Thursday, 28 April 2016

Sun WhatsApp Scandal claims continued

A bit more on the Sun and what is now clearly a story about a story not being on the front page.

The BBC is very good at being fair and balanced.

The Sun's two pages of coverage could fairly be described as accurate and respectful with pictures of all 96 victims and it also runs an editorial "unreservedly" apologising to the families of the Hillsborough victims, just as the paper did 12 years ago and again on its front page four years ago.
The editorial adds: "The supporters were not to blame. But the police smeared them with a pack of lies which in 1989 the Sun and other media swallowed whole."
The paper adds that it hopes the families go on to get more than their "first measure of justice".
An online apology on the paper's website is much longer and is said to be "heartfelt, profound, sincere and unambiguous" and adds that the 1989 report is "without doubt the blackest day in this newspaper's history".

However this difference between print and online is getting to where this blog may be heading. My guess is that online there is so much opinion that even newspaper journalists have to be a bit mainstream, at least recognise what other people are thinking. In print they may still think they can define what the news agenda is and every reader will not know anything different.

Even over the next couple of months for example there could be enough online comment, some from outside the UK, that the Fleet Street Brexit line will have modified. At least in the online version. Time will tell.

I may be jumping around a bit. Not ignoring the Hillsborough story but for the purpose of this blog the main observation is that the Sun story about Cameron and Whatsapp has not gone anywhere. For example not mentioned in Guardian report on Times front pages.

Radio 4 EU bias shock. source Sun

Bought another Sun today. Can't find an apology for front page yesterday. Times was on Sky News. Will look on Times later.

But page 2 reports the Institute of Economic Affairs has a study showing Brexit under represented on Today.

Should the BBC be obliged to repeat any Brexit story, even if it has limited news value, even if it has been on the front page of the Sun? Should David Davis expand on the scandal theme whatever the evidence for a scandal?

Maybe he did and I missed it. I am not going to keep up for much longer by checking out too much. But my guess is that the Sun has lost a bit of edge. Whatever the basis for reporting the Queen I don't think they will come up with another similar story that gets repeated.

When will IPSO report?

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Is Cameron on WhatsApp a genuine Sun story?

More on this tomorrow, just some notes as things turn up.

There is mention on Sky and BBC News on TV that the Times has apologised for not reporting Hillsborough on Page One in first editions. As far as I know no apology from the Sun.

For the purpose of this blog what interests me is why they think the story about Cameron and WhatsApp is interesting anyway. It seems to be based largely on opinion. the "scandal" headline is supported by a quote from David Davis MP "Attempts to avoid the Freedom of Information Act......will lead to scandal and embarassment."  The evidence is a source who said "There's a big group with them all in it for planning and sharing news links." This source is not named but could possibly be someone also close to government. Three ministers are named as WhatsApp users but what is proved by this.

Vote Leave CEO Matthew Elliott is quoted "Not only are David Cameron's taxpayer-funded spin doctors running the 'In' campaign, they have now been caught trying to hide their secrets from the public."

Well it is government policy to stay in the EU. Is this news? What do you expect Downing Street spin doctors to be doing?

If there are any secrets some clues would add to the substance of the story. If there was something similar "before the election last year" then what was it and why was it not reported at the time?

The Sun story has been credited and repeated in the Mail and Telegraph. Maybe more but these found online so far. Will any of this be on interest online for a global audience? Probably not but I will try to follow. The Sun story about the Queen and Brexit certainly was such a story. Still waiting for IPSO to take a view. My impression though is that the Sun will need to be more careful in their choice of news presentation. Even if other Fleet Street papers repeat their exclusives there is now a wider context.

Any feedback welcome, especially online views from outside the UK. Assuming this Brexit thing is still interesting.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Independent Continues Online - search finds Boris and IDS

I have not bought as many newspapers today. The blog is eventually about how things work out online.

Following some Twitter news I failed to find much substance but a Google search on Boris , racist, and IDS came up with the Independent as top result. So they should continue online only quite well.

On the topic it seems to be a possible problem for Brexit to discuss immigration without appearing to be linked to racist ideas. I think the general post imperial stance is also worrying and is not getting as much attention. What is the point of insulting a visiting head of state anyway, whatever angle you happen to choose?

Meanwhile another possible problem for Cameron is the London election. Again there are issues around how the issues are raised. For Toby Young on the Andrew Marr show "playing the racist card" has now become pointing out what others regard as normal. Will Cameron change tack after the local elections?

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Let Corbyn be Corbyn

More later on what Jeremy Corbyn has to say about the EU Referendum. For now I just notice it has not been much reported as such He has not got the same view as David Cameron but some comment seems to be along the lines of asking why he has not reached a wider audience with much the same case.

This is complicated I think because the BBC seem to be taking the agenda from Fleet Street and the government ( seen as both pro and anti EU ) . I don't think I am making this up. Peter Preston describes it like this with reference to the Today program .

For every Gove, there must be an Osborne. For every Dave, a Nigel or Boris. For every Obama, a Marine Le Pen. 

This seems about right. Andrew Marr earlier today raised the possibility that a future USA President would have a different view to Obama, mentioning Cruz and Trump. My guess is this is not as likely as some suggest. I don't expect anyone on the BBC to say that some Brexit views are just a bit strange or anything rude about newspapers. Marr also mentioned the possibility that the UK public would respond against the establishement and therefore turn to Brexit. There is no discussion about the ownership of the Telegraph, Mail, and Express.

Things seemed better a few weeks ago when Alistair Campbell was on Newsnight. See previous post. It was interesting that Trevor Cavanagh stated that the Sun view on Brexit would be decided by Rupert Murdoch. As far as I know he lives in New York. Do we welcome his views on the UK? Of course we do not yet know the final line the Sun will take. Sky seems to be working towards a situation in which movie rights can be negotiated one time for several parts of Europe. 

But more likely the only positive case for the EU will come from Corbyn. There is some reality to claims about "project fear" . Cameron will probably continue to warn of economic dangers and the Brexit warning will be about immigration. So the Today debate will be about who is most frightening.

My guess is that if the polls get close someone will decide it is time for Corbyn to speak directly on television. Chances of newspapers reporting him as he is are not very high.

Is the Mail backing Boris?

When I started this blog I thought the Fleet Street views would be fairly uniform. "Fleet Street" as in papers backing Brexit. But there are still a few weeks to go and there may be a shuffle. I am not sure about this, just noticing things that may be there to return to.

I am sure the Mail has a source for the way Boris is quoted on the front page, but it seems just a bit hard to maintain. "Boris Rage" then a description of President Obama as "wierd" and "ridiculous". Within the UK media some views can survive just through repetition in a closed world, but the President of the USA is reported in different media and is also able to make statements. The Brexit approach to discredit a source they don't like may not work out.

So it is interesting that the Mail on Sunday also asks the question "Has Obama Busted Boris?", article on page 29 by Andrew Gimson. Starting with the question why Boris got into a dispute about busts in the first place. "The answer is that as well as being a politician, he is a journalist and he needed to find an intro to his article which would grab the readers' attention." ( By the way I am not convinced by the claim that Boris was "short of time" but you can read the whole article online )

The bit I do want to quote is this

"For Boris has never set any store by the pedantic virtue of getting his facts right."

This may not be a surprise for Guardian readers like myself but it is a surprise to find this in the Mail on Sunday. It may be a sign of things to come. Will the whole of Fleet Street stay united? Only time will tell.

Whatever Happened to Harold MacMillan?

The headline is there to be returned to later in this post. Don't worry. We will get there.

Current news item is that discussion in UK newspapers continues around the facts about one or more busts of Churchill and their positioning inside the White House. Analysis from Toby Young in the Mail on Sunday (page6 today) includes supposed evidence that "our (UK) relationship with America hasn't been all that 'special' since Obama came to power." The evidence for this claim? "As he admitted one of his first acts as President was to remove from the Oval Office the bust of Churchill that Tony Blair had presented to George W. Bush". No mention in this "analysis" of what President Obama actually said during his press conference. Please look it up.

Actually, have a look at the newspapers and make up your own mind. I am getting to Harold MacMillan much quicker than I thought I would. You can guess the context.

What puzzles me is why Harold MacMillan is not apparently part of the Brexit discussion. I am not a big fan exactly. I do not have a statue in the back yard. But his experience is just a bit relevant. Looking at the history pages on the BBC website two things seem relevant.

Despite bearing some responsibility for the Suez debacle of 1956, Macmillan proved to be a beneficiary of the crisis, which forced the resignation of the prime minister, Anthony Eden in January 1957. Macmillan took his place.

Macmillan's second term was beset with crises. Britain's application for membership of the European Economic Community split the Conservative party, and was eventually vetoed by France.

Eventually though there was some sort of explanation of all this that Harold MacMillan could live with. As could quite a lot of voters as memory serves.

So why is he hardly ever mentioned?

The BBC web page is dated 2014 and is archive only, no updates. Fair enough for history and there are budget cutbacks of course. But I will continue to do a web search on Harold MacMillan and expect something may turn up.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Focus on the Guardian

This post will be revised as I am way behind again. Also I am not sure of what I am suggesting but there is enough to try it. The blog form is a draft most of the time. Please comment if you are getting a different impression.

Last week I thought that Jeremy Corbyn was reasonably reported on the BBC but not so much in print. He seemed to have gone though by the weekend and the BBC took the agenda from the papers.  "We all know what Jeremy Corbyn thinks" said Nick Watt on the Sunday Politics , to my mind as if this has already been decided in the media whatever he actually says.

Interesting that he put the whole event as video on Facebook and also made things clear in several tweets.

Notice this is consistent with what he already says, not a repackage of the Cameron view. So maybe he is not performing his role of reaching out to the young for the worried centre.

The Guardian today ( I am going to work backwards later) has an opinion from Matthew d'Ancona that claims "Though Jeremy Corbyn’s declaration in support of Britain’s membership of the EU was front-page news, David Miliband’s intervention last week was more significant as an exemplar of the urgency and impatience that has been missing from the remainers’ rhetoric." Two problems with that. I am not sure Corbyn was front page news in the first place. Secondly his rhetoric will only appear urgent if it is reported for what it is.

Meanwhile online Roy Greenslade is claiming that it is the press setting the agenda.
The undeniable fact is that the leave campaigners are setting the agenda with their noisy propaganda across the majority of the national press.
My guess is though that this agenda is only of much interest to Conservatives in Westminster and the journalists who mostly work for conservative titles. There may be a conversation about something else in social media. Quite possibly most Guardian opinion would rather write about David Miliband than Jeremy Corbyn so the option of writing about the Brexit journalism as if it was odd will not appeal.

FACT. Jeremy Corbyn opens accounts for Snapchat and Instagram. Guardian bottom of page 5.

You will know that the Remain case really is in trouble when Jeremy Corbyn is allowed on live television to state his case directly.   

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

note to come back to

This report is interesting on how and why Whittingdale has been reported. There is no mention of Europe as an issue. It still seems likley the IKPSO memebers will mostly be pro Brexit. So will Cameron remain supportive? Is it possible the BBC will be of value in making a case for the EU? Maybe more on this later.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

InFacts and the Cameron problem

Hugo Dixon has written about the troubles of David Cameron and the problem this poses for making the case for the UK to remain in the EU. My own guess is that Cameron is so weak in the case he is making that it won't make enough difference anyway. there is so much pressure inside the Conservative Party that he has moderated any sense of energy a while ago and has not yet adjusted, even if he wants to.

Also I have concluded that the pro leaving press are going to make things even worse for Cameron. they seem not to be bothered about the local elections, they may just want Cameron to be weaker. The Andrew Marr show today had comment from Ian Dale about ten minutes in. Marr suggested the Eurosceptic press have been more vicious than others in coverage of tax issues. The Mail on Sunday has written that Cameron's "greatest danger is that he and his affairs will become the central issue of politics, and the EU referendum will turn into a referendum on his personal future." A few months to go but it seems some are very concerned about the referendum and Cameron is not getting the support he might expect.

InFacts is online and might balance the effect of the newspapers. Their poll of polls suggests things are in balance now. This seems to me to be because the Eurosceptic press is very effective. The BBC is following the news agenda so the question around the HMG leaflet becomes whether it should be allowed rather than what it says. The issues are still coming frominside the Conservative Party but I don't think the media discussion reflects what is actually of interest to most people in the UK. Other parties do have views but they are not being reported.

It will be interesting to see how InFacts works as a site. It needs a lot of hits to balance the papers.