The night before the crucial by-elections in Stoke-on-Trent Central and Copeland, BBC Newsnight ran a segment on Stoke. This triggered a significant backlash on social media from Labour supporters and people from Stoke. Both groups felt the segment misrepresented the town, its politics, and the issues at play in the election.
BBC Newsnight on Stoke
The night before Thursday’s by-election in Stoke Central, BBC Newsnight held a town hall-style debate. But viewers heard far more from assembled experts and politicians than they did from the audience.
#Newsnight Good to see Afua Hirsch lecturing and hectoring the people of Stoke what they really need. A BBC implanted 'local' voice.
— Paul B (@deeph2o1300) February 23, 2017
It concluded with this:
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) February 22, 2017
A pre-recorded segment on Stoke has also left viewers outraged. It featured the voices of locals complaining about people thinking their town is a ‘dump’. Meanwhile, the footage showed litter-strewn areas and mothballed factories. A man in the street was asked if he thinks UKIP are to the left of Labour, and he agreed. The viewers were left with the impression of a forgotten town, populated by uneducated people. People who would readily turn to UKIP.
The segment failed to include opposing voices, or footage of Stoke, that would have provided a more balanced view. And it sidestepped the calamitous campaign of UKIP leader Paul Nuttall. The UKIP candidate is under investigation for electoral fraud, and had to admit he lied about losing close friends in the Hillsborough disaster. Also, a UKIP member was filmed urinating on the house of a local widow during the campaign. If any party is in calamity in Stoke, it is UKIP.
Also #Newsnight ffs – the way you talk about Stoke – we are just missing the Hovis adverts music. So fecking bleak and patronising grrr
— Jo Phillips #GTTO (@joglasg) February 23, 2017
If you watched #Newsnight and you've not been to Stoke-on-Trent (Stoke is one of its towns – not the city) don't be put off. You'll like it
— Martin Tideswell (@MartinTideswell) February 22, 2017
— Dave Moreman (@davemomo) February 22, 2017
Not a good week for BBC Newsnight
This was the second night this week that BBC Newsnight has come under fire for misrepresentation. Just the night before, the show granted a platform for Dr Karol Sikora to argue for the privatisation of the NHS. As The Canary reported, Newsnight failed to mention that Sikora is a private healthcare lobbyist with a questionable history, based in the tax haven of Bermuda.
And this is nothing new. There is abundant evidence of the BBC failing to live up to its own editorial guidelines on election reporting, which stipulate impartiality and equal representation.
A major study by the Media Reform Coalition and Birkbeck, University of London last year analysed TV and online news over the “crucial 10 day period” that kicked off last summer’s Labour coup, and found:
clear and consistent bias in favour of critics of Jeremy Corbyn.
Even the BBC Trust found its own Chief Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg guilty of misrepresentation in January. But the BBC took no sanctions against Kuenssberg as a result.
And with former Murdoch journalist James Harding at the helm, it doesn’t appear that the BBC‘s news and politics coverage will be changing anytime soon.
Support the work of new media organisations. Please add more that you like in the comments.
The Canary, Media Diversified, Novara Media, Corporate Watch, Common Space, Media Lens, Another Angry Voice, Bella Caledonia, Vox Political, Evolve Politics, Real Media, Red Pepper, Reel News, ROAR, STRIKE! magazine, The Bristol Cable, Manchester Mule, Salford Star.
Featured image via Twitter
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.