The interested public

Am I the only one who’s noticed the way this phrase “in the public interest” is being twisted? There is a subtle but significant difference between that which is in the public interest, and that in which the public is interested. The former is about informing our democratic processes, and giving us the information we need to make intelligent choices about issues that affect us collectively. The latter is about titillating whatever desire we might have to rubber-neck at things which might affect us not at all, but we want to know all about anyway. As a rule of thumb, I’m guessing that anything at all that appears in Closer magazine is more about interesting the public than public interest.

Nobody else gets the photos of their mother’s car crash in glorious technicolour on Channel 4, nor would they wish to, is all I’m saying. And what’s more, the media moguls who are blurring the definition of the phrase in these situations are not idiots. They know precisely what they are doing.