for daring to take them on. When Caroline Flack took her own life, we heard cries of ‘why didn’t she speak up?‘ and here we have a woman putting herself on the line owning up to mental health issues and it continues worse than ever. Clearly the closure of the News of the World group has had little effect on the behaviour of many journalists.

With print sales for the majority of the nationals at all-time lows, with the rise of digital media, we are seeing a rise in shock tactic, sensationalistic, sound bite journalism. Katy Hopkins, and others like her, can turn a disgustingly offensive tweet into multiple thousands of pounds. Journalists like Piers Morgan, the former sacked editor of the Daily Mirror and ironically the embittered and jilted date of Meghan Markle, linked to the phone hacking scandal of Diana herself, is the king of generating net traffic tweets and response from his trading in offence or controversy. His obsession and relentless tweets about Meghan verge on stalking and are certainly harassment and defamation.

Journalism needs intensive care and fast

Media groups need to show advertisers and sponsors that they have numbers. Digital hits and traffic generated towards a newspaper group or television programme have turned into the new currency, just how they get those hits is irrelevant. What kind of sick world do we live in when this tweet from Katy Hopkins can go viral and in so doing turn into profit?

Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look a bit ‘Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984’, but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb. They are survivors.

Hopkins though famous for her offensive tweets and comments is far from alone in this type of cashing in. It is believed by many that Trump himself was generating huge amounts of money from tweeting. In a recent ‘reality’ TV show Gemma Collins boasts that she earnt £75.000 from just 3 tweets, highlighting what strange times we live in. This mockery of journalism only enhances all the other problems that go along side of it.

A recent report from the think tank OECD states that England has the worst statistics of cyber bullying, suicide rates for young people aged between 10 to 24 is at a 19 year high according to the Office for National Statistics. Is there any wonder that young people that are surrounded by Twitter wars of battling ‘celebrities ‘have normalised this type of behaviour? No surprise then that Prince Harry recently announced his support of Greta Thunberg stating that you cannot deny science and stressing the urgency in making climate changes.

But just how can Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old girl, be the victim of such disgusting international trolling? Memes are going viral. In Italy, an effigy of her hangs from a bridge depicting her as hung, an Iowa teacher is suspended for posting that he doesn’t have his sniper rifle to hand. Sky news Chris Kenny called her a ‘hysterical teenager’ that needed to be cared for. Jeremy Clarkson called her a spoilt brat and dedicated a Sun column entirely to her stating that she should be grateful to the generation before her, and this coming from a man who punched a producer because his dinner was cold that ended up costing him over £100.000 in damages. Just who is the spoilt brat?

Whatever happened to Utilitarianism?

These responses are predominantly from middle aged conservative males, typically what are referred to as ‘gammons’. Why does she create such a response? There is clearly a heavy dose of misogyny in play. We are witnessing a generation gap land in the faces of men that are not willing to give up their delusions of power to a teenager. Greta Thunberg, who has been a favourite for the Nobel Peace Prize in recent years, does not sugar coat her message, she delivers her words with the seriousness they deserve and does not use a Hollywood style PR delivery. This cold Nordic approach has some seething.

The UK main stream media is predominantly of a right-wing bias that has created division with its handling of Brexit that has undoubtedly led to a sharp rise in hate crimes. This dangerous press goes hand in hand with statistics and the propaganda that exists is alarming. Facts seem less relevant than ever. Tory politicians have recently stated that it was the Conservatives that created the NHS when everyone knows it was Nye Bevan, in fact nurses are often taught this in their training!

The majority of the media’s agenda is no longer trusted by the younger generations and nearly all the main tabloids ownerships have offshore accounts in tax havens, hence their bias of Corbyn who along with the EU wanted to see reform to huge tax loopholes, the global corruption issue that never gets true reform.

The tabloids are losing the younger generation

Rugby legend Gareth Thomas’ life was made disgustingly and unnecessarily traumatised by a journalist telling his parents of his HIV status before he could do so himself, and tried blackmailing him into doing a story with them or they would expose him. This atrocity should not require an expensive legal team to seek a remedy in a just world, it should not happen. The power the press wields is way out of control and reminiscent of pre-WW2, the bullying culture is at an all-time high.

Leave EU recently published a mocked-up photo of Angela Merkel in a heil pose with the words ‘we didn’t win two world wars to be pushed around by a kraut’ something clearly and urgently needs to give. The majority of British tabloid headlines are so low it would be an insult to wrap chips in them. One can hope that Royal civil cases might make a dent but let’s not hold our breath, the backlash has been disgusting to witness. We are witnessing the desperate lows the media are now resorting to in this bully culture of shock click bait economics.

What we can do is not buy them, not click on them and do not create the traffic they so desperately crave, become a journalistic connoisseur! The only way we can end the madness is to starve their net hits and pockets, choose your reading carefully and have faith in the younger generation like Greta – Be a thinker not a sheep – always read between the lines and be your own editor and until such time that the Judiciary catch up to the digital age of mass defamation and libel, we are all responsible to enact the changes so desperately required.

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