On Monday evening a freelance producer sent me an email. He’s working on a new series of gardening pod-casts for ‘The Sun‘ newspaper’s website and invited me to take part in a filmed telephone interview with the series presenter, a well-known media gardener. It sounded jolly: a five or ten minute chat about winter gardening tasks and my blog. Without too much thought, and whilst busy making a fish pie, I replied, “Yes, of course!” I mean, what blogger wouldn’t lunge at such an opportunity?
But later, prodding the wood-burner and sated with pie, I mulled over my decision and knew I’d made a mistake. Any publicity for my blog is a good thing, right? That had been my initial reaction. But hang on, hold those horses. The Sun? Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun? A paper I loathe and whose owner I loathe in fairly equal measure? And I should stress that my distaste isn’t only because I disagree with The Sun’s politics, though I do. After all, I recently did an interview with The Telegraph! It’s The Sun’s small-mindedness, the bile, fearmongering and the untruths that I can’t stomach nor forgive. From a long list of grievances, it’s the historic homophobia – which as a young gay man in the 80’s filled me with anger and despair; it’s the lies including, but by no means restricted to, Hillsborough; it’s the thigh-rubbing and drooling over the sex-lives of others; it’s the ongoing phone hacking scandal; it’s the bully attacks on anyone who doesn’t toe Murdoch’s line; and it’s the meddling in domestic politics by a non-UK-tax-paying-living-in-America media baron. What had I been thinking? Annoyed with myself for saying yes, I wrote again to the producer saying no.
Am I guilty of stiff-necked hubris in refusing this rare opportunity? Maybe but saying ‘No‘ feels right. I wonder though whether saying ‘No‘ makes a difference to anyone but myself. I imagine somebody was only too happy to take my place in the interview and neither the presenter nor the producer seem to harbour any qualms about working for Murdoch. Perhaps they like The Sun. A lot of people do. Or perhaps they like the monetary inducement and if so who am I to judge. As I wasn’t offered any payment, it was easy for me to walk away. But what if – a big if – I had been offered £200 or £500? Or a regular income? Would I still have turned down the interview? I’d like to think so but I do ponder the price sticker on my convictions. Who but the richest can easily say otherwise? Wouldn’t most of us just hold our noses and take the cash? I hope not.
What really, finally convinced me to say ‘No‘ to The Sun was the embarrassment, shame actually, at the prospect of advertising my collaboration on this blog and on social media, to my friends and family. Given my deep-rooted prejudice against Murdoch and all that he stands for, to write the words, “I’ve been interviewed by The Sun. You can listen to it via this link” would be unconscionable. And if I felt too ashamed to tell anyone what I’d done, how could I possibly take part. Some, possibly a lot, more traffic to my blog is hardly reason enough.
What do you think? Is there a company or organisation you wouldn’t countenance working for? And if so, is there a price – not necessarily financial – that might twist your arm?