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Maybe I should just button it

July 12, 2010

Across the aisle from me on the 0842 from Hither Green to Charing Cross, a weathered looking man in his late fifties dressed in a shirt and tie, a pair of soiled black trousers and a shabby baseball cap, sits peering at his copy of the Daily Mirror.

‘Exclusive’ screams the front cover. ‘The Real Raoul Moat‘. A woman with a pained expression on her face has her head tilted to one side in a circular cropped photo. ‘Thank God He Is Dead’ the mother of Moat’s children has told Daily Mirror reporters.

Personal experience over the past few days hangs over me like a dark cloud. People don’t like it when other people judge use of language, regardless of disclaimers, caveats or self-deprecation.

But, I can’t help but think of how disinterested I am now in a man whose last week alive didn’t especially interest me either. To me – like Barbara Ellen perhaps – this particular story died its death when Moat committed suicide. Everything else after that is – surely – an exercise in chasing an audience.

Or is this front page story and others like it just feeding an unquestioning audience with what it wants?

Then I look back at the man. He has a kindly face. The screaming headline jars with his apparent persona. Has he enjoyed reading that story? Has he just skimmed it? Would he think to question it? Does he think it’s tasteless or pointless?

Maybe the problem is me. Maybe I’m not really getting something here. I’ve already made a judgement on the paper and revealed the assumptions I have of the people who read it. Maybe I’m ignorant. Maybe I shouldn’t judge quite so much.

Maybe I should just button it.

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