Ian Monk: Media sex drive ousts real news

Sex sells, no matter what currency it comes in.

Ian Monk: sex sells
Ian Monk: sex sells

Rarely has there been such a rich tableau of sexual intrigue and alleged wrongdoing for the media to salivate over. Forget everything else. It's the sex, stupid!

Who wants to read about the Middle East when the head of the IMF is held on sex charges in New York? The involvement of Sir Fred Goodwin, former chief executive of RBS, in a workplace affair while the bank burnt is a far sexier story than the economy. Arnold Schwarzenegger's love child beats the scripts on offer at Cannes any day.

Big Brother is all but dead, but fear not! One of its relentless wannabes, Imogen Thomas, parades endlessly for the media as she tries to drag from behind an injunction the name of the Premiership footballer she claims bedded her. Who cares about serious government when you have cabinet minister Chris Huhne's career hanging by a thread? His estranged wife is ready to cut it as public revenge for his desertion of her for a bisexual party worker.

It is all spectacular fodder for the media. But the media want more! Thus the simultaneous attempts to destroy injunctions that acknowledge an individual's right to a private life. In doing so, the media invoke a position as guardians of democracy and free speech.

Editors know most of the injunctions are relatively poor cases for them to go to war over. They privately accept that lifting many would serve no truly great public interest. But behind each one, they know, is a new bodice-ripping bestseller.

It's a PR nightmare that shows no sign of abating. It is not helped by the social network rebellion, with Tweeters, encouraged by newspapers, bandying about the names of those allegedly shielded by the injunctions.

Sex, Scandal and Sleaze are the sibilant hunting cries of media in full pursuit of sex-driven sales.

Maybe PR strategists should use a little alliteration of their own in seeking to turn the media tide. Who would dare to suggest that sanctimonious, salacious and cynical might just be apposite in some cases? Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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