When libel charges might be a price worth paying

It’s hard to find a quality newspaper these days. Ok, granted some have been shocking for a long time. I’m not a massive fan of the red  tops. Not being snobbish about it, but I think most of them have an editorial style that’s too magazine-like. Great in a magazine, not so great in a newspaper. I’ve not even looked at the Sun since Hillsborough, so their recent swing behind the Tories made no difference to me. The only non-red-top tabloids are the Express and the Mail. They’re both too right-wing for this lefty. The Mail is just repugnant let’s face it.

Of the broadsheets, the best seller is the Telegraph. Well it’s always been the Torygraph in my house, and is thus an unreadable right-wing propaganda outlet for the Conservative party. At the other end of the scale, the Independent can sometimes be too wishy-washy and unable to give an opinion for fear of offending someone. I used to like the Times. There I could find the left and right view presented in one paper and form my own conclusions. But in recent years, they’ve become slowly more biased toward the right. Probably inevitable under Murdoch’s ownership really. The Guardian is ok. It suffers from the same fault as the Independent, just to a lesser degree. I’d always found it readable. Then in the last election campaign, they advised Labour voters to vote tactically. I fell out with them.

That left me the good old Financial Times. Business-centred, but readable. Politically of the centre. Economically of a liberal leaning. Able to give information without pushing an agenda. These are all things I like to see in a newspaper. Even when they decided to support the Conservatives in the last election, I liked the paper. At least they took a stance without being rabidly biased.

That’s why I’m so disappointed to learn that they pulled out of running an ad for Amnesty in today’s edition. Metro and the Evening Standard both ran it. I don’t think those papers’ lawyers would give any worse advice than the FT’s did. So the excuse that they’re worried about libel seems weak. Could it be that they succumbed to pressure from Shell, the target of the ad? Amnesty wanted to draw attention to the horrendous human rights record of Shell in failing to deal with pollution in the Niger delta. The local population are forced to drink polluted water, eat polluted food and breathe polluted air.

This blog has significantly fewer readers than the Financial Times, but I’d feel ashamed if I didn’t include a copy of the ad for you all to see. Unlike the editorial staff of the FT.

Amnesty Shell Ad


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