As a trainee journalist, when people say bad things about the media industry I feel personally attacked.
I believe the media is an important part of every society. It should serve as the voice and mirror of the people, reflecting what is happening but also shouting about what should be happening. It is the belief that the media has the power to connect and unity people over likeminded ideas that birthed my first blog in 2012 and also pushed me to do a journalism degree.
Obviously, I am not that naive to think that the media is all good. Especially with the advancements of social media and the Internet, people crave information all the time about other people.
What are they doing? What are they wearing? Who are they with?
Maliciously and obsessively, publications are trying to gain views and likes above other companies and sites, and they do not care if they are dragging someone’s name, reputation, family and ultimately life through the mud to do it.
In a post nearly four years ago, I said: “The media report and promote essentially what people care about and what people want to know about. Sadly, this is generally bad news. How can we blame the media for the negative things that happen in the world when the media is virtually constructed by us?”
I may be biased but Paula-of-four-years-ago has got a point! The media is built on the principles of News Values – things that sell papers and get views, and generally it’s negative news. We, trainee journalists, are taught to find an ‘angle’ or ‘hook’ on any story, no matter how loose.
Now on to why I decided to write this post: Raheem Sterling.
I am barely a football fan. I don’t know anything about how good of a player Sterling is or anything like that. But what I do know is he seems to be targeted by Sports Journalism in the UK. His name is often in headlines, even in stories he has no relation to at all. You have to be delusional – or Piers Morgan – to not see it.
Here’s a Twitter thread of headline stories on footballer, Raheem Sterling.
[Thread] a selection of times when our national press have chosen to run stories on Raheem Sterling.
1. The one where Raheem was 'tired'. pic.twitter.com/6K3cHu6r7T
— Adam Keyworth (@adamkeyworth) May 28, 2018
If you have the stomach to get to the end of the thread, good on you. I couldn’t do it. This man seems to get attacked just for living life. And he’s not the only high-profile, black British man to have this same experience with the British press.
If a black person in London is caught doing something wrong, some publications will find a way to link it to Grime Rap artist Stormzy.
Here’s an example:
It's exactly what the Daily Mail did to Stormzy, and the 2nd screenshot shows it's a tactic. Still, Nadine's dog-whistling has done the job once you see the replies to the original tweet … pic.twitter.com/ajXG4qNy24
— Martin Baker (@ytfcbadger) May 21, 2018
Oh dear British media, why must the dragging down of successful black people be part of your news values? Why is there such a difference between how you report on white people with people of colour? Why must you link every story abut black people to knife crime or gang culture?
It makes me sick but it also fuels me to be part of the movement of people changing things. I appreciate the prominent black journalists who just are not having it. Thank you Hannah Ajala, Tobi Oredein, Charlene White, Tobi Akingbade, Yomi Adegoke and more for taking a seat at the table. Let’s keep speaking our truth and changing the game!
*Featured image from Paige Milian’s Instagram