Yet again, we have another appalling piece of so-called journalism rearing its head in the name of clickbait and scandal today. The Northern Irish edition of the Sunday Times published an article by Kevin Myers entitled: ‘Sorry ladies — equal pay has to be earned’. It’s a disgustingly sexist and anti-Semitic article that should not have been published (in my editorial opinion). And by midday on Sunday, it seems the editor came round to that opinion too: he released a statement apologising for causing ‘considerable distress and upset’ and the article was taken down.
The uproar on social media was predictable, people were rightly outraged by the Holocaust-denying author’s outdated and discriminatory view on society. Yet, as repulsive and abhorrent this article was, I know it is only a mere matter of time before another equally revolting and hatred-inducing article will appear. And the outrage will pour out over social media. And nothing will be done. And time will pass. And another horrid article will be published. And on and on it goes. It makes me feel very sick.
This is a far bigger issue than one ignorant writer. Most people were questioning the editor — how did this article even get published?! How did such tripe get past the numerous sub-editors and editors that will have proofed and signed off on it? Well, the editor didn’t have an answer, he simply gave an apology for causing offence rather than explaining why he published it. It was such a weak response and way more than an ‘error in judgement’.
I am so angry that editors will not stand up to the pressures of clicks, likes, and ultimately, shit journalism in the name of money.
You may think me naive, but I am not. I work for national newspapers, I am well aware of the financial constraints facing print journalism and the news industry generally. But the fall in advertising revenue is no excuse for sloppy, morally-wayward, and offensive journalism.
I am disappointed in editors for not standing up for journalistic integrity and consciously not protecting the rights and freedoms of all in their work. What’s worse though, is that every editor knows what they are doing when they publish articles which set out to antagonise and divide society. It’s all for the clicks. It’s all for the money. And if some of the facts are skewed and things are taken out of context then fine, at least the controversy will bring in some money. It’s disgusting. Where on earth is your backbone?
Working in this industry, I find myself having to defend the press a lot and sadly, I often agree with the criticism. It’s so disheartening.
Journalism can do incredible things and it can change the world for the better. It has changed the world for the better. Holding people, companies, governments to account is an essential part of society; educating and opening people’s minds to new parts of the world is vital to encourage open and well-rounded individuals who challenge and think about those around us. Journalism is so important. But when editors refuse to stand up for journalistic integrity, it undermines the whole thing and no-one trusts journalists.
My fear is this epidemic of extreme views is only going to get worse. The more controversial, the more clicks. It’s a bleak outlook for journalism and ruins the work of thousands of great journalists around the world who are trying to make society a better place. It’s bullshit.