Morning Call: the pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. A third runway, Boris Island, better rail? Please, just decide (Guardian)

Prevarication over aviation policy breeds a dangerous mistrust. The cabinet must take a firm decision, and act on it, writes Jackie Ashley.

2. The German people will decide Europe's fate (Guardian)

Hans Kundnani argues that starkly divided opinion in the EU's biggest economy could be as big a threat to the euro as Greek debt.

3. Will the real David Cameron please stand up? (Times £)

The Prime Minister must stop calculating which way is safest to jump and get out and fight for what he believes, writes Conservative Home's editor Tim Montgomerie.

4. David Cameron praises Paralympians, but his policies will crush them (Independent)

With just days to go until the Paralympics start, the Government still intends to drive 500,000 people off the Disability Living Allowance, writes Owen Jones.

5. The elephant in the room: Romney the pragmatist (Financial Times)

Romney's trademark used to be pragmatism and competency. So how will he survive yoked to the modern-day Republican party, asks Edward Luce.

6. We need much simpler rules to rein in the banks (Financial Times)

Rather than creating complex sets of regulations, banking authorities should focus on naming and enforcing a "bright line" which it is clear that banks should not cross, writes Nicholas Brady.

7. What GCSE English needs is more red ink (Times £)

Libby Purves writes that letting students make errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation is far crueller than altering their grades.

8. I have a confession to make – I go to church (Independent)

Andrew Martin applauds a new report that says religion makes people happier, denies that religion is irrational, and wonders why his friends are so resistant to it.

9. The Thick of It: the agony of tight spaces (Guardian)

Crises come and go but one thing never changes in this show – the politicians are stuck, with no room for manoeuvre, says Ian Martin, one of the show's writers.

10. Terrorists seek a safe haven in Strasbourg (Telegraph)

The Telegraph editorialises against the European Court of Human Rights' "interference" – it is proceeding with an appeal by two British terrorists.

Getty
Show Hide image

The economics of outrage: Why you haven't seen the end of Katie Hopkins

Her distasteful tweet may have cost her a job at LBC, but this isn't the last we've seen of Britain's biggest troll. 

Another atrocity, other surge of grief and fear, and there like clockwork was the UK’s biggest troll. Hours after the explosion at the Manchester Arena that killed 22 mostly young and female concert goers, Katie Hopkins weighed in with a very on-brand tweet calling for a “final solution” to the complex issue of terrorism.

She quickly deleted it, replacing the offending phrase with the words “true solution”, but did not tone down the essentially fascist message. Few thought it had been an innocent mistake on the part of someone unaware of the historical connotations of those two words.  And no matter how many urged their fellow web users not to give Hopkins the attention she craved, it still sparked angry tweets, condemnatory news articles and even reports to the police.

Hopkins has lost her presenting job at LBC radio, but she is yet to lose her column at Mail Online, and it’s quite likely she won’t.

Mail Online and its print counterpart The Daily Mail have regularly shown they are prepared to go down the deliberately divisive path Hopkins was signposting. But even if the site's managing editor Martin Clarke was secretly a liberal sandal-wearer, there are also very good economic reasons for Mail Online to stick with her. The extreme and outrageous is great at gaining attention, and attention is what makes money for Mail Online.

It is ironic that Hopkins’s career was initially helped by TV’s attempts to provide balance. Producers could rely on her to provide a counterweight to even the most committed and rational bleeding-heart liberal.

As Patrick Smith, a former media specialist who is currently a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News points out: “It’s very difficult for producers who are legally bound to be balanced, they will sometimes literally have lawyers in the room.”

“That in a way is why some people who are skirting very close or beyond the bounds of taste and decency get on air.”

But while TV may have made Hopkins, it is online where her extreme views perform best.  As digital publishers have learned, the best way to get the shares, clicks and page views that make them money is to provoke an emotional response. And there are few things as good at provoking an emotional response as extreme and outrageous political views.

And in many ways it doesn’t matter whether that response is negative or positive. Those who complain about what Hopkins says are also the ones who draw attention to it – many will read what she writes in order to know exactly why they should hate her.

Of course using outrageous views as a sales tactic is not confined to the web – The Daily Mail prints columns by Sarah Vine for a reason - but the risks of pushing the boundaries of taste and decency are greater in a linear, analogue world. Cancelling a newspaper subscription or changing radio station is a simpler and often longer-lasting act than pledging to never click on a tempting link on Twitter or Facebook. LBC may have had far more to lose from sticking with Hopkins than Mail Online does, and much less to gain. Someone prepared to say what Hopkins says will not be out of work for long. 

0800 7318496