Thomas Carlyle's description of the media as a fourth estate "more important far than they all" is crucial to maintaining a democratic society, but the concentration of press ownership and reliance on advertising revenue in the UK media questions its desire and ability to be objective.

Matthew Wright, host of Channel 5's The Wright Stuff, aims to provide a platform for free speech and public discussion on his weekly television show.

"I spent 15 years on national newspapers," said Wright.

"What I have found is that, by and large, our national newspapers want to smother the truth and present you with a very partisan, biased angle – I didn't like working for newspapers for that very reason."

The nine editorial staff at The Wright Stuff read the newspapers before dawn each day, before choosing which topics to cover on the show through panel discussions and phone-ins from the public.

As host of the daytime programme, Wright questions the assertions made in the press, and encourages debate amongst his panel of guests and viewers at home, often playing devils advocate, aiming to balance out opinion and editorial objectivity.

"I very much like to think of myself as a champion of true free speech. I don't know what they are going to say – it is a genuine open conversation," said Wright.

"The interests of the people that own the newspapers are different from the interests of the people that read them, and therefore it is important that I come out and challenge the assertions that are made in newspapers."

Panel discussions on The Wright Stuff

The two-hour long programme prides itself on its open and versatile nature, with no pre-decided questions from the audience or set opinions from panelists.

"We are having the same kind of discussions [as Newsnight for example], where we don't have people from the establishment – we have members of the public getting involved where the conversations are just as interesting, just as illuminating, and they are also accessible to people," said Wright.

"Certainly on Channel 5, the pressures are different than they are on the BBC, because the BBC is publicly funded and it is in the hands of the politicians how much money it gets – the politicians are increasingly exerting influence over it.

"We, on Channel 5, are out of the mainstream glare – it is an area we can call our own and it gives us a freedom that maybe other news organisation don't get at the moment."

Additional images: The Wright Stuff, Channel 5

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