Greenslade hits out at 'dumbeddown'

Roy Greenslade, media commentator of The Guardian, has criticised the “qualities” for dumbing down standards in recent years.

“The dumbing-down in the broadsheets is nothing like that in the tabloids,” he told students at the University of Lincoln.

“They have become more relevant and more accessible. But they have reduced coverage of foreign news and of Parliament while increasing columnists and commentators. Thus they are reacting to news more than finding it.”

Greenslade provoked an angry response from tabloid editors when he singled them out for criticism in his recent inaugural lecture as professor of Journalism at City University, London.

Shifting his attention to the “qualities”, he said that since the arrival of The Independent in 1986, The Guardian, The Times and The Daily Telegraph had all gradually increased their lighter content. The Guardian often placed stories about celebrities in its G2 section but flagged them prominently on the front page.

Greenslade said entertainment values were coming to dominate the new tabloid, picture-driven Times while two-thirds of the front page of a recent issue of the Telegraph was occupied by a picture of actress Joely Richardson.

“And that is worrying,” he added.

He also argued that journalists should be far more open about conflicts of interest.

“For instance, when Peter Preston, in The Guardian, was writing about The Times at the time his son, Ben, was the [acting] editor, he should have made that interest clear.”

By Richard Keeble

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