A Short Piece On UK Election Reporting
Over the past few years there has been a concerted effort among the more right leaning media in this country to portray Ed Milliband as a backstabber here and here Indecisive and dithering here someone hypocritical in their views because although a socialist his girlfriend at the time owned a house that had gone up in value here he looks like a animated plasticene character here mocked his accent here his face here described a set of normal pictures as “Comedy Moments” here complained his stag party wasn’t normal here
Honestly I could go on for ages and ages, page after page of vacuous crap where stories have been written on the most tenuous of rubbish here or a stream of stories that appear to be illustrated with the photo that has an odd expression here or here or filled with descriptions mocking his physical appearance here and that is before you get to unfairly attacking his relatives here or having their reporters gatecrash a relatives funeral here
Columnists have made careers of peddling streams of trash as serious insight here (you could spend whole days of amazement in that one alone) Re-fighting the Blair/Brown Conflict by proxy here or Just being plain insulting the intelligence of the readers. here
The pace of attacks truly accelerated after the Leveson Inquiry, the Press barons seeing an attack on press freedom, when in reality it was more an attack on their business model of reducing the news content in the paper and instead attracting consumers through a diet of bullying and snobbery against the poor and disabled. As the election campaign has got into gear the attacks have become even more dishonest A particularly spectacular example being the Times £1,000 Tax front page article, when called on it the response has been pitiful although in line with what the papers said they would do at the Leveson Inquiry. although maybe 20 pages too far back hereillustrating all the problems campaigners said existed in the placement of corrections in papers.
The election coverage has got so bad that even the Spectator has said
“Purely blaming the parties for this state of affairs is naive. Broadcast, online and social media now mean there are many more ways to get your message out that don’t involve being trailed by a load of people who do a very good impression of hating your guts. Ed Miliband could cure cancer tomorrow and half of the nation’s newspaper headlines would criticise him for putting nurses out of a job “
Once the votes have been tallied, that is not necessarily the end of the problem, the people may have decided, but the Newspapers and their proprietors appear to be preparing to have the final say. Victory may be declared by Bluff, in much the same way as TV stations declared Bush the winner in the 2000 election in the US. With the watchdogs of the press showing signs of bias, what hope do we have that we will get an unbiased result when coalition discussions are in progress? What if the press decides a fake legitimacy? can a social media ground game counter this effectively?
Newspapers are pushing the idea that a Miliband premiership would be a disaster, the bad reasons for them appear to be as he would push for full implementation of the Leveson rules for press regulation, he’d also keep the nasty European human rights rules including that pesky right of privacy that has been the key reason behind the newspapers human rights assault, yet another thing that interferes with their business model. Blame Miliband may be a good electoral strategy for the papers owners and the Tory party, but in the long term will it have a negative effect on the papers? Readership for most is in freefall. Exposure to Miliband on TV debates has just shown up glaringly how false the picture generated by the press over the past four years has been.
He’s not come across as a Shakespearean Richard the third figure, limping hunchbacked across the stage, but rather more as an ordinary person. Even the most jaded newspaper reader is going to say “hang on a minute, this isn’t the bloke we’ve been told about”
Worrying about new regulations may not be the papers problem, rather readers deserting them as they see that they are not able to trust the papers to actually tell them the truth. Something that you would think would be a basic requirement in providing a newspaper. the next six months readership figures will require careful watching to see how the papers readership handles this betrayal of trust. This may be especially true for the Sun, which has a readership that tends to lean further to the left than the company management would like, And the Times, which is wedded to the concept of being the newspaper of record. For them a departure from perceived honesty in reporting could be ruinous to their brand fo no long term gain.
How long before an editor looks back at the last four years coverage, and similarly to Gerald Kaufman after the Foot election manifesto declares the last four years coverage to be the “Longest suicide note in history”