Media Monitor: market meltdowns

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It’s been a slow week in the main headlines. As the phone-hacking behemoth lumbers on – this time in the direction of the Daily Mirror – the summer recess seems to have arrived in the news too.

So what has caught the eye of Media Monitor this week?  The Daily Telegraph reported that 31 per cent of parents from relatively well-off households believe that university courses are too expensive. The study – by Edge, a charity chaired by Lord Baker of Dorking, the former Tory education secretary – surveyed 500 parents from households with an income of £15,000 to £40,000.

More than half of parents with children aged 11 to 18 said a university education was less valuable than it was 10 years ago, while 47 per cent claimed that degrees no longer gave young people a good start in life.

What was most encouraging was what the great Lord had to say. ‘For too long, middle income parents have been blinkered to the alternative education options to university for their child,’ he sniffed. ‘The vocational route equips young people with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace.’ Amen to that, my Lord.

They are prophetic words from the big man given The Independent’s report that as many as 200,000 students face disappointment in getting a university place this Summer. Of course the threat of increased fees and limited places has resulted in huge demand. And once the fees come in won’t there be an ‘Olympic ticket’ style scrap, where those with the highest budget will get places and those with the least left to fight over the scraps? Just a thought.

And in a week when the Bank of England has held the interest rate at 0.5% (horray for borrowers, boo for savers) we have seen the alarming news of stock market mayhem across the world. When The Sun reports such matters it must be bad, right?

Now, Media Monitor is no expert economist (check out Robert Peston’s superb blog for intellectual, informed analysis), but it seems this slump is as a result of the deficit reduction of Governments.

If reports are to be believed, investors are getting nervous that overstretched governments – such as Ireland, Greece et al – may not be able to pay off their debts in full whilst they are attempting to cut back. It really is one big merry-go-round.

But I can’t end on that note. Instead I will return to the Daily Mirror – purveyor of probably the most bizarre, un-newsworthy and downright bonkers story of the week.

It’s this 1,400 word character assassination of Radio 2 DJ, Steve Wright. This startling piece of investigative journalism – which aims to highlight the ‘weird’ world of said DJ – highlights a man who likes chicken pies from Eat and visits his Mum at weekends. Really? Blimey, get me a straight jacket right now too. You can only imagine that the writer of this piece is an over-eager summer intern at the paper. I hope so, anyway.

If not, then this is the type of lazy tabloid journalism we can expect as a result of phone hacking from hereon.  If that’s the case then bring back phone hacking, I say. All is forgiven.

PS. Completely unrelated, but Media Monitor couldn’t go without highlighting this fabulous piece of journalism from The New Yorker on the operation to kill Osama Bin Laden. At nearly 8,500 words it’s no light read. Instead, copy, paste and read over the weekend – it is breathtaking journalism that will reward your time.

Steven Perryman is AAT Comment's former Content Editor.

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