Neviim Tovim, blogs by Gillian Gould Lazarus

MSM and Me

Posted on: July 19, 2019

As a young married woman, I liked getting newspapers delivered, especially as I was at home with the baby for most of the day. I got the Guardian, the Radio Times, the Jewish Chronicle and the Observer. My parents used to get the Daily Herald, the Guardian, the New Statesman and the Jewish Chronicle.

Later on, the Guardian’s animus towards Israel donned its high-visibility jacket and I switched first to the Independent, then The Times.

For a while in the 1990s, I stopped getting the Jewish Chronicle because it reported with depressing regularity on antisemitic incidents and the fervent anti-Zionism making an appearance in universities and trade unions.

I got a computer in about 1994, because I needed a word processor and Hebrew software (Dagesh. Anyone remember it?)  for my master’s thesis.

Newspapers were expensive and I gave up hard copies but I worked for WH Smith and saw all the newspapers at work. In the canteen on my lunchbreak, I’d spread them out, tabloids and broadsheets, and compare front pages. The tabloids had headlines about celebrities and royal personages and sometimes they had news about people whose names I didn’t recognize:  chauffeurs and butlers of the royals, footballers’ wives, celebrities’ other halves.

At some point there was the transition to getting news from online sources. I also began to use online dictionaries, English and other, rather than balancing a large tome on my knees. There was something called My Space which seemed to be hard work and Friends Reunited where people aired grievances about unkind teachers of years gone by.

Then there was Facebook, as we all know, and Twitter, recommended by Stephen Fry as being good fun, so I joined it in 2009.

I didn’t encounter the term MSM, meaning Mainstream Media until the resistible rise of Jeremy Corbyn, although the online alternative media appeared mostly before 2015. Some of these alternative sources of news saw the light of day in the period of the Conservative/LibDem Coalition and came into their own in the age of Corbynism.

Another Angry Voice was established in 2010 as an alternative to the mainstream press. Steve Walker’s The Skwawkbox first appeared in 2012  and Kerry-Anne Mendoza’s The Canary in 2015, with Evolve Politics created the same year. Aaron Bastani’s Novara Media goes back as far as 2011.

Meanwhile, some Corbynist ‘brocialists’ – the angry not-so-young men of the left – contribute regularly to the Guardian, Owen Jones foremost  among them, even though the consensus on Facebook Labour forums is that The Guardian is a Zionist rag.

The BBC is denounced daily by both right and left. At the present time, the Corbynist left are infuriated by BBC1’s Panorama, which showed John Ware’s film about interference in defence of alleged antisemites from the Labour leader’s office. Infuriated is an understatement. They are organizing against the BBC, John Ware and the whistleblowers who appeared in the programme. There are petitions on the go and a forum called The Prole Star has posted a request for Corbynist Jews to testify in an alternative film, defending Corbyn. It should not be difficult to find volunteers. Jewish Voice for Labour, Free Speech on Israel and Just Jews exist only to defend Corbyn from charges of antisemitism and to attack those who accuse him. There is a discernible overlap of members so it is possible that the total membership of all three groups does not exceed the membership of any one of them.

It seems that all sides have a beef with the BBC. My own is as follows. When Southern Israel comes under attack from Hamas rockets, I hear about it from Israelis, tweeting from their shelters. The BBC does not report it until Israel fires back, generally after a day or two of rocket fire from Gaza; then the BBC runs a headline along the lines of ‘Israel has attacked Gaza.’

There is such a stigma attached to tabloid newspapers that one is reluctant to cite them as a source for a story, yet it was the Daily Mail which did much of the legwork on the ‘Wreathgate’ story. The culpable history of the Mail is mentioned very often by Corbynists: the Mail’s support for fascism in the 1930s and, more recently, their absurd attack on Ralph Miliband as part of their offensive against Ed Miliband but even a stopped clock is right twice a day. I’ve become accustomed to being asked ‘Did you read that in the Fail?’ (a derogatory nickname for The Mail) when I refer to Labour antisemitism, although only very rarely did I read it in The Mail.

I used to watch Channel 4 News regularly as I liked Cathy Newman and Krishnan Guru-Murthy, but was put off by seeing Jon Snow shouting ‘Fuck the Tories’ at the Glastonbury Festival of 2017, the year of Oh Jeremy Corbyn.

Speaking to HuffPost UK about the report, Jon Snow said in a statement: “After a day at Glastonbury, I can honestly say I have no recollection of what was chanted, sung or who I took over 1000 selfies with”. (from NME, 28 June 2017)

I admire hugely the well-informed, intelligent television journalists who are despised by Corbynists: Laura Kuenssberg, Andrew Neil, Jo Coburn, Emily Maitlis, Robert Peston, Andrew Marr, Emma Barnett.

I search out newspaper articles by Corbynsceptic journalists such as Nick Cohen, David Aaronovitch, Raphael Behr, Jonathan Freedland, Jessica Elgot, Janice Turner, Nicole Lampert and many others.

I listen to radio or television news most of my waking hours now and, while I listen, I read news online. Twitter is very often the first source of breaking news.

I exercise self-discipline to turn away from news. There are books to be read, good television to watch, pictures to paint and, even more importantly, I have a family.

I tend to switch off news items about the suffering of children: items about illness, statelessness, child abuse, murder. One does not have to know about everything.

The most offensive thing said to me by hostile Twitterati is ‘child murderer.’ Anyone Jewish will be called this name, unless they denounce Israel. It can happen if one posts about antisemitism, even when the Israel-Palestinian conflict has not been mentioned. I get sent pictures of mortally injured children, accompanied by tweets, telling me that Israel has done it and often they add considerately that they hope I can sleep at night.

Antisemitism is not about what Jews want it to be about. It is the antisemites as always who choose the parameters and they have made it about Israel.

There is no getting away from the fact that the news makes me sad. My children and friends often say they wish I would look less and be less sad, but I don’t think it can be done.

It is Friday and the sun is in the west.

Shabbat shalom.

 

 

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  • Gillian Gould Lazarus: I've approved your comment Jones, rather than trashing it. It seems to me a snapshot of contemporary online exegesis. Can you say something about you
  • Jones: You're just a typical white racist tory who has no problems with Windrush deportations or tory Islamaphobia. You get no support from the BAME communit
  • Gillian Gould Lazarus: Thank you Joanne!
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