Team Corbyn off the hook as Jeremy gets radical on social class

Written by David Singleton on 23 August 2018 in Diary

The Labour leader has set out his ideas for reforming the media landscape.

According to the press release that arrived in journalist inboxes at 9.46am on Thursday, Jeremy Corbyn was set to float “a series of radical ideas” to shake up the media.

And so it came to pass as the Labour leader delivered his policy-heavy 2018 Alternative MacTaggart Lecture.

In a bid to persude people that he doesn't really hate all journalists, Corbyn started by looking back a few years to when he was a hack himself. 

"News reporting is a vital and a proud profession. One of my early jobs after leaving school was on the Newport and Market Drayton Advertiser... Working on the local paper was hard work but huge fun. And I found it incredibly rewarding because I could see the role we were playing in my community."

Having talked up the Newport and Market Drayton Advertiser, Corbyn suggested that a windfall tax could be levied on tech giants such as Google, Amazon and Facebook to pay for such public interest journalism.

But it wasn't just local papers that got the thumbs up from the Labour leader. He also suggested that more outlets should follow in the footsteps of the Guardian – by electing their editors.

“One of the more radical and interesting ideas I’ve heard, which limits the power of unaccountable media barons without state control, is to give journalists the power to elect editors and have seats on boards for workers and consumers when a title or programme gets particularly large and influential. Journalists at the Guardian now elect their editor by indicative ballot and there’s no reason why that precedent shouldn’t be spread more widely.”

Given that news organisations are already free to do this anyway, the proposal sounded to some as though the Labour leader wanted to the state to intervene to ensure it happened. But perhaps his most radical proposal of all was to require the BBC to publish “social class” data for all its presenters and journalists as part of a drive to improve diversity.

The proposal is being seen as radical by some senior journalists as Corbyn is yet to introduce such a measure for top spinners in his own office. If he did it would note that in Seumas Milne and James Schneider he employs a director of communications and a head of strategic communications who both attended the prestigious fee-paying Winchester College....



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