The only newspaper I read is The Guardian every Saturday. I’m pretty comfortable with its broadly liberal, slightly left-of-centre viewpoint. And there’s so much to read it lasts me well into the week.
On a bus the other day I picked up a discarded copy of The Sun, a right-of-centre tabloid. I flicked through it and found myself torn between laughter and horror at its unhealthy diet of salacious gossip and prurient titillation. Not for the first time I found myself wondering whether this rag – you can’t call it a newspaper because it has little actual news or analysis – creates or simply confirms a narrowly philistine and frankly nasty mind-set in its regular readers.
Aha, I think to myself, let’s cleanse the palate with another post set in my fictional town of Bafflesby. The spoof tabloid can be called something alliterative – the Bafflesby Bullhorn, maybe, with a silly motto like ‘We Shout Louder Than You’ – and sending this garbage up will be a walk in the park …
Wrong! As screwed-up pieces of paper piled up on the carpet, it began to occur to me that this stuff is beyond satire. Who would ever believe me if my headline article was anything like the one they actually printed:
FLYER ARRESTED IN FIRST CLASS
Jet perv films up BA girl’s undercarriage
EXCLUSIVE by STEPHEN SNOOPER
A FIRST Class British Airways passenger has been arrested amid claims he used a phone to film up a stewardess’s skirt at 30,000ft.
Businessman Martyn Mennis, 61, is alleged to have pushed the handset under the 26-year-old (Continued on Page Four)
There is nothing else on the front page. I would remind you that The Sun, unlike the Bafflesby Bullhorn, is a national newspaper at a time when major domestic and international events are coming thick and fast …
One confession, though, I did change the names. Maybe I will be able to do a parody, after all, but my satirical target – The Sun – has set the bar pretty high … or should that be low? The prospect of writing it makes me feel a bit grubby. I wonder if Sun journalists feel grubby, or do they just get used to it? Perhaps they’ve all got thick skins to begin with …