Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Low Standards

Every morning on the London Underground, I witness the same strange herd-mentality amongst commuting desk-jockeys. 90% of my fellows Londoners are engrossed in the filthy gutter-press rag Metro. I know it’s free, but a freebie is no excuse for allowing your brain to rot by reading hollow lifestyle puff pieces, whilst trying to avoid being blinded by bright orange Easyjet ads.

The other 10% of them are buried in crap fiction like “Miss DumBitch’s Hilarious Vignettes about Hangovers and Getting Cock” or whatever the shite chick-lit du jour being pimped by Waterstone’s this month is, but I digress.

At the other end of the day, the commute home seems to involve a similar percentage of people fouling themselves by reading the London Evening Standard. And what a hunk of crap that paper is. Maybe I’m just looking through the rose-tinted Ray-Bans of nostalgia, but I’m sure the Standard wasn’t always this odious.

I don’t ever buy the bloody thing, but I can’t help but glance at it over people’s shoulders every now and then. And when I do, I wish I had the eyes of Ray Charles to protect me.

Page after page of not-particularly-newsworthy minutiae, the obligatory coverage of the latest Leicester Square film premiere, the heart-blackening slice-of-life tales, Brian Sewell…just pointless cack. But I can live with all that. What I really object to is the excessive scaremongering by co-opting Bush’s nebulous concept of “terrorism”. The front page screeches variations on “TUBE TERROR SCARE” in bland fonts, with irritating regularity. We know the inherent risks of living and working in a city that is targeted by a bunch of extremists (like Tony Blair), but we don’t need to have mass hysteria whipped up every time someone leaves a bag on the Tube. It’s irresponsible to terrorise your own citizens like that. Nothing wrong with measured and well-considered caution and awareness, but Standard journalism doesn’t fit into this category.

Amongst the national newspapers we have a broad range of formats, content and viewpoints, and we all have the option to choose one from the selection. The tabloids might just be the tits-and-bingo papers, but they don’t pretend to be anything else. And if you do want something else, there is a choice.

Our city has only one single, solitary daily paper, and it’s evil, lowest-common-denominator shit. London is one of the greatest cities in the world, and we should have a great newspaper that reflects that. Are Londoners not under-stimulated and bullshitted enough in their working days that they need to pay for the privilege of being intellectually shat on on their way home?

Have some fucking taste, have some fucking dignity and self-respect and buy a good book the next time you have an hour to kill on the Tube. You owe it to your brain to give it a bit of exercise.

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