With our editors it’s no wonder we have so little faith in newspapers

Have you ever wondered why people don’t believe a word they read in newspapers - or at least heavily discount anything they find in them?

Have you ever wondered why people don’t believe a word they read in

newspapers - or at least heavily discount anything they find in


Well, wonder no more. Allow me to present to you David Yelland, editor

of the Sun, and Geoff Elliott, editor of the News in Portsmouth and the

new president of the Guild of British Newspaper Editors.

First, Mr Yelland. He hasn’t been long in office and there is

speculation he won’t be after his recent performance. He began the week

by asking whether we were ruled by a gay Mafia and ended it by making it

clear that if you want to know you should not expect the Sun to tell

you. Disappearing up his own fundamental mission to disclose, he

announced his newspaper was no longer in the business of ’outing’

homosexuals unless the public interest required it.

We may speculate on the commercial reasons why Mr Yelland decided to let

left-footers lie. But one thing is clear: he is now in no position to

condemn anybody else for dithering. That won’t stop him and it won’t

stop his readers from taking it with a huge pinch of salt. The great

British public sussed out their editors long ago. They think they are

mostly a bunch of pretentious hypocrites worth more as entertainers than


This brings me to Mr Elliott with whom I have occasionally passed a

civil word. I have now had a week to calm down since I read his

presidential clap-trap, reproduced in the Independent, complaining that

’at all levels lying to journalists has become endemic’. He pointedly

added: ’More than ever they (journalists) have to resist the

machinations of the country’s 48,000 public relations officers who try

to steal the news agenda or convert it their employers’ own


Mr Elliott seems incapable of recognising the possibility that

journalists might tell lies, except as the too-willing tools of PROs.

Yet every day they lie to us either by error, omission or commission.

They massage, knead and sculpt the ’facts’ to make them more

interesting. They chronically over-simplify and sensationalise. By

selecting their version of the truth - and Mr Elliott showed us he has

his own unscientific line on the effect of BSE - they automatically fail

to tell the whole of it. I could manure a ranch with the Ratner they

have written - and believe - about me. And, let us not forget, the

media’s files are systems for the perpetuation of lies.

If, after this, Mr Elliott still feels like leading the charge against

the nation’s public relations professionals, why doesn’t he fearlessly

expose the liars among us? After all, he says journalists ’should stick

up for ourselves more’. Or is the unfortunate truth that he can’t do

without us?

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

Explore further