Newspapers operate on different levels of reality


David Mitchell published last Saturday that “the press can’t stray too far from the truth or its legal bills get out of control“. That would not explain the success of “newspapers” that make a fortune out of libel for years and decades. They sell crap that is tolerated just for the same reason that junk food “restaurants” are not sued for health and safety reasons.

Mitchell might miss the point that people do not care anymore about what is printed, but about getting its morality massaged and relaxed by satisfying a few needs of the higher layers of Maslow’s hierarchy:

  • the need to be stirred by in-your-face provocateurs like benefit cheaters, bankers or over paid footballers. If their attitudes are offensive enough, one’s intimate convictions get reinforced by their insult
  • the need to be moved by honorable members of the society like relatives of soldiers in Afganistan so that you identify with the group that share your own values
  • the need to get aroused by impossibly beautiful women (or men) posing sexy and receptive
  • the need to be impressed by successful celebrities in the politics, sports, business and fashion worlds so that the reader’s confidence in mainstream role models and leaders gets reassured and reinforced

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