One week into the general election, new research shows that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is getting more “press exposure” than any other party. But there’s a huge issue with this. Because it isn’t positive coverage. In fact, the establishment press is pushing a strong anti-Labour stance, and backing the Conservatives all the way. Again. So even given its history, the gutter press just sunk even lower.
News isn’t good news
Academics from Loughborough University who are conducting a “real-time news audit” of this election have written an article in the Conversation. As they highlight, analysis of the first week of the 2019 election campaign shows Labour has received more coverage than any other party. But on the whole, negative headlines and attacks on Corbyn dominate coverage.
On 7 November, for example, one Daily Mail headline read ‘The vast majority of British Jews consider Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semite’: Jewish Chronicle delivers devastating attack on Labour leader warning he must NEVER be PM. And on 8 November, the Sun supported Ian Austin’s scathing attack on Corbyn with the headline I’ve given 40 years of my life to Labour, but EVERYONE should vote for Boris. Here’s why Corbyn is unfit for No10.
As the authors note:
If there is one predictable feature of British electioneering it is that most national newspapers titles will support the Conservative party.
“Sustained, personal attacks”
The research shows that, since 2015, Labour’s Ed Miliband and Corbyn have been “subjected to sustained, personal attacks from most of the highest-selling titles”. Examining 2019 coverage so far reveals a “large proportion of newspaper items” featuring “Labour sources had a clearly negative slant”. Meanwhile, stories featuring the Conservatives are positive:
Academics are monitoring press partisanship and press attacks on Labour during #GE2019.
The graph shows extent of negative slant in reporting that featured Labour sources.
— The Conversation (@ConversationUK) November 18, 2019
“Tellingly”, the findings show ex-Labour MP Austin got “three times more coverage than Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson”. In short, our press doesn’t sufficiently challenge Swinson, who propped up austerity in the Conservative-led Coalition government, but it has a lot of time for someone if they’re attacking Corbyn.
This also raises further issues about press accountability. Because Swinson has also refused to work with Corbyn. So she may not be getting much coverage but, as this study shows, quantity doesn’t mean support.
Who owns what?
As the Media Reform Coalition (MRC) highlighted in its Who Owns the UK Media in 2019? report, alarmingly few people own the UK press. Following up from analysis in 2015, it found that:
just three companies (News UK, Daily Mail Group and Reach) dominate 83% of the national newspaper market (up from 71% in 2015).
By the 2017 general election, traditional press circulation was half that in 1992. But as the MRC also noted, in 2019 online ownership is still in the hands of “just five companies (News UK, Daily Mail Group, Reach, Guardian and Telegraph)”. Together, they now “dominate nearly 80% of the market”.
This is significant. Because as the MRC also stressed:
Concentrated ownership creates conditions in which wealthy individuals and organisations can amass vast political and economic power and distort the media landscape to suit their interests.
With Boris Johnson’s litany of lies going largely unchallenged by the establishment media and Corbyn under constant attack, this ‘distortion’ seems out of control.
Just a week into the election, and it seems there’s not even any pretence of fair, accurate reporting. As Corbyn said himself to ITV news, the establishment media doesn’t ‘bother to report’ on Labour policy. And as he also stressed:
It’s your responsibility to make sure that the opposition voice is heard as well as the government’s voice.
"It’s your responsibility to make sure, that the opposition voice is heard."
Nobody at the BBC has the courage to report that's for sure.
BBC: Where Cowardice Reigns Supreme. #Newsnight #r4today #5live #BBCNews pic.twitter.com/abgc40ZxwY
— Colin Valley #CorbynOutrider (@MomentumCV) November 11, 2019
As the election moves forward, it’s unlikely to change. And this is an absolute travesty. Because this election is vital if we want to end nine years of Conservative-led austerity and devastation. So it’s up to all of us now to rise above the noise and bypass billionaire-owned establishment media platforms for good.
Featured image via Rwendland/Wikimedia
Do your bit for independent journalism
Did you know that less than 1.5% of our readers contribute financially to The Canary? Imagine what we could do if just a few more people joined our movement to achieve a shared vision of a free and fair society where we nurture people and planet.
We need you to help out, if you can.
When you give a monthly amount to fund our work, you are supporting truly independent journalism. We hold power to account and have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence the counterpoint to the mainstream.
You can count on us for rigorous journalism and fearless opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right wing mainstream media.
In return you get:
- Advert free reading experience
- Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
- 20% discount from our shop