Media Bias? – the continuing debate

 

My mate Steve keeps up with the news. He is in fact an avid devourer of print media. Yet when I mentioned this week’s report from the Media Reform Coalition he seemed not to know about it.

Funny that. I wouldn’t be surprised if most people were similarly in the dark.

The Media Reform Coalition says this about its work:

“Britain has one of the most concentrated media environments in the world, with 3 companies in control of 71% of national newspaper circulation and 5 companies in command of 81% of local newspaper titles.

The hacking scandal and its aftermath demonstrated how that power has been used nationally, whilst at local level community after community is losing the means to publicly hold power to account.

Urgent reform is needed to reclaim the media in the interest of the public.”

 

The report in question was an analysis by Dr Julia Schlosberg and Laura Parker of the coverage of Labour’s “Anti-Semitism” Crisis. The conclusions were quite damning, especially for the Guardian and the BBC. Among its findings were the following:

“Overall, we found 95 clear cut examples of misleading or inaccurate reporting on mainstream television and online news platforms, with a quarter of the total sample containing at least one such example. The problem was especially pronounced on television – which reaches far wider audiences by comparison – where two thirds of the news segments on television contained at least one reporting error or substantive distortion.”

It seems that mainstream media often give very little regard to conventional journalistic standards and conventions. Including the following:

  • “Several reports focused on a controversial social media post by Jeremy Corbyn omitted any mention that it was made six years ago, with some emphasising a sense of currency and recency that failed to make clear the historical context of the post.
  • Journalists covering the launch of Labour’s antisemitism report in 2016 routinely misquoted an activist in ways that were entirely removed from his original comment, in spite of a video recording of the event that was readily and immediately accessible.
  • Above all, coverage of Labour’s revised code of conduct during the summer of 2018 often entirely omitted critical discussion of the ‘working definition’ of antisemitism put forward by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), and wrongly characterized it as consensual and universally adopted.”

As if to underline this media rearrangement and manipulation of the truth it would seem that the MSM are even reluctant to report these findings, as reported by Media Lens. Media Lens state:

“Our searches using the ProQuest newspaper database reveal that there has not been a single news article or editorial published about the report. This is a remarkable symptom of the glaring tendency of the media to reject, or simply blank, reasoned, well-researched criticism”

Indeed the only newspaper mention of the report to date comes in a letter in the Guardian co-signed by, among others, Noam Chomsky, Brian Eno and Yanis Varoufakis.

Finally, the authors of the MRC report have this to say about the lack of response from media outlets cited in report:

‘Neither the Guardian nor the BBC have acknowledged or even directly responded to the myriad reporting failures highlighted in our research. It is completely inadequate to offer blanket dismissals or simply kick into the long grass of their respective complaints procedures.’

and also..

‘The failure to answer to these allegations is even more serious than the reporting failures themselves.’

There is something very wrong indeed with our corporate media. Thankfully the next Labour government will have some serious and much needed proposals to democratise the media in the interests of fairness and, ultimately, of the people.

 

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