The Media in the Press

Second year journalism student, Alex McConnell, of Strathclyde University takes a look at the media stories making it into to today’s press…

The BBC makes the front page of the Times today with the Conservatives promising a ‘shake up of the Corporation’ if elected with the axe to fall sharply on BBC Trust chair, Sir Michael Lyons (page 1, 2, 6 and 7). An incoming Conservative government want to scrap the BBC Trust and create a new 'licence fee payers’ trust' and a new post of non-executive chair to work alongside Mark Thompson, the Director-General.

The party’s vision for a revamped BBC Trust includes providing Mr Thompson with a 'cheerleading chairman’ who would solely stand up for the Corporation's interests, with the role of investigating allegations of wrongdoing being hived off, instead, to an independent regulator. In one of the leading articles for the Times, the separation of these ‘advocate’ and ‘regulator’ roles is deemed crucial, and suggests that broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, become the BBC’s regulator (page 2).

The Conservatives believe that the Trust has failed on several major incidents such as the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross phone-in scandal and the Strictly Come Dancing racism debacle last year. However, it is likely that the BBC Trust will strongly oppose such changes and have refused to confirm whether Sir Michael will continue if the Tories win the General Election.

In other media news, The Scotsman reports that the pocket-sized magazine, Reader’s Digest, is on the brink of collapse in the UK. The publication's American parent is emerging from bankruptcy and has threatened to close its UK operation ‘within weeks’. The magazine, which is renowned by many as the ‘most widely read in the world’ (page 17) has seen its circulation decline rapidly in recent years. It is also said to have a £125 million pound pension deficit and if a rescue deal cannot be agreed, the company will be handed over to administrators.

And finally, the pesky internet has reached the headlines as psychologists claim to have found a “strong link” between depression and the amount of time spent surfing the internet. The Scotsman (page 5), The Daily Record (page 26) and The Scottish Daily Mail (page 7) all report on the findings from Leeds University which also discovered that the longer you spend online, the unhappier you become.

People found to be addicted to internet had an average age of 21 and spent a disproportionate amount of time browsing porn and gaming sites and online communities. Dr Catriona Morrison helped lead the experiment acknowledged that the internet “plays a huge part in modern life” but “its benefits are accompanied by a darker side” (The Scotsman, page 5).