We all like to stop and buy a copy of the Big Issue – of course we do! But just in case you missed the edition edited by Armando Ianucci I’ll bring you up to date. The main theme of the issue was this: social media doesn’t expand our horizons at all. Quite the reverse – it makes us look inward, reinforcing our prejudices. How so? Well, just take a look through the people you follow on twitter and FaceBook. Ianucci’s argument is that you‘ll find they are largely people and organisations whose views you agree with. Those you violently disagree with, you’re unlikely to follow. So your idea of the prevailing attitudes on politics for example is almost certainly skewed in favour of those who hold the same political stance as you do. If you’re a Brexiteer you are probably convinced that the majority of people in Britain favour leaving the EU. If you’re a Remainer you are probably convinced that there is a majority in favour of at most a second referendum or at least a soft Brexit.
Broadcasters won’t break that dilemma. The BBC is bound by charter to give balance to every issue, and ITN the same by Ofcom. Only the print media can take a distinctive political stance to attract readers. So that’s why, in my view, it’s wrong of Virgin Trains to ban The Daily Mail from its shops, because they’ve said “this paper is not compatible with the VT brand and our beliefs”. If customers see the Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Mirror and The Times on a shelf are they really going to think that the retailer supports all these opposing points of view?
My advice? You don’t have to go as far as to buy a paper whose views you find abhorrent. But what about keeping an eye on twitter on some whose views you despise? It might raise your blood pressure but it will also raise your understanding of what’s going on out there.