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Our office has had newspapers delivered for some years. I don't recall the staff were ever consulted on what newspapers they wanted, but staff read them during lunch or coffee breaks.

Recently the newspapers put out changed. One of them was replaced by the Daily Mail. For those unfamiliar with the UK news market, this is a popular but unpleasant tabloid with a long history of disreputable journalism. Wikipedia considers it of such poor quality that it refuses to accept it as a source.

As is not wholly uncommon in such media, it has a sorry reputation for stirring up panics and hatred against minority groups. This has become severe enough that the pressure group "Stop Funding Hate" campaigns to have big-brand advertisers pull their adverts from the paper.

We were given no notification of this change, and no reasons for it. I believe the newspaper are ordered via a small staff committee who organise occasional social activities. So it is unlikely to be a management decision.

I am angry and uncomfortable at this alteration and that such disreputable opinions are being read and spread around the office. Do I have to just accept it, or is it possible I can somehow push back against the decision? If it is appropriate to complain, how can I best go about it without starting a political fight?

Controversial Post — You may use comments ONLY to suggest improvements. You may use answers ONLY to provide a solution to the specific question asked above. Moderators will remove debates, arguments or opinions without notice.

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    If you are considering commenting, keep in mind if you don't have anything nice, don't say it at all. – enderland Nov 28 '17 at 19:54
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    If you are considering commenting, also keep in mind that the purpose of comments is to improve the post (e.g. by asking clarifying questions), not to have discussions. – Monica Cellio Nov 29 '17 at 16:53
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    Can you give us an indication of the mix of newspapers provided? Do they cover all shades of political opinion? – RoyC Nov 30 '17 at 11:38
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    "I am angry ... that such disreputable opinions are being read and spread around the office." Is this actually what is happening? Isn't it plausible that your colleagues will just ignore that paper among your office selection, or perhaps pick it up strictly for entertainment and ignore the bad journalism? – Brandin Dec 1 '17 at 17:57
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    The word "objectionable" in the title feels misleading. More accurate might be "controversial." – Brandin Dec 1 '17 at 18:02

17 Answers 17

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To me, there are two reasons to object to a publication being in the office. One is that I might feel upset or disgusted if I catch sight of a headline. Since newspapers are often displayed outside in public in the UK, this is probably not an "extra" risk. The other is the effect of that material on my co-workers. In the 70s, pinup calendars were present in a number of my workplaces. I had to explain repeatedly that this was not about not wanting to see naked ladies, but about not wanting to try to have a work conversation with someone who had just been staring at a naked lady. I believe your issue with the DM is similar.

Step 1 will be to find out who made the change. You're more likely to get an answer if you imply you're missing the old paper than upset about the new. A quick stick-your-head-in to the boss "hey, what happened to the Daily Gleaner? It never occurred to me to wonder who chose those papers!" should probably get you the information that you need. Then you can ask that person (or a member of the group) why they made the change, and if they'd consider replacing it with something more neutral. It might all happen very smoothly and simply.

I think plenty of people are willing to defend the freedom of others to read hateful things at work. The fact is there is very clearly a line, even if we don't all agree where it's drawn. In the US, few people would be comfortable with an openly Communist newspaper kicking around the lunchroom. In Germany, a Nazi one would be illegal. If NAMBLA were to publish a paper that didn't have any pictures, just espoused their opinions on how kids should be allowed to have sex with adults (their typical phrasing), again that would not be welcome in a workplace. While any individual (especially one who hasn't read the DM) might not think the DM was "over the line", the fact remains that a line exists, and that employees can do something about an employer providing material that they feel is over that line.

So Step 2 if your boss says "it was Betty," you stop by to see Betty. Maybe says "oh I just grab 3 or 4 every day at the corner shop, and they stopped carrying the Daily Beano so I switched to the DM." And you ask her to maybe not get that one and she looks blank and says "but it's very popular." Well I guess in that case you will have to go back to your boss (Step 3), as a conduit to the powers that be, and explain your feelings. You'll have to be emotionally vulnerable about the impact the presence of the paper has on you. Some people might consider it too much work. But that will be the route to having someone stop by Betty's desk and say "pick a different paper next time, that one upsets people."

And Step 4? If management think you're making a mountain out of a molehill or actively like the paper and directed "Betty" to include it? There may be some sort of tribunal to which you could go about a hostile work environment. Chances are that the DM won't be far enough over the line to qualify, but by that time you may be getting unpleasant pushback from people who like it and have learned you're trying to get rid of it, so ...

It would be a good idea to decide in advance how far you're willing to go with this.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Monica Cellio Nov 30 '17 at 17:51
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    Anyone who thinks using X to show there is a line that Y might or might not be over is equating X to Y needs to brush up on reading comprehension. Extreme examples make it easy to see a line exists. – Kate Gregory Nov 30 '17 at 18:02
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    @KateGregory, so you are aware, this Meta has been started about the contents of that edit. – David K Nov 30 '17 at 19:43
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The employer gets to choose the facilities to provide at the workplace, subject to legal/statutory requirements. They don't need employees' permission to decide things like:

  • Whether to provide newspapers and magazines at the workplace
  • The colour of the workplace building
  • The brand of electrical and bathroom accessories used in the workplace
  • The carpenter to make the office furniture
  • The location of the workplace
  • ... etc ... (You get the idea.)

If their decision directly affects the work you were hired to do, then you should raise the concern with your manager. If a law is being broken, you should raise it with your manager, HR, or law enforcement (preferably in that order). For example, if the "newspaper" is actually hate propaganda or child pornography or some such material that is illegal according to the local laws.

However, in this case, regardless of the reputation of Daily Mail and your strong opinions about it, it doesn't look like ordering it breaks any law or affects your job in any way, so I would advise against confronting the management in this matter.

While you are free to feel angry and uncomfortable about anything, it would do no good to your professional standing in the company to get involved in political activism at work or to pick up a fight over trivial issues. Here are a couple of alternatives you could try instead:

  • Do not read the newspaper that you don't like.
  • Bring in your "preferred" newspaper to read, and maybe even offer it to your coworkers to borrow for reading.
  • Have an informal chat with the committee members and request them to opt for a "less controversial" newspaper.1 Don't get management involved.
  • If you feel really strongly about the issue, part ways with the employer. It is their circus, they can choose their monkeys. If you don't like their monkeys, you can go to always go to another circus.

1 It is common for management to delegate relatively unimportant decisions like "social events" and "fun tasks" to a committee of staff, so I consider that an irrelevant detail. Nonetheless, some users disagree, so I decided to include this option for you.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Monica Cellio Nov 29 '17 at 16:54
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    I lack the reputation to downvote, hence a comment: I feel that this answer fails to account for the actual contents of the DM as well as workplace culture in the UK. Then again, maybe I’m living in a filter bubble: but the answer is fundamentally untrue (on multiple points!) for any of my previous places of employment. – Konrad Rudolph Nov 30 '17 at 10:03
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    -1 because the threshold for a hostile work environment is not in any way related to whether laws are broken or not. – Todd Wilcox Dec 1 '17 at 22:56
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I bet this Newspaper is there, because someone wanted it there. That may be request from employees, a manager or someone from the committee themselves. Whoever it is, you are going to piss him off, if you go against this.

As much as I can relate to your cause, I would recommend to just let it go. You can not win much by getting it cancelled - stupid people will still be stupid, they'll just read their nonsense elsewhere. Intelligent people will still be intelligent - maybe they'll have a look in this newspaper to have something to laugh about. We have the same here with the BILD-Zeitung (yes it really translates PICTURE-Newspaper) Most colleagues will probably not take this seriously.

If you really can't stand it, I would recommend that you not attack the paper itself, but its reputation and the possible negative effect it can have if customers see this around the office. Point out that there are these "stop funding hate" campaigns and you would not like your employer to be seen as "funding hate"

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    This is the best answer, IMO. The paper is there because one or more people wanted it there. The OP should find out who these people are before deciding how to progress, as they could be owner/CEO level, If they are very senior, then attacking the reputation of the paper is much less likely to cause offense, which makes it more likely that something will change. – Trebor Nov 28 '17 at 14:22
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    @Philbo: Hence the recommendation to let it go. But if OP can´t do that, still better to talk about real risks for the company's reputation than about a political agenda. Remember this is the workplace SE, we are not here to advise the OP what to do, but how to do it with the best chances of success. – Daniel Nov 28 '17 at 16:04
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    stupid people will still be stupid Hello high horse. – Sidar Nov 28 '17 at 17:25
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    @Sidar: Did not mean it that way. Was simply referring to the OP's notion this paper was somehow corrupting his colleagues. – Daniel Nov 28 '17 at 18:42
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    As objectionable as “BILD” is, “Daily Mail” is generally considered quite a lot worse so I think this comparison isn’t as apt as it may seem. Germany doesn’t really have an equivalent as far as I know: German tabloids are a lot milder than UK ones. – Konrad Rudolph Nov 30 '17 at 10:36
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I'm afraid that yes, you are being unreasonable.

a) Quick question - have you ever actually read the Daily Mail? Do you read it regularly, or do you just believe what you read about the Daily Mail in papers like the Guardian? It sounds like you believe all the negative things you've heard about this paper, without ever actually reading it yourself.

As a young school-leaver, I worked in an environment where I didn't want to necessarily be seen reading a broadsheet newspaper (lest I be thought of as "posh"), so I used to regularly read the Mail. I found that it is actually quite a credible newspaper with extensive and quite good political coverage - particularly of the internal dynamics of the Conservative Party, which it is more plugged into than papers like the Guardian. More recently, I have read the Mail on Sunday for its political commentary - it has writers like Peter Hitchens (brother of the late Christopher, and arguably his intellectual equal) and Simon Heffer who (whether or not you share their views) are eloquent writers with an interesting take on contemporary events.

It certainly does print stories which are of questionable veracity - or rather, it presents true facts selectively and with a particular spin. But the same, it has to be said, is sadly true of every British newspaper. I don't think the Mail is any worse for this than the Guardian, the Independent or any other newspaper you choose to mention.

b) Has it occurred to you that some people might find the papers you like to read equally offensive? Presumably if someone is a Mail reader, they might find the Guardian offensive. In fact, just about every British newspaper (with the possible exception of the Times) is controversial and has its detractors. Where does this end? E.g. in a Scottish workplace, how would a company choose between including the pro-Union Scotsman or the (relatively) pro-SNP Herald? presumably either choice would cause equal amounts of "offence" to roughly half the workforce. What if workers start bringing in books which cause offence to their colleagues? Should that be banned too?

c) There is something quite disturbing about the "Stop Funding Hate" campaign. The desire to suppress freedom of the press and freedom of expression is one with unpleasant historical parallels. It might be hyperbolic to compare this to the stifling of the press in, e.g., East Germany or Nazi Germany, but this - along with the blacklisting and "outing", followed by sacking, of various businesspeople and other public figures for having allegedly unpalatable right-wing views, has a lot of echoes of 1950s McCarthyism for me - only in reverse. I find the idea of using coercion and blackmail to try to force the press (or people) to adopt particular political positions to be worrying and deeply authoritarian.

d) In general, I think that your own question suggests that you share this authoritarianism yourself. With respect, you just need to accept that not everyone has the same beliefs as you. Unless you live in a comparatively rare "progressive" beacon like Bristol or Brighton, it's highly probable, based on voting trends in elections, that a significant proportion, and probably even a plurality, of your colleagues have Daily Mail-aligned political and social views. So what? You can't control what the people around you think, and you shouldn't wish to. If you can't be friends with people just because they have different political or social opinions to you, that is, frankly, a sign of intolerance on your part.

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    Good answer, I would add that the basis for living in a liberal democracy is the concept of 'tolerance'. This does not mean liking or supporting things that other people do, it means allowing them to behave and think how they like as long as they are within the law. The notion that we must all have the same opinions and beliefs is the origin of totalitarianism and must be countered whenever we see it. – DrMcCleod Dec 1 '17 at 11:43
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    -1, for the assumption that the OP objects to the Daily Mail purely on the grounds of its politics (as opposed to its racism, homophobia and general intolerance) and spending very little time answering his question. The OP used to get different papers in his office and now he gets the Daily Mail. How is him asking for the old papers back any more unreasonable than someone changing them? The OP doesn't state if his paper of choice was stopped but if that is the case there is no harm in him trying to reverse that decision in a reasonable manner. – Dustybin80 Dec 1 '17 at 14:53
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    Just looked at The Daily Mail web site for the first time. It's blatantly sexist There is a sidebar called "Femail" and it's not about the accomplishments of important women, it's about bikinis and cleavage. The top story today is not the dramatic political fallout of Michael Flynn's guilty plea, it's supposedly scandalous or racy photos of Meghan Markle. And the "where does it end?" argument has always been and always will be specious. -1 – Todd Wilcox Dec 1 '17 at 23:03
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    As much as I dislike the Daily Mail the rest of the world does not revolve around American politics, @Todd there's no reason a British tabloid would lead with Michael Flynn. – Ben Dec 4 '17 at 6:10
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    @Ben Of course. What I didn't make clear is the Michael Flynn story was the second story on the DM site at that time. So they had a Flynn story they wanted to run high up, and a.. I dunno, photo expose thing they also wanted to run, and their editorial decision was the photo expose. Every other news site I checked, including BBC and Al-Jazeera, didn't seem to find revealing photos of the royal bride-to-be to be as important. – Todd Wilcox Dec 4 '17 at 14:48
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Yes.  Bring it up to management. Perhaps a petition signed by all the employees you can get would help. Newspapers that have opinions and information that disagree with your views should not be present at the workplace.

All sarcasm aside.

Ban a book, triple its readership. No good can come of bringing it up to management. The person is not bringing in anything obscene, illegal, or offensive, unless things have changed that much in recent years that newspapers are now considered offensive.

Before making an issue out of this, think of what this may do to your reputation. Being named as a complainer tends to work against you. You'll become known as the person that got a newspaper banned if you're successful, which, if news got out and it went viral could embarrass both you and the company.

Ignore it, move on.

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    @ToddWilcox We have a be nice rule here. please pay attention to it. – Retired Codger Dec 4 '17 at 0:29
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    @TheSnarkNight Of course. I didn't actually intend my comment to be mean and I'm sorry. I'm not really sure what was mean about it (it's now deleted but I remember what was in it). Anyway, I am deeply concerned by the idea of not speaking out because one might get a reputation for being someone who speaks out. That is the kind of thinking that discourages reporting of crimes like rape and sexual assault, as well as torts like sexual harassment. The asker's situation is possibly a hostile work environment, which at least in the US does legally constitute sexual harassment. – Todd Wilcox Dec 4 '17 at 14:54
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    Also, there's a fine line between being sarcastic and being sardonic. Which is relevant because being sardonic is, by definition, not nice, so you might re-read your own answer carefully in light of the be nice policy. – Todd Wilcox Dec 4 '17 at 14:59
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    @ToddWilcox since this was a question about a newspaper, I posted an answer about a newspaper. Conflating being labeled as someone causing trouble over a mainstream newspaper with reporting illegal behavior is not helpful. – Retired Codger Dec 4 '17 at 15:30
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    I'm not sure whether the type of publication is relevant, only its content. If a workplace had copies of Playboy or Hustler lying around, that could absolutely constitute a hostile work environment. Obviously that's a rather extreme example, but to me the Daily Mail website is extremely sexist and offensive. Since I'm not bothered by nudity per se, I'd say the Daily Mail web site is just as bad as the Playboy web site. Is the print version similar? I have no way of knowing, but I'd be surprised if it weren't. – Todd Wilcox Dec 4 '17 at 17:49
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If you really have to mention something, don't complain.

"hey boss, who controls the reading material provided in the break room?"

If he asks why simply say:

"I thought maybe I could request something I find really interesting. It has great topics that are safe for a work environment and could also help people relax with a rough day".

This is not confrontational, and provides you the information you need while subtly acknowledging there is something maybe not work appropriate that is being provided.

Once you talk to who ever choses, provide your suggestion!

Hey, I really want to read TMZ! They are a tabloid that covers many interesting topics, but have a very high fact check rating where they are even being sourced by large media outlets. would it be possible to put in a request for this? I know a few other employees would enjoy them too! I was also curious, I noticed that this month, we started getting issues of DM. I know they don't have the best of reputations and was wondering why we would take the risk of possibly upsetting a client if they saw it laying around?

Ultimately though, it's just something you need to deal with. At my job, they provide TV's along the walls of the break room on one of our floors. These channels cannot be changed and usually have news on. The channels they usually have on are ones I do not agree with as every time I walk by, there is a blatant lie for a headline posted and being discussed.

I don't complain about it, nor do I make it a big deal. People can put on whatever they want. I have made the choice to instead eat at my desk or eat in a different break room. While the news may not be a hate-filled source compared to what you are talking about, it's not something worth making a fuss over. I am 1 employee of hundreds here with a constant flow of new recruits every day. The risk is not worth finding a new job for.

Many companies secretly or publicly take political stances. For example, Chika-fil-a is a well known conservative company. By the same token, Starbucks is fairly progressive in their stances. My company sent out an email to everyone during election time to ask people to vote a certain way with local bills. They didn't take a political stance, but rather explained how it would affect our company if it passes or not and then asked people to vote for it in the way that benefits the company. Of course, people are still entitled to do their own thing but every company has a different way of going about politics.

It is possible that you are working for a company that shares different political values than you and the majority of the employees may actually enjoy the DM (despite whatever blatant crud is thrown in there). It is important to look up the company as a whole before accepting a job, to view everything they represent. Politics, activism, community service, global impact (if it is that large), and decide if those practices and beliefs match your own.

Maybe this was picked by 1 person who thought they could pick whatever they want since they are on the committee and wanted to annoy people, maybe it was picked by the brass, maybe it was picked based on the political views of the company/employees as a whole. If at the end of all this, you realize that the company is not right for you, then it is a learning experience to proceed next time in finding out everything you can about them before accepting.

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    @Pharap it seemed unusual as I have never had a job do it either in the past. They didn't TELL people how to vote which is where I think makes the distinct difference. They merely stated, "if this bill gets passed it does X for our company, if it gets denied it will do X for our company. Here are some facts and links provided both for the argument and against it. Please try to keep pros and cons in mind when casting your vote (or something like that)." Yea I suppose thinking back on it, they were implying that we should vote a certain way but it was done tactfully and nonconfrontational IMO. – ggiaquin16 Nov 30 '17 at 23:19
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    Perhaps they also got away with it because it's a bill rather than a particular party. The distinction between local and national politics sometimes blurs things. – Pharap Nov 30 '17 at 23:22
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    @Pharap yes, it was definitely on a local prop and not a national thing or to vote for a certain politician. Still it was weird even if I shared the same values as the company prior to the mail, I found it slightly off-putting that they were wanting us to vote based on company interest instead of personal interest. I understand a company wants to protect their interests and expect employees to want to as well (cause you know we need a job) but I do hope next time we have a vote that they try not to influence people. – ggiaquin16 Nov 30 '17 at 23:27
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    @ggiaquin, "According to the accounting department's analysis, if this bill is passed it will put this branch office in the red unless we triple our revenue. Layoffs would unfortunately be extremely likely." Would you find such an email objectionable (assuming it were factual)? I wouldn't. – Wildcard Dec 1 '17 at 3:28
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    @Wildcard yes, whispers would suggest that many found the email to be unfavorable. As you say, something like this would be hard to write. I can't imagine how many hours the legal team probably spent reviewing it. Not a job I would like. Cheers for a civilized talk! rare to have these days... even on SE. – ggiaquin16 Dec 1 '17 at 16:30
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I am really surprised that an obvious answer is missing.

Ask your colleagues how they feel about the issue.

Bring it up during lunch and communicate in a culturally appropiate way that offering this newspaper at the workplace disturbs you. Let the other people talk about it and listen (!). Also avoid to give the impression that you are accurately reflecting the feelings for a minority if you are not a member of the minority, it is kind of dishonest and a member of a minority can speak much more convincing if it is a something that hurts them personally.

If a sizable chunk of other colleagues are also concerned, you can address the issue with much more backing. Simply ask management if you could get a replacement.

If on the other hand the strong majority is passive or actively opposed ("I really like the Daily Mail and I asked that they order it"), suck it up. There are many things many people do not like and the probability that some colleague finds something offensive, is near 100%. There are really so many things with possible conflict potential (politics, religion, customs) that trying to push own agendas on the workplace almost always backfires or has unintended side effects.

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    Challenge to ask without alerting DM fans that you are “one of THOSE people.” – WGroleau Nov 30 '17 at 14:12
  • @WGroleau Challenge to believe one thing, while pretending to believe something different. – employee-X Nov 30 '17 at 16:06
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    The flip side of this is that if you are in a minority group that has been denigrated and offensively targeted with hate propaganda by the newspaper in question, then you do have a leg to stand on about getting it removed—I would hope you agree. – Wildcard Dec 1 '17 at 3:30
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    @Wildcard In this case I would refer to Acccumulation's answer: Get a big red marker, find hate propaganda, mark the offending article and march straight to HR. – Thorsten S. Dec 1 '17 at 22:26
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    @ThorstenS., you have just described more than ten percent of the inhabitants of USA. To some, Obama is God, Trump is Satan, and Trump supporters are demons, albeit stupid ones. And for others, just swap the two names. On occasion, I’ve ventured to suggest that both are human beings, only to incur the wrath of someone for being “obviously” in the opposing camp. – WGroleau Dec 2 '17 at 2:07
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Since you believe this is a committee deciding which newspapers to buy and display, have you seen if there is a forum or a place where you can bring ideas up?

Normally such committees would meet once a month to decide on what they plan on doing for future events. When the next such meeting is happening, make sure you can attend and raise your objections. In the end though, you'll have to deal with how the committee/people present at the meeting vote/choose. If they decide they want that newspaper by a majority, there is little that you can do. I would then suggest you follow Masked Man's advice and just not read it.

I would not recommend bringing this up with management, as they shouldn't be using their authority to say what this committee does or does not do (Unless it's causing a bad image for the company).

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My suggestion is to simply start reading it.

See, I had a bit of time on my hands a while back, and I read website versions of UK newspapers, and rather than read only 1, I read several of them. And what I found was that I could read a single story presented differently from all of them - the left-wing Guardian would leave certain bits out, the right-wing Mail would highlight certain aspects, the pro-EU Times would offer a slightly varied account, the anti-EU Telegraph would highlight how house price investments would be affected. What you do start to see is the bias inherent in all of them, and that is a truly good thing (not the bias) but the opening of your eyes to how much propaganda they all inflict upon us.

Anyone who, say, reads only the Guardian will live in a little echo-chamber bubble and start to believe everything they put out, you'll find its not all true. Its all set up to tell you what to think. Anyone who only reads the Mail gets the same. The trick to fight back against this brainwashing is to read as many of them as you can with an open mind and the ability to critically think and analyse the stories. You'll soon get good at seeing how bad they all are.

As for getting it banned, its not a fake news rag, that's just nonsense spread by activists who love fighting their political enemies and would like to see nothing more than a solitary source of news that conforms to their views.

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. -- George Orwell

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    Probably the best advice on this whole topic. – DrMcCleod Dec 1 '17 at 11:56
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They buy the papers as a courtesy/perk. Unless you are somehow claiming that you are being forced to read the papers, I don't think you'll have much success getting them to change, unless you volunteer to become a member of the group that makes those decisions.

It's kind of like if your work offers free coffee, but you don't care for the quality of the coffee they offer. It's difficult to complain about something that they have no obligation to offer, is not mandatory for you to use or consume and is free of charge. The response you might get is "well, then don't read it."

I can understand why you might find it irritating, though. It can't hurt to inquire, I guess. Just don't be too aggressive or indignant when you inquire, or you'll likely trigger a defensive response, which won't get you what you are after, and will create conflict, to boot.

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    Free coffee isn’t going to create a hostile work environment. – Bradd Szonye Nov 28 '17 at 23:13
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    @BraddSzonye Neither is the daily wail, it is gutter press to be sure, and rather strident with it, but few people consider anything in it to be serious journalism as opposed to popularist rabble rousing. As to the coffee, some bugger put decaf in our coffee jar the other week, the engineering team were hostile to this notion. – Dan Mills Nov 28 '17 at 23:36
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    @BraddSzonye - Free bad coffee will. You obviously don't know any hard-core coffee drinkers. :D A trashy tabloid newspaper sitting on a table isn't going to create a hostile work environment, either. We are talking about a public newspaper, trashy as it is, not the monthly newsletter or recruiting pamphlets for a neo-nazi white supremacist organization – PoloHoleSet Nov 29 '17 at 14:23
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    @KonradRudolph "Stop Funding Hate" is itself an extremely controversial campaign that has been widely criticised as far-left and illiberal. The existence of a campaign proves nothing, any more than the occasional success of PETA proves that eating meat is not acceptable in the mainstream. PETA too have had some success in getting advertising pulled. So? – user44634 Nov 30 '17 at 13:32
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    @KonradRudolph you are making no sense. Of course it has a bearing. That's a silly thing to say. You keep repeating the same falsehood that in the UK people generally consider the Daily Mail to be beyond the pale so that it's mere presence creates a hostile working environment. This is simply untrue, only a tiny minority of people think that. I assume you repeat it because you believe it - I don't call you a liar - but you are wrong. – user44634 Nov 30 '17 at 14:14
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In my opinion, it is ridiculous to rant over a paper that some colleagues might or might not read in their coffee break, but what I find ridiculous others might not. This is a very subjective matter and I am no authority in ridiculousness.

Obviously, you don't find this ridiculous since you asked this question. If something would bother me enough to ask such a question or to put the effort to stop other people's enjoyable behavior that I find disturbing, I would quit in an attempt to stop them.

I just want to be sure that my message is very clear for everyone reading this answer. I am also not telling you that you should quit without the possibility to come back. Going even further, I am suggesting quitting as an attempt to stop the disturbing behavior of the company for their and your sake, thus it would not be avoiding the problem, but confronting it straightforward. For sure I would highly appreciate if I would be valued enough so that the company stops their disturbing behavior, which in this case it happens to be being a fan of the Daily Mail. If they don't, it is first their loss, but then also yours.

Below you have my original answer which perfectly conveys the exact same message in too few lines:

Actions speak louder than words. If it bothers you that much, QUIT!

If you're worth more than Daily Mail, they'll give it up!

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    Disclaimer for moderators: I personally have enough trust in the users of stackexchange to take responsible decisions about their financial status. Moreover, not suggesting leaving as an option for what the asker might find to be a hateful environment is, in my opinion, in no way helpful. In my opinion a stress-free environment trumps financial reasoning, since health trumps money any day. – Andrei Nov 28 '17 at 22:50
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    If you're delivering an ultimatum to your employer (or in any relationship), be prepared to be ignored. They may want you to leave, because It indicates that you're more invested in the issue at hand than the relationship with your employer. (And, if you're not telling them why you're leaving, that's more obviously self-defeating.) – employee-X Nov 30 '17 at 16:10
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    @employee-X, right. I worded my comment carefully. Ultimata are just a bad idea, period. But if you are factually considering quitting a job that you otherwise like and are valued at because some doofus brought a hate-inciting rag into the office—which truly does have a very toxic effect on your work environment—you should make that known to your employer. Most employers in such a case would apologize and make things right. – Wildcard Dec 1 '17 at 17:51
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    (I have several friends who have politely complained to various grocery store managers about a recent offensively bigoted magazine cover, and in each case had the manager agree completely and remove the magazines from the store rack and send them back. A bit different from complaining to your employer but still relevant I think.) – Wildcard Dec 1 '17 at 17:52
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    @employee-X It's impossible for you to extricate yourself from the content. I already said that I personally think that generally you shouldn't quit for a magazine, unless for some reason it's a big deal for you. And I am in no position to judge what's a big deal for whom. If your employer would do something that is a big deal to you, wouldn't you give them an ultimatum and be ready to leave? Let's say that he would tell you that your girlfriend is stupid every time he sees you – Andrei Dec 1 '17 at 17:53
6

As far as the newspaper being low quality, that justifies little more than a mild expression of disappointment. But mixed in with that issue are intimations that the paper is racist. That is more serious, but requires more than it having a "reputation". If an issue delivered to your office has a clearly racist article, then you should file an official complaint with HR, and if nothing is done, escalate to filing a complain with an appropriate government body.

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    The racist reputation of the Daily Mail is fairly well established in the UK. In fact, contrary to the majority of the answers here, it’s generally considered unfit for the workplace for their racist and sexist contents. – Konrad Rudolph Nov 30 '17 at 9:33
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    @KonradRudolph that's completely untrue. – user44634 Nov 30 '17 at 13:23
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    @KonradRudolph you are simply repeating the argumentum ad populum arguments of the OP. To which I repeat my advice: if the OP can find a racist article, they should file a complaint based on that. If all they have is "reputation", that's not enough. – Acccumulation Nov 30 '17 at 15:38
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    @Acccumulation Read my heated comment discussions with Ben elsewhere and you should see that the opposite is actually the case: I’ve repeatedly said that popularity/mainstreamness is insufficient to determine acceptability in the workplace (and by inference the opposite is the case as well). At any rate, I actually thought yours is a good answer, and upvoted it. – Konrad Rudolph Nov 30 '17 at 15:49
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    There's nothing like finding actual evidence and being able to circle it in print to make your point. Alternatively, there's nothing like looking for actual evidence and turning up empty-handed to make you question your opinion. I think this is the best answer because it will allow the OP to step outside of presenting his opinion and feelings and present facts. Or, if as Ben is suggesting, there are no facts, it will help Bob calm down some, too. – seizethecarp Nov 30 '17 at 19:59
5

The answers here suggest that most users of the site aren’t from the UK and don’t know the culture, or the Daily Mail.

In fact, at my current and previous workplaces in the UK, the Daily Mail would absolute be considered “not safe for work” due to their openly contemptuously racist and sexist contents. The employer would definitely not order it to the office, and while employees may of course bring it — and read it — doing so openly at work would most certainly be frowned upon (and result in a rebuke from either colleagues or a superior), the same way that looking at mildly “NSFW” content on the internet at work might.

— Forget racism for a second: How would people here feel if their employer had Playboy lying around at work? I don’t object to the magazine nearly as much as to the Daily Mail but I would feel distinctly uncomfortable (not just) on behalf of female employees. Workplace equality committees would have a field day. The same is true, and to a much larger extent, for the Daily Mail.

In addition, there’s a healthy culture of employee empowerment (read: complaining loudly!) in the UK: if employers don’t like something about the workplace, they are expected to complain (“offer feedback”). This ranges from the food in the canteen to the colour of the wallpaper1. It obviously extends to objectionable contents being displayed at work.

Of course if your employer (or somebody with their blessing) ordered it then there’s clearly a different culture at work: for one thing I strongly suspect that you don’t have a workplace equality group. I would still say that it doesn’t hurt to ask your coworkers how they feel about this. And not every complaint needs to be escalated to the top immediately — but you can make your objections known if you do so in a non-pushy way.

On the other hand, if you feel that your workplace environment largely approves of displaying Daily Mail material at work and you are genuinely unhappy about it then it seems that there isn’t a great “cultural fit” and unless you want to fight an uphill battle to change this, it might be time to look for different employment. — I want to emphasise that it would be silly to something so drastic over the Daily Mail. Doing it over a fundamental lack of cultural fit at the workplace, however, seems apt.


1 In fact, that category contains pretty much everything that’s mentioned dismissively in the highly upvoted answer by “Masked Man”.

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    The Daily Mail is the second-highest selling newspaper in Britain. The highest-selling paper is The Sun. Each of them outsells The Times by a factor of 3 and The Guardian by a factor of ten. These are definitively the mainstream. You don't have to like the mainstream culture of your country, you should still recognise that it is what it is, and suggesting it is "not safe for work" is just silly. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – user44634 Nov 30 '17 at 11:05
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    I can't believe I have to actually explain this, but while reading newspapers in public is mainstream, it's not actually mainstream to have sex in public or watch pornography in public. Nor is it mainstream to defecate in public, should you be in any doubt about that. ... But if the question is "shall we have newspapers in the break room" the Daily Mail is literally going to be top of the list. ... Also, some people vote Tory! Shocking, I know! Who are these people? They aren't even ashamed! – user44634 Nov 30 '17 at 11:19
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    "The Daily Mail is generally regarded as un-conducive to such an inclusive environment." No, it isn't. ... Some people are making a big show of being offended by the Daily Mail, but it is simply not true that it is "generally regarded" as unconducive to an inclusive environment. I am sure you think it should be generally regarded as such, but it isn't. – user44634 Nov 30 '17 at 11:35
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    I have no idea who you have worked for but if you want to know what is "generally accepted" it's not hard to find out, you don't have to remain in the dark. Walk into the lobby of any multinational or major hotel. The Daily Mail will almost always be there, as in most pubs or bars. – user44634 Nov 30 '17 at 12:08
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    I don't see how the campaign making advertisers pull out of DM proves DM to be generally seen as unconducive to an inclusive environment. The campaign is obviously bad PR for the DM, so the DM becomes less attractive as a place for advertisements. I don't know the DM, but to me Bens argument "you can see it at every public space" is a lot more solid. – Philipp Nov 30 '17 at 13:06
3

I believe that you should raise this issue, but not because of any political motivation on the part of either you or the committee that made the change.

Obviously the change has made you uncomfortable. These are your feelings and you can't be denied them. Therefore to me this change is headed down the path of creating a hostile work environment by introducing uncomfortable elements into your workplace that are unnecessary for you to perform your duties. Thus to me this fits squarely with a raising the issue with HR. Let them know how you feel and how it affects you.

To frame your situation slightly differently in order to get past the political aspect, would HR or management have sanctioned this if the committee had started ordering "The Sun" with its page 3 girls? My gut feeling is that they would have shut that down before anyone could have complained about it (Well in IMHO should have.)

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    "These are your feelings and you can't be denied them." Feelings are not inherently legitimate or worth considering for everybody else. Yes, we can't deny you have them, but we can certainly deny that they are worth addressing. – fredsbend Nov 29 '17 at 19:07
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    I disagree. Some feelings are childish and contemptible and should just be dismissed. But this isn't a place for discussion, so I'll leave it at that. – fredsbend Nov 29 '17 at 19:41
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    @Statsanalyst So it just goes from Page 2 directly to Page 4 now? – Acccumulation Nov 30 '17 at 3:05
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    @PoloHoleSet I think the problem is simply that the given argument is shoddy. Pete M. talks about "feelings that cannot be denied" and "invalidating a person's feelings". The problem is that racists, bigots, crazies and religious fundamentalists have also feelings (and they are often very strong), so neither the mere presence of feelings nor their intensity has any argumentative value. Worse, e.g. a religious fundamentalist could argue that he finds women at work a toxic environment and demand that this feelings are addressed. fredsbend only pointed that out. – Thorsten S. Nov 30 '17 at 15:54
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    @polo Not the HR manager. The whiney employee complaining about reading material in the break room because she feels it's important. – fredsbend Nov 30 '17 at 16:24
1

Your complaints would be absolutely reasonable and you stated a good reason why it is reasonable that ordering this tabloid should be stopped in your company (and it its a good point for convincing the stakeholders in this case too):

Wikipedia considers it of such poor quality that it refuses to accept it as a source.

As is not wholly uncommon in such media, it has a sorry reputation for stirring up panics and hatred against minority groups. This has become severe enough that the pressure group "Stop Funding Hate" campaigns to have big-brand advertisers pull their adverts from the paper.

What I recommend you to do:

  1. Concerning your Management:
    • Convince Management that any connection to this tabloid creates bad reputation for the company
    • Your company for sure has a code of conduct or general principles that refer either to human rights, being open-minded, accepting different cultures and so on. Tell management that this tabloid (like any tabloid in UK) thwarts these values, any connection to this tabloid lets the company appear hypocritical.

  2. Concerning your colleagues:
    • Your colleagues need to know that this tabloid is intoxiating UK with its smear campaigns, racist insinuations and false reports. Tell them about the bad reputation of this paper and probably feel rejected by it.
    • Make colleagues aware that they are a signboard of your company too, their actions can have an effect on the companies reputation. Being seen with this tabloid (in the worst case with company cloths bearing the logo) implies that the company has a deteriorated culture.
    • Tell colleagues also that reading this papers makes them depraved too. Here one aspect which is proven scientifically: http://www.bbc.com/news/education-29885222
1

First of all from your question it is clear your beef with Daily Mail is political. There is a lot of bad trashy news, but your description of Daily Mail makes it clear you dislike it for it's political position.

Now my most important advice is this: WAIT. You sound upset. You do not want to discuss anything while you are upset. So wait for a week or so until you find you are no longer feeling upset.

Then decide if you care enough to ask/demand the change. This is up to you. But like I said from your question I get the feeling that people will not consider this as "favorite color" kind of thing and they will notice it is about politics. If you are willing to get into that territory fine, just do not be surprised if argument about journalistic integrity quickly turns into who voted for who.

0

Do I have to just accept it, or is it possible I can somehow push back against the decision?

If this is a publication that is allowed in public then it is in my opinion a free speech issue. If your national and local laws allow it then you should just not read it if you dont like it. You are not forced to read it and it is not a something like a pornographic magazine that would legally be considered offensive enough to limit free speech.

For example, I find the national enquirer offensive and other people find it entertaining. If my employer started allowing or even purchasing copies to be placed in the break room I would just let it go, no reason for me to stress about it.

EDIT: If I was an activist type of person, in my example I would push for local laws and regulations to consider poor journalism under the guise of entertainment to be offensive and may cause incitement to violence. Fix the problem at its source rather than focus on your employer.

Unless you can prove beyond a doubt that the presence of the publication negatively impacts the business or unless your employer asks for opinions I think its not really your place to complain.

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    “then it is in my opinion a free speech issue” — Why do people keep saying this? It’s simply not the case. Acceptance is not the same as active support. “Free speech” is about rights. Nobody’s rights are being curtailed by deselecting a magazine from the office supply (just as nobody’s rights are being curtailed by including it). – Konrad Rudolph Dec 1 '17 at 16:48
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    @KonradRudolph Freedom of speech as I define it is more than a right granted by government. It's a process that each of us must believe in and fight for. You cannot have free speech in a world where everyone wants to deplatform you, destroy you, discard you, or distort you for what you say. Freedom of speech only works to the extent that people embrace it. The "right" alone is meaningless -- T.J. Kirk so hopefully you see why banning some publications is nothing to do with rights, but still an assault on free speech. – gbjbaanb Dec 1 '17 at 17:36
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    @gbjbaanb No: I fully agree with that definition (in particular that it doesn't just concern the government) but that doesn't affect my stance. And stop putting words in my mouth, I do not support banning the publication. The question is not about banning a publication. – Konrad Rudolph Dec 1 '17 at 18:13
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    @KonradRudolph. The idea that an employee can state 'I find that offensive, it must not be allowed in the breakroom.' is 100% about free speech. I am not talking about acceptance by the company for allowing it. It is about allowing a person or persons to exclude written materials based on their own opinions. So in essence this question is exactly about banning a publication in a workplace. – Joe Dec 1 '17 at 20:59

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