The media coverage of last week’s Tory party conference was almost entirely focused on one story, says Janet Daley in The Sunday Telegraph: the cancelled extension of HS2. But is that really the “most important matter facing the country”? The cost-of-living crisis, the economy, the housing shortage, the dire state of the NHS – all these issues affect the lives of far more people, and to a much greater extent. Yet they barely got a look in. The leak of the HS2 decision was a perfect example of the “intra-party soap opera” that gets Westminster politicos hot under the collar, but leaves the rest of us “absolutely cold”.
Another is the media’s “endless debates about pronouns”. How often do you find yourself arguing with friends and family over whether trans women should be referred to as “she/her”? Almost never, would be my guess, “unless you’re a university student or a Human Resources officer”. But again, to read the newspapers you’d think that’s all anyone ever talks about. It was the same with Rishi Sunak’s tweaks to Britain’s net zero regulation – a decision most voters agree with, but which sent the BBC and others into “a paroxysm of hysterical condemnation”. This disconnect – between what the public really thinks and cares about, and what the media thinks they should – has become “positively surreal”. And it all adds to the growing distrust of the mainstream media and the “privileged elite” running the country. Our newspapers and broadcasters need to “widen their gaze”.