Addressing media bias

There are many accusations of bias in the broadcast media, and not without some justification.

Donald Trump drew attention to it by calling some journalism fake news and when he strong-armed journalists at news conferences. The BBC complained that Boris Johnson would not be interviewed by Andrew Neil prior to the Dec 2019 General Election and that Downing Street recently selected its own group of media to a Downing Street briefing.

The SNP used to accuse the BBC of bias although it toned down when it secured power at Holyrood. The Brexiteers said the BBC was anti-Brexit, and so on.

Balanced reporting and interviewing

Now the main stream media (MSM) complains that Boris Johnson does not engage with its interviewers and the subject of balanced reporting is back in the frame.

The broadcast media is required to be balanced in its reporting and its approach is to have comments from both sides in a debate and in an interview the interviewer seeks to put the opposite side in the debate to elicit a response.

However, many people complain that they are not given the time to explain their position and about the line of questioning by the interviewer, especially when it simply wastes time. This is where and why social media is flourishing.

The BBC could fill their ’empty’ political slots with other political voices who could bring another perspective to bear upon public debate. This would be more balanced and less biased. There is a danger that interviewers think that they are the only ones able to address ‘good’ questions to politicians. What about including more than national politicians and having local councillors held up to account in order to improve the quality of debate among them?

Balanced reporting

The idea of a balanced programme is not the only way to create balance. It can be done by protagonists articulating their own case in different programmes, with a reference to other programmes with opposing views, possibly at the end of each programme.

Douglas Carswell has recently articulated this manner to address ‘bias’ in the media. Social media and personal podcasts will continue to flourish and the BBC Brexitcast, now morphed into its Newscast will contribute to this change in media reporting.

Proper education used to teach students to address the strongest arguments of one’s opponents. It is no debate to deal with poor arguments, and even worse to ‘no platform’ unwelcome speakers.

Public debate is developing but we need Christian input to correct the gossipers’ lies and fake news.


6 Apr 2018: which media can we trust?

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