Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why the Media Doesn't 'Get' Elections

Nich Starling, the LibDem leaning Norfolk Blogger, has written an excellent article on why the press don't seem to be able to understand elections. It's well worth a read. Here's an excerpt...

Perhaps the most hard done by party in this election was UKIP. BBC East should hang their heads in shame for doing a head to head debate amongst (as they called it) the four main candidates, excluding UKIP, despite UKIP polling far more votes across Norfolk in the Euro elections that the Green party. The fact that UKIP came in 4th place, well ahead of the Greens and not far behind the Lib Dems speaks volumes about the way the press sought to get the result they wanted and not the real result. The press had their mind set on a Green breakthrough despite the fact that the Greens had no real campaign at all. The only things the Greens actually did in the campaign was to launch a campaign pledge (which all the signatories broke), which the Lib Dems refused to sign simply because it was a meaningless pledge. But oh how the press loved this pledge. Why ? Because it allowed them to indulge their obsession with the Green Party.

It's not just the BBC though. Last week Rod Liddle made himself look like a prize tit by devoting a whole article in praise of the Green surge and breakthrough in Norwich North. Other newspapers too had fallen for this guff. I spoke to a Sky News producer yesterday at the count who was asking me how close the it was between the Greens and Labour. She was shocked when I told her the Greens were 5th. "Poor Rupert" the Sky News producer replied. "You've fallen for it too", I replied, and she had. The press had bought their own lie.

Witness early reports on Sky News yesterday which were effectively saying from the count that they expected a Tory majority of 2000 because of the impressive showing of UKIP and the Greens. I saw the BBC journalist listening and scribbling notes. I said to her, without giving anything away "Take what they are saying with a pinch of salt".

I was chatting to a Tory MP at the count yesterday and he told me that the press asked for a statement from him on something recently. He said the thing they were reporting was untrue, and he told them that in no uncertain words. He repeated that he knew it to be a lie, and the press' response was "We're reporting it anyway". So what is the point ?

It is little wonder that political blogs are now becoming preeminent when it comes to find out real political news. Not only do most political bloggers really understand politics, and by this I don't just mean policy, but I mean elections, campaigns and strategy. But they also know what is bullshit and what is genuine. Whilst people might resent Iain Dale's Tory bias, at least we know his political leanings and you can cut through the bits you don't like to get to the key elements of truth within what he writes.

I am no great fan of Guido Fawkes self congratulatory style and his obsession with being Guido rather than Paul Staines, but he does the sort of journalism that political journalists today simply cannot be bothered to do. No wonder they resent him so much. He puts so many of them to shame.

Similarly you may not like my bias, and I have been called an attack dog by some people whose views I don't greatly respect, but I think those reading this blog would have got a far greater insight in to what is happening in Norwich North than you ever would have from reading The Guardian or watching and listening to the BBC (or Sky), which is a shame as they are my TV channel and paper of choice. The other advantage of a blog is that you can send a comment to the blogger and get a response. Try doing this with the BBC. I wrote days ago about their debate and I have still not had a response...

Ultimately though the problem with the reporting of politics is that political journalists do not understand anything that happens outside of Westminster and the old style political "lobby" journalists don't understand elections.

Read the whole article HERE. While I am at it, let me congratulate Nich Starling for his coverage of the Norwich North by election. I know for a fact that he was a daily port of call for most activists involved in the campaign, and many journalists. Earlier in the year he went through a period when he considered giving up blogging. Like many others, I am glad he didn't.


Anonymous said...

May I thank Nich again here for being the best source of information on the election, keep blogging Nich you're doing a great job.

Anonymous said...

How very true.

A case to point was earlier today on BBC World with Ray Snoddy showing a very good piece by a senior citzen complaining as to the dearth of foreign news on the Beeb citing nil on South America,Canada West Africa et al.

The head of news for the `defence` as always completely disagreed !!! In one comment stating they had increased their staff in Pakistan.
Just like the gvnmt they just dont get it.


Bill Quango MP said...

I like Norfolk Blogger at about the same rate as I loathe lib dems in general. He is a very good blogger.

Nich Starling said...

Thanks Iain.

Anonymous said...


YOu are absolutely right. It is a great article and he is also on the nail with his analysis.

Chris Lovell said...

Well said Iain. I checked Nichs blog almost everyday to keep up with the campaign. It was much better than the mainstream media and he was much more honest about the point of view that he was coming from compared to the mainstream media too.

Anonymous said...

Labour were doomed to defeat from the outset!

LD were a joke despite ramping that anyone would believe!

The Green prospect was never real and i thought the media ramping ill-advised as they are after the council not the seat in parliament at this time! The greens would be better chasing Norwich south for what it is worth to them!

Cloe was most likely to win and the progressive agenda she stood on obvioulsy was accepted in Norwich North!

So NN has an attractive youthful advocate that will be hard to beat come the next General Election! Good stuff Cloe - Long it may continue!

Barking Spider said...

Rod Liddle IS a prize tit!

Unknown said...

'Rod Liddle Made himself look a prize tit'

Not his most difficult task of the day I shouldn't imagine

Osama the Nazarene said...

Excellent recommendation and I did like his Twitter feed on the progress of the count.

Would have to add his blog as my number 6 (but still don't have 10 so can't vote).

I do find myself looking less and less at timesonline (my preferred choice of political news and comment).

Unknown said...

So the question is Iain what are the Tories going to do about the leftie bias at the BBC?

Radio 4 and Radio 5 were just s quilty of underplaying UKIP and the Tory win. Beofre the result the BBC were parroting the line that only a massive swing to the Tories would be a good result. When they got that the line from the BBC was "Ian Gibson was a great man an Labour supporters stayed at home"

Peter Allen on Radio 5 was a disgrace when interviewing Chloe Smith he attached her straight off about "Tory defence cuts" and how every Tory he interviews claims their department is ring fenced. Of course that is an utter lie and Allen couldn't back that claim up if he tried.

The BBC are crapping themselves. Whilst Cameeon might be a wet fish over the BBC, there are plenty within the Tory party I think that are looking to settle old scores with the BBC.

I hope it happens. Break up the BBC replace the TV tax with a subscription based service and simply allow some tax payers money to be used for public service TV.

TomTom said...

Why doesn't the BBC shrink its bloated NCA Politics section. It has too much dross. Sky too should find a hard news agenda instead of tabloid TV.

The simple truth is that what they call 'News' is Propaganda...and as the old adage goes, what they try to suppress is what we would call 'News'

It is simple manipulation and is so blatant as to be fatuous

Joe Public said...

Thanks for bringing the Blog to a wider audience.

It should be mandatory reading for all BBC 'political' reporters, particularly, BBC 'Local' political reporters.

Anonymous said...

Cameron is very timid on two areas- i) strict capping on immigration reducing to an exceptional few hundred, including students in the capping number.. ii) Converting BBC into a sunbscription only channel. Given the economic situation - £130+ licence fee is a lot of money, he will get the mass support by removing the bundling of BBC with other terrestrial channel, so that one can "opt in " if BBC is needed. BBC bias, its wastage of resources, BBC fat cats etc.. will be a plus to include in the manifesto. I can't understand why he is so timid on both the above.

Vedette said...

It must be realised that the BBC is nothing more than a propaganda machine, bending the knee to its Whitehall paymasters. It has been like this for years, remember the Countryside Alliane March? 250,000 people in Hyde Park. The flagship news programme 'Today' broadcast not one jot or tittle about a universally reported (except the BBC) event

Anonymous said...

The "poor Rupert" line makes me really angry. Journos are meant to separate their personal opinions from their work. It's something as a lobbyist I do every day.