The “best newspapers in the world”? I don’t think so.

Hooray! Someone else who shares my scepticism of the deluded hubris of the British newspaper industry. Vigorous polemic by Kevin Marsh.

Of all the arguments in favour of newspaper paywalls, one is utter tosh. It is that we – the readers – must pay online to preserve what one tabloid editor once called “the best newspapers in the world”. It’s a description that’s reared its head again this week.

Now, as a general rule it’s always a good idea to reach for your revolver when you hear anyone say any country has the best TV/health service/newspapers/football teams … anything “in the world”.

Not because we/they don’t, necessarily. But because life’s more complicated than that. But one thing we absolutely, certainly, assuredly don’t have here in the UK is the best newspapers in the world. Full stop.

If we did, a quarter of those who used to buy them wouldn’t have stopped doing so over the past 20 years – a desertion that long predates the web, incidentally. If we did, our press wouldn’t be one of the least trusted institutions in the land and our newspaper journalists the least trusted in the world.

We wouldn’t have journalists sent to prison for hacking into mobile-phone mailboxes. Nor editors fired for printing fake photographs or “setting the agenda” while, by their own admission, still drunk from the night before, or admitting that they pay policemen to breach their public trust and give information to journalists.

A newspaper group wouldn’t have had to pay the McCanns hundreds of thousands of pounds for quite literally making up over 100 separate defamatory articles.

Right on. The truth is that Britain has some quite good newspapers, and a larger number of truly awful ones which — among other things — make it impossible for society to have a grown-up discussion about the really hard problems that our society needs to address: like what to do about our over-crowded prisons; immigration policy; the NHS; the BBC; the environment; etc., etc.