Depending on the state of your social life, or the age of your kids, there’s a fair chance you were watching telly at midnight on Monday. I was.
The more sober will have noticed that the London fireworks this year came wrapped in ‘remain’ messaging. “London is open!” proclaimed the PA system in multiple languages and EU blue and yellow was much in evidence in the display. This will have been greeted by howls of rage by half the country and roars of approval by the other half.
Over in the States, the celebrations in New York’s Times Square also came laden with messaging, though perhaps less divisive.
This year, the button that triggered the famous ball-drop, was pressed, not by a Hollywood A-lister, but by eleven journalists, invited by the organisers to publicise the erosion of press freedom both in the US and abroad. That’s a message that all fair-minded people could relate to, even if they had tuned in hoping to see Beyoncé or Mariah Carey.
Amongst the eleven were Karen Attiah, who edited the Washington Post columns of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, as well as representatives of US news organisations, including Fox News.
Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said: “People who are watching across the country will see the media together, standing on the stage, visually united behind this principle. That’s a positive message at a time when journalists around the world are threatened as never before.”
Hear, hear! Each cough and splutter from the press freedom canary is a sign of impending peril for society. Malign actors always attack the press first, so I’m pleased to see that, in this age of Trump, others are taking on a leadership role on this important issue.
Happy New Year!