During the campaigning for the EU Referendum, lots was said about the tactics that the were used by each side, with lots of accusations of lying and scaremongering tactics being used, and plenty of people bemoaning the lack of somewhere they could go to just read the ‘facts’ and make their own mind up.
The Referendum aside, as there really was little in the way of facts available for some of the subjects, it is important to realise that any source of news has its own political agenda, whether it openly acknowledges this or not. In looking at some example news sources, the BBC, the Daily Mail and the Guardian are ones that almost everyone is aware of.
The BBC is often seen as the most politically reliable or neutral source of news. This is because it is required by its own charter to be free of both political and commercial influence and answer only to its viewers and listeners. Indeed, this neutral stance often leads to the current Government accusing the BBC of bias in favour of the opposition and the opposition accusing the BBC of bias in favour of the current Government.
Still, it is worth bearing in mind that the BBC is the recipient of huge amounts of the money raised through TV License fees and so is likely to be negative towards any government that suggests reducing this.
The Daily Mail
The Daily Mail is one of the most read newspapers in the UK, being the first British paper to sell a million copies in a day. Currently, it is estimated to be read by approximately 3.95 million people a day.
The Daily Mail has supported the Conservatives in all of the last few General Elections, though in the 2015 it did encourage it’s readers to vote UKIP in certain constituencies where UKIP was the biggest challenger to the Labour Party. The Daily Mail regularly comes under fire for the stories it publishes, particularly the stances it takes which are often right wing in their stance, having drawn criticism for the 1993 headline “Abortion hope after ‘gay genes’ finding”, as well as a cartoon following the November 2015 Paris terror attacks. The Daily Mail has also drawn criticism from some doctors and scientists for it’s use of minor studies to generate scare stories.
The Guardian has a slightly more complex political history than the Daily Mail, having considered before each of the last few General Elections which party to support. A quick Wikipedia search suggests that The Guardian has supported the Labour leadership campaign of Tony Blair, and greeted the Labour election win very positively, before declaring its support for the Liberal Democrats in the 2010 General Election, largely on the basis of the party’s stance on electoral reform. For the 2015 General Election, it changed back to Labour, talking up the Labour Party’s stance on many topics including social justice and Britain’s place in Europe.
Although the newspaper has developed a reputation for being a platform for left wing and liberal views, leading to ‘Guardian reader’ being used, often as a negative stereotype, for people who have such views, the newspaper considers itself to be more centre-left, than left wing. In the run up to the Labour Leader election in 2015, The Guardian supported Yvette Cooper and was critical of Jeremy Corbyn.
There are many people who will like to say that you can tell a lot about a person by the newspaper they read, or where they go for their source of news, but this largely does little but support stereotypes. This post is not to suggest that all Daily Mail readers are of a certain mindset, just as much as it not to suggest that all Guardian readers are as well. It is simply to try and indicate that the media is pretty much biased one way or the other when it comes to any news story of a political topic and that you may wish to bear this in mind when looking for the latest news piece.
P.S – I only covered 3 sources of news here for fear of making the post too long, but if you want a quick snapshot of what political stance the newspaper(s) you read are, have quick look at the Wikipedia entry found here.