So today, in another test of our ability to read the news without taking offence, our activists are alarmed that Great British Bake Off winner, Nadiya Hussain, was dropped from the front page of the Daily Mail. For three years in a row, it is claimed, the paper ran stories about the winner on their front page, but this year when it was won by a hijab wearing Muslim woman the story was relegated to page 7. It is a clear case of bigotry.
Now I detest the Daily Mail — claims about bigotry are hardly exaggerated — but this latest wailing lament is just daft. Here are some observable facts:
1. They didn’t run GBBO “stories” on their front page — they just had a photo of the winner and a headline.
2. In the Scottish edition of the paper, they did feature “the Nadinator” on their front page.
3. In their English edition, in the photo slot usually reserved for Bake Off winners, they featured the mourning wife and children of the murdered Police Officer Dave Philips.
4. They published a 5000+ word spread about Nadiya inside their paper from page 7.
5. The article about last year’s winner was also “relegated” to page 7.
6. By my count the Daily Mail has published at least 15 articles about Nadiya over the past two weeks.
There are many unreported stories we should lament, but this really isn’t one of them. The Daily Mail is a newspaper largely devoted to celebrity gossip, scandals, sport, dresses and lingerie, and Islamic Extremism. It is not a serious newspaper by any measure. Its primary objective is to sell and make its investors wealthy — hence the proliferation of photos of under-dressed famous people and lurid click-bate headlines. Nadiya, as it happens, also sells — 14 million people tuned in to watch the Great British Bake Off final on Wednesday; with millions of viewers rooting for her, it would hardly be sensible to ignore the story.
If Nadiya’s success teaches us anything — though I am wary of the spectacle of groups claiming her, as if her hijab, ethnicity or religion is all there is to her — it is that we need to make the most of our gifts and cheerfully strive to accomplish our goals irregardless of the obstacles placed in our way. In short, to be nice, good people, just getting on with things. Our activists still have much to learn.