Bias in the Media

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We live in an age where bias is rife in the media. Many editors and journalists use their positions to influence readers. Facts take a back seat to controversy and prejudice. Headlines are used to hook readers. And profits are more important than the Media’s responsibilities to the public. The Media has always been made up of News Corporations. But it seems these Corporations are more than happy to divide society to make even more money.

The biggest publishers in the United Kingdom are all known to have various political biases. The Guardian, The Daily Mirror, and The Independent are all seen as notoriously left-leaning papers. Albeit, the Independent is considered amongst the most centrist papers in the UK. Meanwhile, the Telegraph, the Sun, the Daily Express and the Daily Mail are all seen as right-wing. When you know a paper’s political allegiances, you should take what you’re reading with a pinch of salt. Unfortunately, you won’t find a big, objective newspaper in this country. And that is a shame.

Election after election, these papers seek to sully their political opposite’s image. Take the 2017 election, for example: The Guardian portrayed Theresa May as a hater of animals, the disabled and the poor. Meanwhile, The Sun claimed Jeremy Corbyn was a Communist and a terrorist sympathizer, who also hated the Queen. Political biases would be somewhat more tolerable if these papers did more to promote their candidate’s policies, rather than simply sully their opponent’s image. The Guardian could have promoted Corbyn and given the public reasons to vote for him. And The Sun could have done the same with May. Instead, they dragged names through the dirt in an attempt to discourage voters.

When you think about it, it is scary that the press possesses such a power – especially when it comes to elections. Millions of people read The Sun and The Daily Mail on a daily basis, and that allows these papers to exercise tremendous political influence. In recent years, there has been a rise in right-wing populism in the UK. Now, this has also happened throughout Europe due to problems concerning the European Union. However, certain papers have slowly turned the British public against immigrants. The Daily Mail, The Daily Express, and The Sun are some of the main culprits guilty of this. These papers have used their influence to divide the British public. I am in no way ignoring genuine concerns regarding immigration. These are valid and must be debated. However, the public’s fears concerning immigration and the new globalized world (particularly that of the older generations) have been exploited by the Press. I expect this has sold many more papers. However, the prejudices of the Press have spoiled polite debate and caused bitter arguments between those for and against such issues.

There are a couple of solutions to these problems. Firstly, journalists could keep their prejudices out of their work. Their duty is to report the News; not twist it. If their opinions took a back seat to facts, then readers would have a better idea about certain issues. Secondly, opinion pieces could be kept out of the front pages. Don’t get me wrong; opinion pieces make for excellent reading. However, I question whether they should be allowed on the front pages of papers. If the headline stories are given in fact form, then the public would be more informed. This, in turn, could help the public’s understanding and encourage them to debate things in a far more mature and reasonable manner. If both The Guardian and The Sun were reporting the facts of a story and keeping their biases away from it, then their readers wouldn’t be reading different stories. Instead, they would be on the same page and more understanding of each other.

If the press reported the main stories objectively, opinion pieces wouldn’t necessarily disappear. They could still be in the papers, but in an opinion section; not on the front pages. Hence, we could still enjoy them, but they wouldn’t have as big an influence on the public.

Now, obviously, the BBC has long claimed a politically neutral stance. And over the years this reputation has been maintained. However, there are a few problems with the BBC. Firstly, it isn’t printed; this leaves newspaper readers stuck with a choice of biased, corporate-owned papers. Secondly, in recent years the BBC hasn’t always been politically neutral. Two glaring examples are the EU referendum and Jeremy Corbyn. During the build-up to the EU referendum, the BBC seemed to take a pro-remain stance, and this angered some of the public. During such an important time, the BBC was expected to uphold its neutrality but failed to do so. Concerning Corbyn, the BBC joined the majority of the British press and criticised Corbyn left, right and center. The BBC could have helped to portray an impartial view of Corbyn and informed the public of his intentions for the Labour Party. Yet, the BBC failed to do so. So much for political neutrality, eh.

Objective reporting could put an end to the abuse of power by news corporations. They wouldn’t have as much influence on elections, and hence the UK would be more democratic. Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that the majority of the Press would embrace objective reporting. Subjective reporting is far too profitable. I can’t imagine the Sun willingly ditching the controversial image that has made it so much money. Nevertheless, the BBC is a good example of how impartiality does have a place in the British press. If a print presence could be obtained, and objectivity remained consistent, then a politically neutral news outlet – one that keeps opinion pieces, political allegiances and prejudices off the front pages – could prosper.

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