Over the past few weeks, ever since the Daily Mail posted its controversial "Enemies of the People" headline, I have been locked in a (I hope) friendly battle on Facebook with a chum about the critical importance of the freedom of speech and the utter necessity of a free press - right and left wing - to maintain any semblance of societal accountability.
I absolutely believe that the existence of a right wing print media means we are balanced with the existence of a left wing print media. Without one you cannot have the other. This means, however, that sometimes we are not only exposed to opinions we don't like but also to opinions we find acutely distasteful.
*Suck it up I say*
As this Press Gazette article highlights, this surely shakes us from the danger of the echo chamber, a chamber we have heard all too much in this post-Obama, pre-Trump world. If all we hear is what we agree with already then how do we learn? How the hell do we stay objective? How can we possibly understand that there is a world of dissenting voices out there, a world which we are ignoring, a world which we are opting out of engaging with.
More so, print media has a huge role in keeping us in check. As John Oliver says in his brilliant diatribe, who else sits in on local council meetings, holding elected officials to account, guarding against corruption? Or as the incandescent film Spotlight shows, the media has a vital role in exposing corruption for what it truly is. Read our very own Mark Pinnes' Passel about the critical importance of print media. The all say it better than I.
And without a press free to report as it wishes to (and always, of course, within the bounds of the law which, also of course, is not always the case) who is then in control? Taking the moral high ground is perhaps OK for Lego and so we applaud them in taking a moral stance. But what about supermarkets pulling ads because they don't agree with coverage over deals with farmers, or retailers cancelling campaigns over investigative reports into workers rights? Not so tasteful now is it?
No one is forced to buy a paper. No one is making you agree with opinions you don't want to agree with. But it is important we understand all sides of an argument, understand extremes of opinion - because if we don't how can we hope to reunite post Brexit, or post Trump.
Calling for the demise of any paper that espouses opinions which do not chime with our own is, I believe, the beginning of the end. You think our moral compass had gone AWOL today? Just wait for a world without a free press to keep us in check.
Now that would be Trumpocolypse or Brexitageddon
do we really want advertisers overtly seeking to influence editorial decisions? Because once we make it ok for advertisers to make editorial judgments we could end up in a shady place. Today it is Lego in response to concern about the Daily Mail’s coverage around Brexit and immigration – tomorrow it could be banks and oil companies seeking to dissuade publishers from carrying out legitimate investigations.