Friday, June 09, 2017

What can we do to correct media bias?

The Maybot and Lynton Crosby are not the only losers in this general election.

Five billionaires - Murdoch, Rothermere, Desmond and the Barclay brothers - poured millions of words into the minds of the electorate through their newspapers, only to have their neo-liberal propaganda thrown back in their faces by a large section of the voting public. The BBC also showed a clear bias towards UKIP, with a similar lack of success. 

For every single leftish newspaper article read in this country, there are 3 written from a right wing viewpoint.  If the Press in this country had anything like a reasonable balance between right and left, we would be living in a more equal, happier country, and a world leader in human rights and sustainability.

It is time that we took action to correct the unacceptable press bias that distorts our politics. We have Leveson to work with, but it is an uphill struggle, because any attempt to change press legislation is viciously criticised by tabloids as an "attack on the freedom of the Press".

To avoid this, the best place to start, in policy terms is to require that any correction of error should be given equal prominence to the original erroneous article. In other words, you put up a false front page headline, you put up a front page headline correcting it. This will counteract the problem of tabloids printing a lie prominently, then correcting it weeks or months later on page 94. It will also make journalists check their accuracy far more thoroughly than they do at the moment. 

This will take time. While we wait, perhaps the place to start is in our local newsagents. If we see offensive headlines on the news stands, there is nothing to stop us from collecting up the stack of papers, taking it to the sales person, and asking them quietly but firmly to keep them under the counter. 

Maybot and Crosby will not like this. But their opinion does not matter as much today as it did last week.

[This was published as a letter in the Guardian]

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