I was in my local cafe diner, screening for neighbourhood gossip and genning up on the Daily Mail’s latest scandal and outrage. Several stories were told from different angles throughout the grubby pages of the well-thumbed copy I was sifting through. “You know”, I mused, “I think they might actually want their readers to become schizophrenic.”
On the front page the headline “RESTORE ELITISM TO OUR SCHOOLS“. The editorial line seemed to be aimed at persuading the readers to find Michael Gove’s speech just as “extraordinary” as the writer did – “extraordinary” as in “bad”. This, after all, is a newspaper that often seems to want to portray itself as succour for the common man.
On page 7, however, the same story took on a nanny-ish tone “We must demand more of our teachers… and our children : And here’s why it matters: for the first time 1m [million] youngsters are not in work or education.” So, presumably, the writer of this piece was having a dig at teachers and their performance. Plus it was also having a swipe at out-of-work out-of-the-classroom “scrounger” teenagers.
Where, I asked myself, was the analysis of why so many young people were without a role in life, without prospects ? Where are the jobs, work placements and apprenticeships for “youngsters” ? The statistics show that there are not enough openings for every NEET.
So it’s not the fault of the young people, or their teachers, that they are left unemployed. It’s certainly not the fault of immigrant workers, “coming over here, taking our jobs“, a common Daily Mail theme, it seems, without any foundation. And a streamed education system won’t make the situation any better – in fact, it might make it worse, as a small elite could create a larger dispossessed underclass.
It seems the Daily Mail will stand up for virtuous individuals fighting against the tide of joblessness, but can’t bring itself to question the causes of mass unemployment and underemployment, and instead points the finger of blame at the jobless themselves. You would need to have your inner world split in two to accept that young people are both entitled and not entitled to take part in the economy.
And this same schizophrenia is in evidence in the same newspaper regarding developments in global warming and climate change.
On page 5, the Daily Mail asks alliteratively, “Is November warmest yet ? It is more sultry in Sussex than in Syria“. They can’t quite bring themselves to say the cause is changes in the long-term weather patterns, but at least they faithfully report the exceptional temperature for the time of year.
And then on page 19, it states categorically “Climate change fears ‘have been exaggerated’“.
This piece bears some analysis. “Risk is ‘not imminent’ say scientists”. But actually, they do. “The authors stress the results do not mean threat from human-induced climate change should be treated any less seriously, explained palaeoclimatologist Antoni Rosell-Mele from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, who is a member of the team that came up with the new estimates…”At least, given that no one is doing very much around the planet [about] mitigating CO2 emissions, we have a bit more time,” he remarked…” It’s this little word “bit” that’s important. The scientist doesn’t mean that climate change isn’t happening already, just that the thresholds that people think matter might not be crossed as soon as people have been thinking. On the other hand, the probability of imminent extreme change is still not zero :-
The summary is that extreme climate change could appear imminently, but is less likely to. We can’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet, then.
So, the Daily Mail appears to have mis-interpreted the science team’s remarks. That’s not unusual in the mainstream media, and could do with a correction. What’s more annoying and worrying is that in the same newspaper it has given two views on climate change. This is extremely unhelpful. What are its readership supposed to conclude ?