Journalists and media types have expressed outrage after Jeremy Wright said he didn’t subscribe to any British newspapers or magazines.
They argue that the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture Media and Sport must be a subscriber to something to keep on top of his brief. After all he’s the man in charge of setting legislation governing the Fourth Estate.
The Guardian’s media editor Jim Waterson mischievously juxtaposes the admission with another statement by Mr Wright: ‘quality journalism isn’t sufficiently rewarded’. Mr Waterson’s implication being that if more people like Mr Wright subscribed then the media industry would flourish and journalism would prosper.
However, is it surprising that the Culture Secretary isn’t a regular subscriber? In a world with an increasingly diverse media, the trend is very much against paid-for subscriptions. Understandably so, because it’s far easier to read a summary of everything for free on your phone or tablet.
Pick up an iPhone and within seconds you can access the Guardian, the Telegraph, Buzzfeed and many differing opinions on social media without paying a penny.
It’s therefore no wonder that research increasingly shows people not relying on a single traditional news outlet. They’re consuming information from a much wider variety of sources – just like Jeremy Wright.
There is, however, inherent danger in reading only Guido Fawkes and Facebook or The Canary and Instagram. Relying on limited sources, or your friends’ opinions on social media, is not the route to a rounded world view. Perhaps worse, it can make you believe things that aren’t even true, as my colleague Chris Tutton warned in a recent blog.
It’s because of those risks that most people agree quality journalism must be rewarded. But in 2018 we shouldn’t be surprised that somebody doesn’t subscribe to newspapers, regardless of their position.
People often accuse the ‘Westminster Elite’ of being nothing like the man and woman in the street. In this case, it seems one of our most senior politicians is (for once) just like the majority of us.
Max Wilkinson is a senior account manager at Camargue