breaking news from the world of ideas

by Kristina Murkett
Thursday, 19
August 2021
Explainer
11:00

TikTok’s bizarre new craze: reporting the news

The app is leading journalism in a strange new direction

TikTok, the most downloaded app of 2020, is expanding into the news business. Influencers and news outlets are capitalising on TikTok’s young user base (60 percent of its US users are between 16 and 24 years old) to drive engagement and build their brand: The Washington Post now has 900,000 TikTok followers; NBC has 1 million. Max Foster, a London-based CNN reporter, has 380,000 followers, more than his audience on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram combined. 

Just as infographics took over Instagram, news videos are a hit on TikTok because they provide a perfect tool to create a succinct, story-telling snapshot. One of the most recent TikTok news success stories is this Guardian Australia video breaking down the current Afghanistan crisis, which amassed over 4.5 million views. Dave Jorgensen, self-proclaimed ‘Washington Post TikTok guy’, retweeted the video, saying that it was “really well done” and “accessible.” ...  Continue reading

by Kristina Murkett
Tuesday, 20
July 2021
Idea
11:05

It’s time to talk about Covid vaccines and periods

Women have reported changes to their menstrual cycle after being jabbed

Recently Pfizer and Moderna regulators announced that they would be adding heart inflammation as a potential side effect of their Covid vaccines. The European Medicines Agency found 145 cases of myocarditis and 138 cases of pericarditis out of 177m doses given of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and 19 cases of myocarditis and 19 cases of pericarditis out of 20 million doses given of the Moderna vaccine.

This is an important update, but it raises another question: why haven’t menstrual cycle changes been listed as a potential side effect too, given that over 13,000 women in the UK have reported this, and the true number is likely to be much higher? ...  Continue reading

by Kristina Murkett
Thursday, 17
June 2021
Reaction
07:00

The UK-Australia trade deal is a disaster for animal rights

The Government is breaking its manifesto promise about protecting animal welfare

Yesterday the UK agreed a historic free-trade deal with Australia, and while much has been written about how the move will affect farmers, less has been considered about how this will affect animal rights.

The RSPCA released a statement yesterday warning that the deal will lead to lower welfare imports of animal products that have been reared in ways that are currently illegal here; for example, 40% of beef produced in Australia has been made using hormones, a practice not allowed in the UK.

Indeed, Australia has a pretty poor record when it comes to animal welfare standards; the Chief Executive of RSPCA Australia called them “basic at best.” In Australia, CCTV is not compulsory in slaughterhouses; hot branding is permitted; beef cattle can be transported for up to 48 hours without food or water in intense heat; and they also allow chlorinated chicken. Battery cages for laying hens and sow stalls (tiny cages used to prevent pregnant pigs from moving) are also both legal, as well as the practice of mulesing (cutting off parts of the sheep’s buttocks and tail with no pain relief.) ...  Continue reading

by Kristina Murkett
Thursday, 10
June 2021
Idea
11:10

Abolishing grammar schools created today’s poshocracy

The main beneficiaries were private schools

In his 1961 dystopian short story Harrison Bergeron, Kurt Vonnegut imagines a world where “everyone is finally equal.” Society is ruled by a man called The Handicapper General, whose agents force citizens to don handicaps in the name of equality: masks for those who are too beautiful, heavy weights for those who are too athletic, earpieces with disruptive white noise for those who are too intelligent. No-one is allowed any natural advantage, and in the end, everyone suffers.

A similar argument could be applied to the abolition of grammar schools. Rather than sending a substantial minority to grammar schools, which would greatly increase the diversity of people working across the professions, we send next to none as we would think it unfair on those left behind. Instead, everyone is left behind. ...  Continue reading

by Kristina Murkett
Thursday, 20
May 2021
Campus Wars
07:00

The University of Essex turns on Stonewall

The group's misrepresentation of the law is a cautionary tale

This week the University of Essex published an open apology to two female professors who it had no-platformed in December 2019 due to their gender-critical views. The university also published a full report replete with recommendations and future actions. These are interesting for two reasons.

Firstly, the findings are damning of Stonewall, who they blame for undermining the “university’s obligations to uphold freedom of expression” and giving an “incorrect summary of the law” and “misleading policies”. In short, Stonewall annually reviews the University’s ‘Supporting Trans and Non Binary Staff’ policy, and it seems that they advised the university that gender-critical academics can legitimately be excluded from the institution. However, this was an “erroneous understanding of equality law” — gender identity is not a protected characteristic under the Equalities Act 2010 — and the examples of harassment suggested in the policy were not actually unlawful. ...  Continue reading

by Kristina Murkett
Friday, 7
May 2021
Spotted
11:56

Now women’s literature is cancelled

Changes to the exam syllabus in the name of 'inclusivity' are damaging to women

OCR, one of the three main exam boards in the UK, is currently asking teachers to vote on a proposed series of changes to help diversify its GCSE and A-level courses. One of the suggestions is whether to change its A-level module ‘Women in Literature’ to ‘Gender in Literature,’ as this would apparently ‘help pupils better understand the topic.’

What this would really do is erase women’s voices and their contribution to literature.

In an ideal world, female writers would have enough representation on the curriculum to not need our own “special” category —  sadly this is not the case. In the four other optional modules for the Context and Comparison paper, only two out of eight set texts are written by women. In the other paper — Shakespeare, drama and poetry before 1900 — only one out of eleven optional writers are female. ...  Continue reading

by Kristina Murkett
Friday, 23
April 2021
Debate
10:20

OnlyFans is an experiment in mass grooming

The service harnesses the language of sexual liberation to exploit its users

OnlyFans, an online subscription website in which (predominantly) women create and sell “adult” content, claims to be a meritocratic, risk-free, get-rich-quick scheme, but the reality is anything but. Despite the endless viral posts, like this week’s story of the “healthcare worker” who now makes one and a half times his annual salary in a month” or the “ex-teacher who earned £1million,” the truth is that the average earnings from OnlyFans are $180 a month, and most successful accounts are run by porn stars, influencers and celebrities.

For the vast majority of people, the risks are simply not worth the rewards. Because the marketplace is so crowded, most users promote their OnlyFans through their social media accounts, so it is hard to remain completely anonymous. There are numerous examples of women being outed as sex workers, fired, or even having their children kicked out of school. Women also report being stalked, harassed, hacked, and asked to engage in behaviours that make them feel uncomfortable like choking – and yet OnlyFans is still glamorised as a safe, sanitised form of sex work. ...  Continue reading

by Kristina Murkett
Friday, 29
January 2021
Spotted
07:00

A public health campaign based on a pussy pun — really?

MyGP's new campaign has got people talking for all the wrong reasons

Attendance for smear tests is at a 19 year low. According to the BBC, in April and May last year 600,000 tests failed to go ahead, adding to the backlog of 1.5 million appointments missed annually. Each year initiatives are launched to try and encourage women to attend, ranging from scare tactics of shaved heads and don’t regret it later warnings to infantilising slogans like “don’t be a diva, it’s only a beaver!”

This year’s campaign by MyGP is firmly in the latter camp: a bizarre call to arms for women to post pictures of their “furry friends” in order to normalise the fact that many of us have had to “abandon our usual grooming regimes” and so may feel embarrassed about revealing our “bits”. Oh, and by “furry friends” they mean cats: “long emblematic of our nether regions”. Yes, it’s a public health campaign based on a pussy pun. ...  Continue reading