I was going to congratulate the Guardian, a paper which has sometimes annoyed me for its snobbery and anti Royalist views, for its courage in standing alone amongst the British papers and covering PRISM and Tempora. I was going to say how I was saddened by the tone the Independent is taking and how it no longer lives up to its name. I was impressed by today’s Guardian for citing quality papers around the world who admiring reported on its stance of printing Snowden’s revelation, and their reaction to all the other British papers attacking the Guardian for doing so. No other British paper or magazine was cited. I was about to say how I wish there was a “G” to rival the i, a mini version of the Guardian, and how I am sorry there are no comparable British newspapers.
And then I read today’s Hopi Sen article on welfare and I wondered which website I was on. Did my hand slip and I typed “Torygraph” instead of Guardian? The majority of the comments – and there are many, already over 200 – showed that Hopi is not the voice of the newspaper’s readership or the public, despite what he claimed. He tries to present his ideas as unarguable. His words both frightened and angered me. Interventions….! He clearly has no idea, and neither has the comment poster who thinks that long term unemployment is about a lack in social skills, education, mental health and drugs. The jobseeking system is about pigeonholing, drop down menus, and is ignorant that lots of people who are healthy and intelligent do not meet it. It cares little about matching people to appropriate jobs, and I have met many graduates (even PhD holders) who found themselves offered silly, inappropriate roles that would not benefit them or the company. There are some very capable literate people who struggle to work enough to be self sufficient. One comment poster said that Tories don’t empathise with there being no jobs because they’d create ones for themselves by starting a business. Yes, create your own job in principle – but this involves money, and if you do not have it and the right support – it is very very hard to do. It’s made worse by most of us having less money to spend so that new businesses may not be sustainable. And the self made rich are often the hardest on claimants and the ones whose empires crush others and push round the capitalist wheel.
I would like to have shared some of this with the Guardian website itself, but this paragraph in the terms and conditions precluded me:
“You or the owner of the content still own the copyright in the content sent to us, but by submitting content to us, you are granting us an unconditional, irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully transferable, perpetual worldwide licence to use, publish and/or transmit, and to authorise third-parties to use, publish and/or transmit your content in any format and on any platform, either now known or hereinafter invented.”
This all too common phrase regarding reader comments and other submissions should be as illegal as industrial snooping and forced labour.
Why not say – the content’s yours but you give us the right to publish it on any of our sites, but you can delete it. And we will Not sell or pass it on?
Taking people’s work without pay is the bottom line of much of our welfare issues, for too many of us do not get rewarded for what we do – hence my campaign against use of internships and volunteers. The issue of big companies imposing their values on the public and taking away their rights and ownership is behind many major imbalances in this world which urgently needs addressing.
I’d like to think that the Guardian led the way on that, as it has on other recent issues.
PS Why ask for letter writer’s address and phone no for verification – isn’t that the kind of snooping the paper rallies against?!