Down among the Press Lords

Writing about the press by Andrew O’Hagan, Ross McKibbin, Jenny Diski, James Meek, Suzanne Moore, Mary-Kay Wilmers, Alan Rusbridger, Thomas Nagel and Raymond Williams.

Who’s the real cunt? Dacre’s Paper

Andrew O’Hagan, 1 June 2017

The Daily Mail is like the drunken lout at a party who can’t get anyone to like him. Suddenly all the girls are sluts and all the men are poofs and he’s swinging at the chandelier before being huckled outside to vomit on the lawn.

Murdoch seems driven by insatiable ambition. He is never satisfied. Nothing appears complete, and the old man shows no sign of abandoning the struggle – especially as his heirs (his children) now publicly quarrel over the patrimony. What makes Rupert run? Money, power, glory, the business itself? 

Mirror Images: Piers Morgan

Jenny Diski, 31 March 2005

I can see that if you are 28 and editor of the News of the World, then you are 30 and getting £175,000 a year for editing the Mirror, until nine years later when you get the sack and score a reported £1.2 million for your reminiscences, you might be inclined to advise people not to take life too seriously.

The internet hasn’t so much changed people’s relationship to news as altered their self-awareness in the act of reading it. Before, we were isolated recipients of the news; now, we are self-consciously members of groups reacting to news in shared ways.

Phwoar! Amanda Platell

Suzanne Moore, 6 January 2000

These days swearing occasionally or having a glass of wine at lunchtime is enough to qualify you as a bit of a character. As newspapers become less important, however, journalists become more self-important, especially the ones that report from the front line of their own lifestyles. 

Lady Rothermere’s Fan

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 7 November 1985

That her husband was a rich and powerful press tycoon was something which, in later accounts, Ann always played down: ‘I regarded newspapers as I did the arrival of groceries and milk and paid but little attention,’ she wrote in 1955 to her brother.

Down among the Press Lords

Alan Rusbridger, 3 March 1983

A modest degree of influence was apparently not enough for many barons. Horace Greeley ran for President, Randolph Hearst ran for Governor. Northcliffe ran for Parliament: Cecil King simply wanted to run the country.

Information Cocoons: The internet

Thomas Nagel, 5 July 2001

Cass Sunstein seems to believe that exposure to unsought information or divergent opinions is for most people like advertising: they can’t avoid it, as the price of getting what they are really after; they read newspapers or magazines or watch television news for their own narrow purposes, and are then shown other things that they would not have included if they had the choice. Most people are not such control freaks, however: they have a general curiosity and desire that not everything in their lives be planned.

Isn’t the news terrible?

Raymond Williams, 3 July 1980

Let us face it then: the news has been very bad lately. But it is very difficult to be sure how much of this badness has been in the events themselves, and how much in their intense and relentless interpretation by the authorities.

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