Boris Johnson has come in cheering for George Osborne’s new job as Editor of The London Evening Standard.
But Twitter swiftly sent the former London Mayor home:
Sarah Sands was the former Editor. She backed Zac Goldsmith’s racist London mayoral bid. Now, the BBC has appointed Sands as a new Editor for Radio 4′s flagship political programme, Today.
Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev owns the Standard, alongside The Independent. Research from Goldsmiths and the Media Reform Coalition has shone a light on the outlet. The newspaper had already become a “mouthpiece for the Conservative Party” after its biased coverage of the 2016 mayoral battle, the study found.
Learning more about the study may indicate what qualifies Osborne. During Goldsmith’s mayoral campaign, the newspaper published 13 out of the 15 official press releases near verbatim as articles. Justin Schlosberg, chair of the Media Reform Coalition, accused the Standard of being:
systematically biased in the way that headlines and news stories were framed, selected and prioritised
The report [pdf] notes that London’s regional news is “extremely concentrated”, with the 8 million population served only by the Evening Standard. Comparing the coverage of both candidates in the mayoral election, the study summarised [pdf]:
Overall, articles focusing on one or both candidates were almost twice as likely to favour Goldsmith
over Khan, and Khan attracted twice as many negative headlines
‘Dressed up as objective’
While the majority of articles were neutral, those that exhibited the strongest bias in favour of Goldsmith were the most “prominent”. The bias was most overtly found in ‘news’ rather than ‘opinion’ pieces, leading the study to conclude [pdf]:
We might also speculate that bias in news stories themselves may have greater impact than opinion editorials precisely because they are generally expected to be and often dressed up as objective in comparison
So perhaps the newspaper’s new appointment makes sense. Even if it’s surprising the organisation would be so blatant as to hire a high-profile sitting Conservative MP. Well, one can see why Boris would think it’s “brilliant” that a paper that systematically backed the Conservatives now has Osborne editing it. You could say it cuts out the middleman.
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