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Let’s give citizens free cash to save not-for profit journalism

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A flourishing, diverse media is essential to a functioning democracy. We have neither. An already broken model faces an existential crisis. Back in 1948, the media mogul Lord Beaverbrook told a royal commission on the press that he ran the Daily Express “purely for the purpose of making propaganda and with no other object ... I look at it as a purely propagandist project.” Today, most of the British press remains the plaything of media moguls who profit from a broken status quo.

Ideas such as public ownership are popular with the public: a poll by one rightwing thinktank found that 83% back nationalisation of the water industry, as do more than three-quarters with regard to electricity, gas and the railways. The vast majority of people back higher taxes on the rich. Yet these are fringe ideas within most of the mainstream media, which marginalises those who support them.

Then there’s the daily whipping up of hatred and bigotry against benefit claimants, Muslims, refugees, migrants and trans people – helping to legitimise and fuel the prejudice and discrimination experienced by minorities. Both the Times – supposedly a reputable paper of record – and the Sun have been forced to correct false or misleading stories about Muslims: but by then the damage is done. Political reporting is too often trivialised, treated as a soap opera based in Westminster, rather than placed in a broader social or economic context. Financial dependence on collapsing advertising revenues inevitably ties newspapers to corporate interests: in one egregious example, the conservative commentator Peter Oborne resigned........

© The Guardian