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Day: September 15, 2012

This ‘No More Page 3’ petition is highly unlikely to do anything but the sentiment is fab

In the past few days some momentum (well I say some momentum – a few people have blogged on it but actually at the point of writing only 8,772 have signed the petition despite featuring in national newspapers) but lets ignore that and pretend the momentum is gathering.

I have strong feelings on Page 3. I don’t like it but I don’t feel that it should be banned. This petition though isn’t about banning it. It is about getting the editor of The Sun to decide that it is time to move on and ditch this aspect of his newspaper. Sounds good in practice but one of the posts talking about it entitled ‘For what it’s worth‘ sums up exactly why the petition has very little chance of succeeding:

The campaign isn’t trying to censor The Sun, either; no one is seeking to “ban” Page 3, but merely wishes to implore Dominic Mohan, the editor of the paper, to do away with it. It is not good enough to merely cease to buy the paper, or skip the page; firstly, because many of the supporters of the campaign probably do not read the paper in the first place, but also because ignoring a problem does not fix it.

So as the author says herself the petition isn’t exactly aimed at the people who buy the newspaper so why would the editor of a national newspaper give a damn what people who don’t buy his newspaper think? I mean seriously? If I was the editor of a newspaper and was told that a lot of people who didn’t buy the newspaper anyway were pissed off with a part of my publication then would I give a damn? Of course I wouldn’t and more importantly nor would anyone else.

The problem with this petition (and all of the Page debates) is that The Sun will not stop until they are either banned from doing it or it is not worth it financially. That is it. That is the list. Now I have no doubt that News International do extensive research on this issue and I fully expect they know that if they ditched it but it wasn’t banned then one of their tabloid rivals would straight away go with it and pick-up a significant percentage of their circulation.

If they knew (or believed) that by ditching the Page 3 girl they would increase their circulation as all the people who don’t buy The Sun would suddenly buy it then they would. However they know that the people who don’t buy the newspaper don’t do so primarily because of the tits on show. They lost half a million off their circulation in the past year but that wasn’t because of tits it was because of phone hacking. They’ll also very closely monitor the circulation figures after the Hillsborough report finding what it did. So the newspaper may well see a drop in sales again over the next few months.

Page 3 to The Sun is nothing to do with their thoughts of sexual objectification. It is all about money (like most businesses) and financially it obviously is worth it to them otherwise they wouldn’t do it. The people who don’t like it don’t buy it anyway so why would they care what these people think? Isn’t that a very bizarre way to run a business? Would you run a business where the people who make you money like what you do but those who don’t make you money are complaining and you listen to the latter and not the former?

Look if you want to sign the petition then go for it and good luck to you. I would like to see it succeed as I don’t like Page 3. The link is here but in the real world the likelihood of this petition making waves in the boardroom of News International or even at the editorial level at The Sun is extremely extremely low. You can debate whether that is right or wrong until your heart is content but that is a fact.

The Sun is not going to change its philosophy on Page 3 out of the goodness of their heart. They just won’t. Even if they hit the million signatures that they are aiming for, if they see no drop in their circulation figures then they won’t do anything.

Sometimes we see the world from our own point of view and not from the point of view of others. Page 3 sells newspapers. I don’t like it. You probably don’t like it but it is a fact and until it doesn’t then why would they stop? The Sun as we all know isn’t the bastion of moral fortitude and it doesn’t pretend to be. It is a newspaper that serves as the news of the lowest common denominator. I don’t think that is an unfair statement and the people that buy it are not those who care about tits on Page 3.

If we want to change the perceptions of women and get Page 3 consigned to the history books then this isn’t the way forward. Attitudes need to change within the people that buy the newspaper and not the other way around. A newspaper is not going to take the lead when money is at stake. So it needs other avenues to succeed. What they are I don’t know but I sure as hell know that this won’t change a thing.

Sexism is still prevalent in our society and whilst it is slowly changing (it is slowly changing) there are still many problems. Would killing Page 3 make any difference? Maybe but killing Page 3 is unlikely when there is a willing audience both to buy it and star in it. Change has to happen from the bottom up and a media outlet with shareholders to answer to will not lead the way unless they believe it is financially worthwhile. Like it or not that is the bottom line and that is where the buck will stop.

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