On the 23rd October, a paper highlighting the racist tones of some newspapers stocked in the Union’s Shop Extra was brought to Union Council, calling for the ban of such tabloids being sold. The topic brought about an invigorating discussion, where approximately 50 elected students from various years, degrees and backgrounds, debated whether a ban was the best response for the situation.
It was acknowledged that the papers in question, The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Express; have all been condemned by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and the UN Human Rights Chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, for the way they express their opinions and content, fuelling prejudices and directing hate toward particular groups. Some council members argued that the papers should be banned from campus. One stated that, “We are funding these papers and these papers profit purely because they are racist… and by stocking them we say ‘yeah this is the correct way to go forward, this is the right way to make money’ “. Meanwhile, others in the room pointed out “…this shouldn’t be about censorship, but the way in which the Union responds to such headlines.”.
Following alternate suggestions of censoring the front pages with blank paper, papers being available only on request, or even banning selling any newspapers altogether, the outcome of the students’ vote was concluded by one student as “…although racism is wrong, we should not be censoring what students have access to. This would limit their view of the world, creating an Imperial bubble and making them ignorant to the issues.”
Instead, the newspapers shall continue to be sold in Shop Extra, with the profits from The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Express being donated monthly to an anti-racism charity. A statement that not only shows the Union refuses to profit off racism but that we commit to empowering an organisation or campaign that will bring about real changes in the media world. The Deputy President (Finance & Services) [DPFS] together with Ansh Bhatnagar, the author of the paper, chose ‘Stop Funding Hate’ – a social media campaign pressurising companies to pull out of advertising in these tabloids, a main source of income fuelling these newspapers. The aim is to force the newspapers to have to make positive changes around inclusivity and equality in their content and be more aligned to the advertising company’s values to reattract their source of income. This campaign has already seen success, with companies such as Lego ending their contracts with the Daily Mail.
On top of this, the DPFS will be starting a campaign to write to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), highlighting offensive headlines that go against our Union value of inclusivity and pressurising them to investigate these tabloids’ editorial standards. The aim is to involve any students interested so, if you’d like to help with this, please email firstname.lastname@example.org