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Are the UK media biased?

Written By: - Date published: 9:48 am, November 22nd, 2019 - 16 comments
Categories: boris johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Media, Politics, uk politics - Tags: , , ,

Originally posted on Nick Kelly’s blog

Accusations of media bias are nothing new. It is impossible to be totally objective, and to claim otherwise is simply misleading.

In a democracy, the role of the forth estate is critical. Media are one of the main ways people become informed about issues so they can make informed choices. Most people can see through editorial lines or declared bias. What is less excusable is when reporting deliberately misleads.

Image
                                                          From Page of the Sun in July 2019. Is there bias in the UK media?

Jeremy Corbyn used the Labour Party’s election campaign launch to attack the Rupert Murdoch claiming he was a “billionaire media baron, whose empire pumps out propaganda to support a rigged system.” Many claim Corbyn has not received a fair hearing in the British media. Academic research has been produced highlighting ways in which the UK media has misrepresented or shown a negative bias towards Corbyn’s leadership of the UK Labour Party. Though one explanation for this could be the number of Labour MPs who openly critise Mr Corbyn in the media.

General elections see heightened interest in politics. More than ever people turn to the media for information before they cast their ballot. So how are the UK media doing? It’s well known that UK newspapers have editorial lines. For example most people realise that the Sun is a right wing tabloid, and The Guardian is more liberal (small L). But are the UK media providing accurate coverage?

Much of the reporting of the election has focussed on polling. As mentioned in my first post about the UK election polls have been woefully inaccurate in the UK. Prior to the Brexit referendum in 2016, polls showed that Remain would win. In the 2017 election polls showed the Tories would increase their majority, when instead they lost it. In 2015 polls showed Labour and Conservative to be neck and neck – the Conservatives won a majority. In 2010 polls overstated the Liberal Democrats support by 10%. If we go even further back, in 1992 polls showed Labour would win that election, then on election day the Conservatives were returned to government.

Despite this, many in the media still seem to report on polling numbers as reliable and scientific. The polls may well be right this time, but given the history one should be dubious. Some polling companies continue to make the assumption that turnout for under 30s will be low, despite higher than usual youth turnout in 2017 and a large number of young people enrolling to vote after the election was called.

On Tuesday, the day the first leaders debate on ITV, two polls were released. The first was an online twitter poll where 30,000 people responded. This poll was not scientific.  The second was a You Gov poll, one of the UK’s most established polling companies. The twitter poll results were that 78% thought Jeremy Corbyn won compared with Boris Johnson who got 22%. The You Gov poll had Boris Johnson winning 51% of the vote, and Corbyn 49%. The second poll was widely reported, and used by commentators in their analysis. The next morning, it came out on twitter that the You Gov poll was released at 6:50pm – 70 minutes prior the debate starting.

poll

We can speculate as to what happened here and why. But needless to say, there are many who question whether the media coverage of this election has helped inform public debate.

Increasingly though, traditional media is no longer people’s main source of information. My next post will look at the role at social media is playing in the UK election and its contribution to media and society generally.

To support Momentum campaign for a Corbyn led Labour Government in the UK you can give your support here.

16 comments on “Are the UK media biased? ”

  1. Gosman 1

    Ummm…. the UK media is INCREDIBLY diverse. If you want different media view points or analysis there are plenty of options. On top of that the State funded media is meant to be the model that many people here would love to see NZ follow. What exactly is the problem?

  2. Sanctuary 2

    The title of this post has a wasted question mark.

  3. Gosman 4

    If you think Twitter is a good medium to gauge wider public opinion you are not as politically astute as you think you are.

    • weka 4.1

      you appear to have missed the point of that paragraph, and indeed the whole post.

      • Gosman 4.1.1

        No, I got it. It is just another moan from a leftist about negative poll results and supposed anti-leftist bias in the media which they think stops people voting for left wing political parties.

        • Stuart Munro. 4.1.1.1

          The subtleties, as ever, go over your head.

          When reportage centres on polling – horserace journalism – voting attention is shifted from issues and policies to team loyalty. This naturally reduces the natural disadvantage of the Right, whose policies are invariably unmitigated shite that will not bear rational examination.

        • Ed1 4.1.1.2

          I've just seen a published poll that says that on 25 December 2019 Gosman posted 3 unjustifiably negative comments about "the left", and 2 comments that were not on topic.

        • Dukeofurl 4.1.1.3

          Gosman did you check the front pages the day after the 2017 election when the Labour vote increased 9%…or did you find the partisan UK press just moved onto new targets

          Well here they are ..https://www.theguardian.com/politics/gallery/2017/jun/09/cor-blimey-general-election-uk-front-pages-in-pictures

          The Tory papers ignored Corbyn but tore into May

  4. Gabby 5

    Apparently a beebeebceeb exec claimed that questioning pollies' dishonest statements would undermine the public's faith in the lying scum.

  5. Siobhan 6

    Though, strangely, as certain folk round these parts will attest, the msm coverage of Assange and RUSSIA is entirely balanced, fair and accurate…go figure…

    Personally I find certain Lefty sorry, centrist political blogs in NZ seem to take their que from the biased msm..both UK and America.

    *****and just for laughs..here's the Guardians live coverage of the Democratic debate..they mention Bernie ONCE, (and thats just in IN THE FRICKEN LIST), plus once as a #…

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2019/nov/20/democratic-debate-2019-atlanta-georgia-latest-news-biden-warren-sanders-buttigieg

    • Phil 6.1

      they mention Bernie ONCE

      They mention Sanders plenty of times… you just didn't bother making the oh so difficult effort of clicking past page one (of seven) of the live blog history and seeing he's then all over the coverage.

      • Felix 6.1.1

        'All over the coverage'
        I dont want to go to too far down the rabbit hole of sermantics but..

        Biden is mentioned 55 (Not including headline or article #'s.
        Ok fair, hes the forerunner in most polls, it makes sense for converage to be around him, his performance is sure to be the most scrutinised

        Warren, 22 time.
        A bit of a drop off. Strange, shes almost neck and neck with Biden in the polls, shes a major player.

        Sanders13 times
        Hes shaped this primary with his radical left wing style in the last cycle, and is still preforming strongly in this cycle, surely there is some interest in him…

        Harris, 48 times
        Shes tailing all these candiates, and shes almost leading coverage.
        Sure, this is just one example, and sure, they still cover all candiates, but if you think there is no trend going on here, then hell, ive got a bridge to sell you!

  6. Incognito 7

    The first rule of traditional media is to sell.

    The way I see is that when traditional media lose the trust of the people as the main source of accurate and true information they could try to counter that by being more trustworthy and truthful or by being more sensationalist and extreme, i.e. through radicalising content and format. It seems they have chosen the second option.

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