For as long as I have been running this blog – and in fact, it was almost exactly five years ago that I started doing so – I have watched as mainstream media has become shriller and more polemic, trying to match the blogosphere in this respect in a chase for readership. I have seen investigative journalism sadly decline over that time period and, particularly in respect to Brexit, journalists and media figures either present information absurdly poorly or just as bad, not thoroughly questioning MPs or other figures who come on news programmes about either exaggerated or in some cases straight out false information. Last night, a chap from Leave Means Leave was on Channel 4 news and when asked about the issues surrounding no deal Brexit said, “The ‘Remainstream’ media and online is dominated by people who say that no-deal is going to be a total disaster. We don’t believe that.” We really have reached a point where we are in a post-facts world. Even the Right are post-modern now – it’s whatever you feel, not whatever is supported by genuine facts that are important.
Due to these concerns, I’ve just written a book called “Pop Star Jihadi”. It’s a novel because I felt that was the only way to get to the heart of the situation we’re in now. I have placed fictional articles from both the far-right and the far-left side by side, and alongside mainstream outlets trying to keep up in order that we may see how much partisanship is shaping the news we consume.
The plot revolves around a mega-famous pop star who goes out on stage one night with a bomb strapped to his chest, killing himself and a score of his young fans. The tragedy is then seen through the lens of different media outlets, all of whom want to use the horror of what’s just happened to advance their own worldview further. For a period, fundamentalist Islam is thought to have been the pop star’s motivation, leading to a horrible wave of anti-Muslim feeling and incidents. When this is proven to be untrue, the news cycle and blogosphere moves on to another angle that is equally made of thin air.
The book is sympathetic to the troubles the mainstream media are facing while still being critical of it in some respects. After all, what are they to do in the face of fraying perspectives and “alternative news” sources?
Anyhow, would love to know what you, some of whom will be long time readers of this blog, think of the book and how it attempts to portray the media in the current age. It’s available now on e-book and paperback in less than a week’s time: