Coronavirus by Susan Grimsdell

There’s a new scourge invading the earth.  Coronavirus or Covid-19 to give it its new name. Many thousands of people have got it, and hundreds have died.  It’s brand new, so none of us has any immunity to it.  It’s causing havoc everywhere.  People are stuck in China, prevented from flying home, shipments of products to and from China are grinding to a halt threatening whole economies, stockmarkets are falling. People are afraid, very afraid. Masking the problem Chinese authorities’ response has been to make the wearing of facemasks compulsory.  People elsewhere… Read More

Freedom of the press by Angela Caldin

It seems there was an incident on Monday 3 February at 10 Downing Street when one of Boris Johnson’s senior aides tried to ban selected reporters from attending a briefing on the UK’s trade negotiations with the EU. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Reminiscent of Trump and his conflicts with media? The wrong side of the rug The aide wanted to exclude reporters from the Mirror, the i, HuffPost, PoliticsHome, the Independent and others. Apparently, those journalists to be admitted were asked to stand on one side of a rug, while those not… Read More

News and fake news by Susan Grimsdell

Never before have we been so deluged by words and pictures masquerading as news.  It comes at us from every direction, huge quantities of it, all designed to grab our attention, entertain us and capture our interest. Most of it is thrown out there by people whose deliberate intention is to influence what we think.  There are even people who make a living in a new job called “influencer”. Demise of fact-checking The difference today from, say, even ten years ago, is that very little of what we see and read has… Read More

A fourth rate estate by Trevor Plumbly

My brain has passed the R&D stage; these days I prefer the more frivolous things in life because too much reality can get depressing at my age. The process hasn’t been entirely voluntary; most of it was forced on me by the media’s insistence that short, sharp jabs of unpleasant news would make me more aware of what’s going on. It seems, to me anyway, that lately shock/horror is weighing too heavily in the balance of daily news. What was once considered bait for the tabloids is now rammed down our throats… Read More

Fire and flood by Angela Caldin

Unprecedented bush fires in Eastern Australia and devastating floods in the North of England. Some of the responses to these tragedies have been extraordinary. Michael McCormack, deputy prime minister of Australia and leader of the National party, said concerns over climate change while fires were burning were a ‘disgrace’. He went on to say “They (the victims) don’t need the ravings of some pure, enlightened and woke capital city greenies at this time.” When do they need those ravings, one wonders; if not when three people have died in fires that are… Read More