THE British press has often had a rocky relationship with unions and strike action. Despite right-wing tabloids in the UK marketing themselves as a voice for “common sense” and the working class, the interests of those papers and their readers often find themselves severely out of alignment.

In 1984, during the miners’ strike, The Sun newspaper was infamously forced to run a front page that highlighted the paper’s anti-union stance. The Sun had been attempting to publish a picture of the National Union of Miners’ leader Arthur Scargill (pictured) that had been snapped as he raised his arm to wave at a rally, freezing him in a pose that looked, out of context, like a Nazi salute.

The picture was intended to run next to the headline “Mine Fuhrer” which, while I’ll admit is a pretty decent pun, was also a disgusting slur intended to further smear the strikers.

Union members refused to publish the intended front page in solidarity with the miners, instead running with a message that read: “Members of all The Sun production chapels refused to handle the Arthur Scargill picture and major headline on our lead story. The Sun has decided, reluctantly, to print the paper without either.” In response, Rupert Murdoch moved printing operations to a new location to lock out the print unions and to continue pursuing an agenda in opposition to the working class without hindrance.

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Now we find ourselves in the midst of hot strike summer and our press is once again failing at what I would consider to be a tenet of journalism – and perhaps the most important: to hold power to account.

Institutions like the BBC have long been criticised for their myopic and often damaging understanding of what “impartiality” in the press is supposed to look like. Rather than tackling issues without fear or favour, as a non-partisan news source should, instead the broadcaster has often found itself puzzling over the good and the bad as if they were the same thing. This form of alleged “impartiality” has left the broadcaster arguing at times as if objective truth no longer exists, reducing important events and controversies to a game of he said, she said.

Outwith the realm of philosophy, where the concept of objective reality may well come under more scrutiny, this has led to the positions of climate scientists and LGBT+ charities being platformed alongside climate change deniers and small anti-trans organisations, as if both hold equally valid and well-founded positions – like somebody had overheard Michael Gove’s bold claim that we’d all had enough of experts and set to mould the channel in his image.

Rather than focus on the practical data provided by climate scientists, and the alarming conclusions that it draws about the consequences of fossil-fuel extraction, instead we are drawn into a circus that delays necessary action.

The spectre of impartiality loomed last week too during a back and forth on Twitter between Gary Lineker and a BBC journalist who chided the sports personality for commenting negatively on the revelation that raw sewage was being dumped on to public beaches. Perhaps behaving as if water companies spilling industrial effluent into England’s coastal waters is a morally neutral act is one of the reasons that trust continues to fall in the media.

And while the water industry in England cutting corners and polluting public areas is not a story explicitly connected to strike action, it does fit into the broader theme of our summer of discontent; of companies and institutions putting their profits ahead of the wellbeing, health and wages of the workers.

The UK is facing a reckoning between workers and bosses over wages and practices on a scale that has been absent for decades, and much of our media has approached the issue with all the cheer and faux pleasantries of a weekend breakfast show – like spiralling inflation is just an opinion that can be out-debated while a presenter beats some eggs nearby.

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Worse still, some appear to be suggesting that just throwing on a jumper this winter, when the cost of living crisis will squeeze the hardest, is a better solution than taking the greed of profit-smashing energy companies to task.

Whether it’s the bin strikes in Edinburgh or the seriousness of the cost of living crisis, our media has been at times absent when it comes to finding the real culprit – and I’m not just talking about the Daily Star choosing to run another Princess Diana front page over a focus on declining living standards.

The fact is that there are answers to why we have found ourselves in this situation, and it’s not because of greedy workers.

It’s the consequences of austerity, of the Government’s drive to defund institutions and councils, of CEOs and shareholders filling their pockets while asking staff to tighten their belts. The sooner our media stops treating these facts like mere talking points from opposition politicians, or obfuscating them to protect the wealth of billionaires, the sooner the public will know where to rightly direct their anger. But that won’t be happening any time soon, and so it remains on us to continue marching.