By DEA Honorary Secretary Dr David Shearman
The two momentous decisions of the week came from the Guardian newspaper.
The UK Guardian launched a campaign of science and conscience to reverse humanity’s self-destructive pursuit of burning all of the world’s fossil fuels: and in Australia Climate change: why the Guardian is putting threat to Earth front and centre was published.
I urge every DEA member to read retiring editor Rusbridger’s article and also the story of how the initiative arose.
There is a Guardian petition which calls for the Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to ditch their fossil fuel investments and which we ask all DEA members to sign
Vitally important in the delivery of this aim was the appointment of Katharine Viner as editor–in–chief.
The two decisions fit together in the tradition of the Guardian’s independence, social liberalism and stance on human rights. Born in 1821 as the Manchester Guardian, of north of England grit in the industrial revolution, the mission was to “zealously enforce the principles of civil and religious Liberty … warmly advocate the cause of Reform … endeavour to assist in the diffusion of just principles of Political Economy and … support, without reference to the party from which they emanate, all serviceable measures” it has maintained its stance for nigh on 200 years.
Today when the press barons seek power and influence for themselves and items of media are chips at the gambling table, the retiring editor Alan Rusbridger was an intellectual relying on the power of reasoned argument rather than slogan or diatribe. To me he had the impression of a classical scholar sometimes seen shuffling around the nooks and corridors of Oxford or Cambridge Universities.
Viner brings different qualities to a sphere where the male gender has brought little advance in the real needs of the world. She has established the Guardian in the US and formed the Australian edition. The Guardian is run by a charitable trust which maintains independence, possibly unique for a major media group; the appointment of Viner was an exercise in democracy.
The Guardian is a beacon in the darkness of media vested interest and banality. As a boy in the north of England, I realised that the daily Guardian was revered, pages had to be smoothed and folded back into place. As a teen, it was the writer and critic Neville Cardus who addicted me. Perhaps the greatest of cricket writers he sat at Old Trafford by day, penning his article, and in the evening he was music critic- and a famous one- attending the great Halle orchestra in Manchester free Trade Hall. He was both a friend of Bradman and an authority on Beethoven.
Many decades later there is a crisis in the Shearman household if the weekly Guardian does not arrive on Friday—and a pecking order as to who reads it first—I will not describe the rules in case I am admonished by Katherine Viner…
And by the way, for cricket tragics such as me, the Guardian tells us that climate change advocacy can learn much from cricket!
24 March 2015