Launched August of this year, the online ‘Stop Funding Hate’ campaign has thrown itself into the fray, spearheading an attack against major tabloids.
This should not be taken as an attack of the right to free press, and indeed should not be considered a form of censorship, as some critics have stated. Stop Funding Hate tweeted against this notion, and rightly acknowledge that at no point does their campaign call for any paper to be removed from sale. Rather it is a criticism and attempt to react against the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Daily Express for printing and stirring up a genre of discrimination and animosity.
Throughout the year the stories thrust upon us by major media outlets reflect little more than cruelty and discrimination. A series of ‘headlines selling hatred’ issued by these papers have come under attack by the Stop Funding Hate video including: ‘Migrants: How many more can we take?’ ; ‘Migrants take all new jobs in Britain’; ‘4,000 foreign murderers and rapists we can’t throw out.’
Even more recently the Stop Funding Hate campaign has criticised the Daily Mail for its running of an article concerning MP Jo Cox’s killer. The front page news of many other publications didn’t feature in the Daily Mail until page 30, and to boot it managed to twist Jo Cox’s murder into a criticism of her politics and also insert the ‘fear of immigration’. It ran under the heading ‘Did Neo-Nazi murder Jo over fear he’d lose council house he grew up in? Terrorist thought property could end up being occupied by an immigrant family – and the MP wouldn’t help him’. It is evident there is a common trend in the type of literature published and that its focus is channelling a genre of hate.
Stop Funding Hate should be applauded as they go beyond a mere criticism of these papers and instead incite action. They have argued that brands which align themselves with these publications through promotions and advertising are helping to fund the streams of hate that the papers issue.
Stop Funding Hate isn’t just aimed at small businesses either. It has shamefaced international leaders to withdraw their advertisements in these papers. By approaching and campaigning towards advertisers there is a hope that this funding will be stopped. After all, brands really do care about maintaining a popular public reputation.
“By increasing national awareness of the ethical and non-humanitarian aspects of consuming this type of news, hopefully the broader readership can wake up to the negative implications of the stories they are actually reading.”
Lego is perhaps the biggest name to respond to this campaign, withdrawing their advertisements and free giveaways from the Daily Mail earlier this month. They acknowledged their decision to move from Daily Mail advertising through a tweet stating: “We have finished the agreement with the Daily Mail and are not planning any future promotional activity with the newspaper.”
Whilst it is fantastic that many people support the campaign’s position against discriminatory press, there are unfortunately many people that are not, as papers chiefly cater towards popular demand. By increasing national awareness of the ethical and non-humanitarian aspects of consuming this type of news, hopefully the broader readership can wake up to the negative implications of the stories they are actually reading. It is here that the Stop Funding Hate campaign is crucial.
The stop funding hate campaign has most successfully drawn attention to this need for change by appealing to people’s emotions through Christmas. The campaign’s clever use of a John Lewis-esque inspired Christmas advert promoting their cause has celebrated the notion of ‘not just for Christmas’. They assert that the cheerful and emotive messages promoted by major brands during the Christmas season are echoing sentiments which are not promoted by the papers they choose to advertise in. For instance the recent heart-warming Heathrow Airport advert promoted by the Daily Mail is distinctly at odds with the headlines noted above. In many respects this reinforces the hypocrisy of the media. The Christmas season, amongst other things, is remembered for tear jerking adverts celebrating family values and friendship. Christmas is a time in which people celebrate friendships and compassion, as such this message would certainly appear a medium by which people can understand and relate to the broader issue of hate press.
I cannot help but think that Stop Funding Help is a good thing. Papers still hold a large monopoly over the media and the information ingested by the public. Should the predominance of these stories (notably eye catching cover stories) promote hatred and negativity? I think not, primarily all it serves to do is fuel further tension, resentment and hatred. I consider the wide dissemination of deliberately provocative and outwardly offensive views to be both unnecessary and toxic. Hopefully the Stop Funding Hate campaign has brought to light, and indeed will continue to, the base line humanitarian and ethical issues that are being populated by a significant proportion of today’s media. It began with the call to remove financing from these papers, but ideally it shall become more influential in changing the nation’s reading habits.