Meet Tom, Dick and Harriet

It is, apparently, a conspiracy. Tens of thousands of people join an anti-cuts protest in London, and the media clubs together to deny their voices the publicity they deserve.

The puffed-up, self-satisfied, middle-class media once again deliberately ignores the furious howls of ordinary people.

It's an outrage. Or, at least, it would be if it was true.

I can't imagine many of those most virulently complaining have ever actually been in a newsroom, And certainly not a barely-staffed weekend operation.

If you're lucky you'll have one, maybe two reporters. And perhaps half a dozen stories worth sending them to. If you bitterly complain your event was ignored by the media don't worry, your enemy's event probably didn't make it either.

It's amazing how many people, from opposite sides of the political spectrum, seem to see evidence of a grand media conspiracy against them.

Iain Duncan-Smith devotes extraordinary energy, time you might imagine would be better spent on the presumably busy job of being a cabinet minister, to accusing the BBC of deliberately undermining his benefit reforms.

Oddly he claims too much air time is given to precisely the sort of demonstrators who themselves claim to have cruelly excluded from the debate.

Let me explain through the medium of a faintly patronising illustration. Meet Tom, Dick and Harriet....

Patronising graphic

Tom sits broadly on the left of politics.  In fact, to him most Labour MPs are a bit suspect. From his position our poor, bedraggled journalist appears dangerously right-wing.

But as far as Dick is concerned, that same journalist peddles left-wing myths, far from the truth in his right-wing world.

Even Harriet, somewhat more moderate than Tom or Dick but still inching a little to the right, has her doubts about a journalist who appears to lean a little to the left of her own views.

Sorry, but we're all biased to some extent. We all have opinions, even journalists. Especially journalists, actually, given how much news we choose to expose ourselves to.

But the difference between us and the likes of Tom, Dick and Harriet is that we have to put our opinions to one side when we're at work.

In twenty years I've never once witnessed a discussion, explicit or implicit, about how we can best pursue our grand left or right-wing conspiracy. Because, and I hate to disappoint you, there isn't one.

It's a cliché perhaps, but also true that when journalists are annoying both those with power and those without it, they're probably doing their job properly.

So why didn't the anti-cuts protest make the news? Because, on balance, the same people saying the same things all over again isn't all that interesting.

Personally, if I had to watch Russell Brand make yet another tortured political speech there's a good chance I might have thrown a rock at the TV.

But I’ve seen plenty of stories about people affected by cuts in benefits or council budgets, including a pretty big one the day before the protest, and plenty of politicians calling those cuts essential savings.

There are, I'm sure, individuals who carry their bias with them. But it's hard to take claims of an institutionally biased media seriously, when allegations of bias come from so many different directions.

If you want to keep the debate going, find new and compelling ways to make your arguments. You’d have more time to do that if you didn’t waste so much of it bitching about bias that simply isn’t there.