Sheffield’s own Jon McClure, of the band Reverend and the Makers, made a vital point about a lack of impartiality in modern day journalism in the UK during a Good Morning Britain interview with Piers Morgan on Tuesday 9 October. This came after Taylor Swift’s decision to publicly back two Democrat candidates in the run up to next month’s US midterm elections.
Said McClure: “Taylor Swift is an artist, it’s the job of the artist to hold a mirror up to society, especially in this day and age when people in the journalism profession aren’t doing their job. We expect impartiality not of musicians but of journalists.”
Piers Morgan closed the conversation by saying “it’s my show”; fitting given the above comment. However, McClure’s point highlights a larger issue in British journalism.
Now, I do not believe that impartiality in the truest sense exists. We are humans, not robots. Even the decision to write an article about one subject is an omission of other information. In that sense this article is guilty of that. However, I am a failed builder – not a journalist.
A report by The Sutton Trust educational charity in 2016 showed that 51 per cent of the UK’s leading print journalists attended a fee paying school. However, that figure falls to just 7 per cent when the population as a whole is taken into account. Moreover, 54 per cent of that same group attended either Oxford or Cambridge. If we consider the whole profession of journalism, only 11 per cent come from working class backgrounds according to The Sutton Trust, compared with a national percentage of 46 per cent, according this time to figures from Ipsos MORI. It appears entirely unrealistic that such a disproportionate percentage of the population could represent the country at large, let alone relay information that reflect the experiences of every strata of society.
In fact, if we are to look at journalists generally, it is worrying that only 27 per cent of participants of a 2017 study (Ipsos MORI) stated their trust in them. Compare this with 91 per cent who said they trusted nurses, while at the other end of the spectrum, only 17 per cent trust politicians, (which tells its own story). Perhaps more damningly, in the World Press Freedom Index 2018, Britain ranked 40th; the second lowest of any country in Western Europe.
McClure’s comments highlight a worrying trend in British journalism. They emphasise the imbalance of the privately educated in the profession and spotlight a general distrust, which, according to the figures, may be entirely justified.
Image courtesy of Digitas Photos.