Boris Johnson has come in cheering for George Osborne’s new job as Editor of The London Evening Standard.
Brilliant appointment for Evening Standard and good for London hooray!
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) March 17, 2017
But Twitter swiftly sent the former London Mayor home:
You wouldn't recognise a conflict of interest if it had a mop of white blond hair and called you Daddy
— anyabike (@anyabike) March 17, 2017
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.
How is that a brilliant appointment? What qualifies him to be editor of a daily paper? Help me understand the process!
— Phil Annets (@PhilAnnets) March 17, 2017
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.
– Stand up to corporate media bias. Play your part in the ongoing media revolution by reading and supporting the work of independent outlets which truly seek to hold the powerful to account. Please add more that you like in the comments:
The Canary, Media Diversified, Novara Media, Corporate Watch, Common Space, Media Lens, Bella Caledonia, Vox Political, Evolve Politics, Real Media, Reel News, STRIKE! magazine, The Bristol Cable, Manchester Mule, Salford Star, The Ferret.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?