What if the Media was treated like the Arts? What if consumer demand was not the sole driving factor of supply? What if cashflow was not wholly reliant on corporate favour and sales?

Broadsheet readers, though they may try to hide it, often look down on tabloid readers for their unsavoury taste in news coverage. Nothing new there. Real classical music nuts distance themselves from such popular muck as Rutter and Pachelbel, and theatre junkies despair of incessant productions of A Midnummer Night’s Dream and Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat. But there is nothing to be done to improve the taste of the masses. Sales speak volumes, and drive supply so that it becomes a market busy with the same ideas, the same sounds the same glossy finish. And so they should, because the entertainment industry caters to its audience. Media is on the edge of that, half entertainment industry half public service. But all of them suffer the laments of the those on the inside, those whose output is limited by what consumers think they want. Those crying for a British public with better taste, and more desire to know about the world around them.

Enter Arts Council England: they have provided the funding for projects that never could have got off the ground with corporate backing alone. They facilitate true creativity, boundaries pushed, ideas challenged, participation widened and experimental opportunities supported. They’ve provided backing for productions that have gone on to be hugely successful, but weren’t necessarily predicted to be so, or would have barely lasted a season without. Look at War Horse, look at Punchdrunk, look at the RSC.

Could this work for the media? Can the consuming public be expected to know what it wants when all it gets is more of the same and advertising for that? It’s no wonder people don’t pay for their news consumption, when it’s so easy to get for free, and it’s no wonder that when they do pay, what they more commonly choose is the light relief of celebrity gossip and politics where the judgement has been made for them. But for the rest, there is another way.

Independently judged and allocated state funding would provide a basis for a stable media, a plural supply and a wide-ranging outreach. It would allow for the more in-depth exploration of ideas and for the breeding space of creativity. Creativity leads to innovation, innovation leads to development, which leads to change, growth, prospects. As democracy is hailed from the rooftops of downtown Cairo to upstate New York and Britain tries to claw back faith in the press, is it not time to put our trust in the pillar of the democratic system that is real journalism? To leave behind advertisers’ control, tycoons’ power hunger and media moguls’ greed? Would that be too much to hope for? Too much hope and trust placed in the integrity of the power hungry and our ever changing government? I fear it may be. But I hope it’s not.

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