Saturday, 24 June 2017

Today Corbyn clip prompt to check alternative facts with BBC , Channel 4

On Today this morning another example of BBC narrative that Corbyn was to blame for the Remain defeat in referendum. Given as reason for the coup. I have done a quick upload to show the source.

See previous posts for my view that Corbyn contributed well during the referendum. The outstanding questions are around how the media options were allocated. Did Will Self decide to stick mostly to the Cameron approach? When Labour was asked to step forward as the polls wobbled, why was it mostly Gordon Brown? Did Corbyn know about Lord Darling sharing a platform with Osborne?

More specific for broadcasters and which someone knows the answer to so I am looking for support. One good thing about the election is that it is now established that clips from broadcasts can appear online in social media, either directly or through fans. The Conservatives edited a Laura Kuenssberg interview with Corbyn as if it was an attack ad. It could be seen in other ways if a news organisation should choose to show the priority for jobs.

Anyway the questions?

Would BBC support asking Channel 4 to make available the Corbyn appearance on Last Leg? The whole thing to show how he made a case? Not a catastrophist with project fear but building support based on employment rights and the environment.

Would Channel 4 support investigation of the two heckles reported by BBC including Newsnight? Much Twitter comment linking Portland Communications and the Lib Dems.

Apparently all is sweetness and light with the PLP but somehow the previous narrative continues. We can have alternative facts, memory plays strange tricks, but is it time to compare notes?

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Reuters report on UK trust in news since Brexit

Short post as I am almost on holiday. Lots happening around the start of EU negotiations but I am away next week so it may have to wait. the blog is about this all came to happen. The EU referendum and then the Brexit Election. Both stories to come back to.

But there is a definite news item, a report from Reuters Institute for Study of Journalism that includes a shift in trust dated from Brexit-

 Trust in the UK media took a significant
knock (-7 percentage points) in the wake of
a bruising and polarising Brexit campaign.
The role of the BBC came under particular
scrutiny, with the referendum taking place
when the corporation was seeking a new
charter. Remainers accused the BBC of
pursuing ‘unthinking balance’ and failing to
expose the exaggerations and distortions
of the Leave side. The right-wing press and
websites played a key role as cheerleaders
of the Leave campaign as well as attacking
the BBC for a perceived pro-EU bias. None
of this has enhanced the reputation of
mainstream journalism, at the same time
as the growth of social media (+6) exposed
people to alternative perspectives and
a more emotive form of news.

Nic Newman
Research Associate, Reuters Institute
for the Study of Journalism

Leaving aside the question of whether social media is actually more "emotive" than some newspapers we could mention ( another time ) this is a documented event, a shift in trust based on experience of reporting.

Maybe just my own view but I also noticed at the time a media bias on Corbyn. We are still told that he was "lacklustre" etc. so this is not over. Some genuinely believe this but there may also be an explanation why the Canary shows up in the report stats, not the New Statesman.

More posts later, there is a collection of paper building up. Seems that the Customs Union is the defining issue for Labour and the "FT Brexit" approach. Conservative leadership interesting for some but too confusing for the main narrative. I still see it as defined by newspapers with the "Express Brexit" most crucial if a leadership contest went to the membership or UKIP was reactivated.

Part of the confusion around the options in negotiation follows a lack of info during the election. Not much on offer from the candidates but journalists are allowed to ask a question, then comment if there is no answer. Depending how much damage turns up I guess the election journalism could do as much for trust in media as the referendum.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Reflection time to look back to Corbyn in referendum

Over a week since the election I still do not find much to convince me that the print journalists have changed all that much. Includes some broadcast aspects as well. In Guardian today John Harris considers changes in Corbyn reputation as reported and mentions " a vocal minority of online celebrants" who lack the nuances of the experienced print soforth. Thing is, can the online still be considered a minority outside the world of the columnists? Much could ebb and flow but a return to print as the main driver of election  opinion is pretty unlikely and this matters.

In the New Statesman Jason Cowley writes that " The armies of online Corbynites boast about slaying the beasts of the MSM (mainstream media) and abuse anyone who dares to remind them that Labour did not win the election." well , this blog considers that Fleet street is still an issue. In 2017 social media has started a base, that is all that is obvious. Still think print format could be a bit more polite.

Do these operations really intend to transform as online? They seem to have given up a bit, often just knocking Facebook and Google without explaining what they offer on their own sites. Maybe it is just the nature of a columnist to avoid a read/write medium. Guardian announcement on tabloid format had almost nothing about a web policy.

Anyway, back on topic, this may be a good time to ask some questions that may get an answer in the new spirit of open exchange and unity. It has sometimes been reported that "Benn was sacked in the middle of the night". What seems to have happened is that a report appeared in both the Observer and the Sunday Times that Benn intended to resign from the Shadow Cabinet and would encourage others to do so. There was a phone conversation with Corbyn. How could he continue given the printed reports? Later it was reported that Benn was not the source for the reports. So how do such things happen? Is it possible that someone from the Guardian or New Statesman could hazard a guess. Even the Observer or Sunday Times might reveal something in the new climate.

As mentioned in a recent post I am still interested in the two heckles of Corbyn reported on BBC TV news at the end of the referendum. They were intended to show that Corbyn was blamed by his own supporters. On Twitter it was widely stated that one was linked to Portland Communications and one to the Lib Dems. Neither claim has been considered by the BBC as far as I know. How do they decide which heckles to report? I do not know of others given the same amount of attention during 2016 or 2017 so far.

Jason Cowley, as linked above, also wrote about Corbyn that "He was a long-standing Eurosceptic, and so his leadership in the EU referendum campaign was lacklustre." This is just not true. So it is also misleading to write that he was "abused and traduced" as if this was in the distant past. Estimates are that 65 -70% of Labour voters voted for Remain.

The information I would like is about how the TV appearances were decided on. The official campaign with Will Straw seems to have been close to Cameron and HMG. Alan Johnson had some influence on the Labour Party office whatever the Leader was supposed to be doing. ( just my guess, no info to check this on). Corbyn was supposed to be aimed at youth. He was strong on Sky but shown late in the referendum. Was it his idea to go on the Last Leg ? Why did Channel 4 block him from using clips on his own YouTube channel ? He has been often criticised for only giving the EU 7 out of 10 but rarely is this shown in context.

During 2017 it seems well accepted that any TV clip is online, either from fans or the broadcasters directly. There should be more on Corbyn in the referendum so people can make up their own minds.

The main bit of the story that remains to be explained is what happened one late weekend as the polls turned out difficult and Cameron decided to make space for Labour. Who was involved in this discussion? Step forward Gordon Brown and Lord Darling to share a platform with George Osborne. Who would know how such things happen? Not that long ago.

I am not just raving on about the same things that never get a response or answer. The issues are still currant. Reading the FT there is some recent support for a cross party approach to Brexit. This might mean Labour support for something moderate. Corbyn would be involved but he was not so strong during the referendum. Lord Darling appeared to back a "punishment budget" from Osborne. Corbyn was seen as a bit of a spoilsport in pointing out that as Leader he had not agreed to Labour backing for such a situation. "Not exactly helpful" said Norman Smith on BBC News "They are supposed to be on the same side".

Over the next few months Corbyn may make a case for a jobs first Brexit. It remains to be seen what this means when in discussion with others. Those who prefer to get back as closely as possible to remain once seemed to be pushing alternatives to Labour but could now start on reporting what Corbyn has actually had to say.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Newspapers Still Matter - FT Brexit and Express Brexit

There has been a lot of comment about social media since the recent UK election. Aaron Bastani was on telly claiming that most people under 45 either do not read a newspaper or do not trust the info if they do. However the newspapers are mostly carrying on as normal. In the Times Clare Foges proposes to stop treating the young as political sages and sticks to the truth that there is no free lunch. On the Guardian Media page Afua Hirsch covers the perils of tweeting as in Trump. Social media and the election may turn up next week.

Meanwhile I am getting confused with the balanced statements from most politicians still trying to cover a range of options and not to upset anyone. I still tend to think that Labour has been more clear about a priority for jobs than has been reported. But in general the short phase after the elction when the claims were made for what it meant has been followed by ambiguity as far as I can tell from the politicians.

So I think that looking at the newspapers is the best way to understand the issues. Tipped off by the BBC Radio 4 press review I invested in  a weekend copy of the FT. This reported a meeting organised by business secretary Greg Clark. As reported "business leaders are hoping a weakened Teresa May will have to pay greater heed to their concerns........may lead to a softer Brexit". The editorial considers the benefits of a national unity government but doubts that Corbyn would "play ball".

Thing is, the Labour Party contains a wide range of views. There is a continuing conversation. If the voters who supported Brexit are going to modify their position they need other changes in policy. Suggest BBC and others allow some space for quite complex policy to be explained.

Anyway, back to newspapers. The Express is the most reliable for a UKIP style view. The Mail is hedged on a Sunday ( this week with Lord Mandelson split over two pages but quite clear in his view) and the Telegraph is careful to connect with most Conservatives, however they change over time. the Times is occasionally a soft version of the Sun. They are linked in when making a move. ( this is just a blog post, more detail when you buy the forthcoming book) .

Also by the way it matters what Rupert Murdoch thinks and he may see both newspapers together. What is the business model and how long will it last? Not off topic yet. It is undisputed that there was no outdoor poster advertising during the election. If the negotiations continue for two years the media landscape will change during that time.

Still think #FTBrexit and #ExpressBrexit will be useful tags.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Oxford Internet Institute / Telegraph , social media turns out to be voters not bots

More later when there is more info. Over the next few weeks there could be some research on ages of voters, what they read and soforth. Just now a note that the mentions for #Labour on social media seem to have mostly indicated a positive message. The numbers were based on genuine people, not manufactured by bots as suggested in the Telegraph.

I still cannot see how the Telegraph story was based on the Oxford research but I also think more could have been done to clarify the facts and the claims. I realise the research is based on large collections of stats, not on text analysis. But is the same sort of thing also ok for press mentions? Can impact be of any kind, however the research is represented?

Caroline Quinn on Corbyn and EU Referendum, BBC fact check please

This morning round about 5.30 on BBC Radio 4 Caroline Quinn repeated a remark that there could be a different situation if Jeremy Corbyn had campaigned during the 2016 referendum in a similar way to the 2017 election. My problem is that this sort of view just repeats the pattern of BBC misleading information on Corbyn. See previous posts for what I noted at the time. Stats vary as reported but something like 65-70 % of Labour voters voted remain. Compare 45% for Conservatives following presentations from Cameron.

I think it may be useful to compare both time phases and the soft coup or whatever you want to call it. The official / Labour end of remain was set up by Lord Mandelson and Alan Johnson. I am not sure how much influence Corbyn had in how the TV spots were arranged. The Observer reported one late weekend that because of the polls Cameron had decided to make space for Labour in the media schedule. Somehow this meant the return of Gordon Brown and Lord Darling to share a platform with George Osborne. They announced a really scary budget from which Corbyn distanced the official Labour Party as far and fast as he could. "Not exactly helpful" said Norman Smith, BBC political reporter based close to Cameron "They are supposed to be on the same side."

But why would Corbyn just slot in to the negative approach based on fear and catostrophe assertions by celebs from global finance? He was effective in his own style to the extent he was reported. He spoke at length to a younger audience on Sky. He appeared late night on Channel 4 but was unable to use the clip on his own YouTube channel. ( I have a screenshot somewhere but no time to find it just now)

Laura Kuenssberg did a TV doc also blaming Corbyn for the referendum result but not actually reporting who did the media appearances for this phase of the campaign.

As far as I know the BBC has only reported two heckles during 2016, both against Jeremy Corbyn intended to set up the blame story after the referendum. Through Twitter sources I think it very probably that one was from a person associated with Portland Communications and the other from a person associated with the Lib Dems. I myself saw a tweet congratulating them from a LibDem source. But I have never seen any sor tof BBC apology or reference to doubt.

If the BBC is now going to ask members of the PLP what they think about Corbyn now they could also have a good look at their own reporting so far.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Ian Dunt on Al Jazeera - UK journalism and the Brexit Election

I saw Ian Dunt on Al Jazeera this evening, talking about the lack of debate about Brexit during the election. His explanation is that most of the UK press supports Brexit so ask no difficult questions. Most of the broadcasters take their lead from the press.

I hope there will be a clip of this on YouTube or similar. I have found his Twitter feed, he was on BBC as well. Also a text with similar, more detail on economic consequences, mostly quite alarming, and then

None of this has been discussed during the election. It is not an elephant in the room. It is a stampede approaching at speed, to which we have stared, shrugged and continued with our little tea party. If historians do bother to assess what happened in this election they will be left aghast at our complacency. And they will condemn the vacuous proposals put forward by May and Corbyn in the strongest possible terms. We needed political giants. Instead, we got children.

Personally I can understand why Corbyn has been concentrating on other topics. When he did try to explain to Laura Kuenssberg that his priority was for jobs not limiting immigration there was no BBC reporting on the positive aspects of this. Conservatives were able to edit an attack ad without much change from the BBC approach. It was May who called it as a Brexit election, with support from the newspapers. Surely the main responsibility is with them?

Dunt on Al Jazeera said that journalists outside the UK are struck by the nature of UK reporting. Whatever happens in the election result some of this will feed back later.

Guardian reports social media response to tabloid attacks on Corbyn. They seem to me to be much less assured than during the referendum. Later in the year could be soon enough to look at the reputation of UK news sources online, that is both outside UK and inside on a scale to be determined. Social media will be some form of alternative.

No Telegraph report on latest Oxford Internet Institute research

I bought a print copy of the Daily Telegraph today but as expected could find no mention of the update on research into patterns of social media postings during the election. There is no take on whether posts are positive or negative but a trend towards Labour seems to be confirmed. There is a story that MI5 once opened a file about Jeremy Corbyn but I can only find a web link to a previous example of this "news".

Also there is no print report about the Board of Trade proposed by the Conservatives. Yesterday on Twitter there was comment about going back to a colonial committee from the seventeenth century. On the Today prog I thought Boris was so concerned to knock Corbyn that he allowed no time to mention the Board of Trade if that was his intention. The only item that comes close is a political sketch of Johnsons presentation from Patrick Kidd in the Times. Once the UK leaves the EU "we would become a great trading nation again and the East India Club would get a second billiard room".

As far as I know there has been no reporting on Liam Fox or "Empire 2.0" during the election. Maybe he has not said anything. See next post for more about the lack of discussion on Brexit during what was supposed to be a Brexit election.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

New Research from Oxford Internet Institute - #oii-Telegraph

There is an updated report that appears to show continued interest in the Labour Party.

The authors still seem to me to make too blunt a difference between "junk news" and "professional news" though they have more sense in proportion in assessing the role of robots.

A report in the Guardian includes reference to the possibility that increased search for Corbyn on Wikipedia relative to May may indicate future trends in voting.

Sorry this post is short, just off to hustings in Exeter organised by Express and Echo. More tomorrow.

Also I will be buying a copy of the print Daily Telegraph to check how this is reported. Cannot find it on the website at this time. There may be a way to spin it.

Expanded Tweet - Telegraph Oxford Internet Institute #oii_telegraph

This post is to get back on track with the issues. The tweets have got stuck on whether or not "big mouth jimmy" is a robot. I have had several tweets denying it and complaining that I ask the question. Then another one from Ben Nimmo with stats that make a case the account is "botlike".

However my most recent tweet, possibly not seen by Ben Nimmo, was in response to his retweet of a link from Phil Howard, agreeing that "Bots, fake accounts, and active campaigns of distortion and misinformation erode open participation and democratic discourse." ( btw Phil Howard is an Oxford prof, I don't know how his views fit with the Telegraph article but there is some link with Ben Nimmo at least as far as to check tweets )

The impression from the Telegraph story was that the apparent Labour support on social media could be explained by unfair robots, unusually active for Labour supporting views. I personally cannot find the support for this in the evidence published by the Oxford Internet Institute.

Ben Nimmo pinned tweet suggests balance as a test for fake news. Is it possible that young people are using social media and support Corbyn because they are fed up with newspapers and politics as usual. "distortion and misinformation" could be seen as an aspect of the EU referendum that has continued in reporting on Corbyn and during this election. This was not considered in the story as published.

Newspapers will have to coexist with social media. They have to offer some credibility for further communication. just my opinion.

Still on topic for the blog, the Telegraph story final paragraph (page 4 from front page story lists the Labour team for EU negotiations. They are all "staunch Remain supporters".

Monday, 5 June 2017

New Evidence on Jimmy as Robot, will it matter?

First the new development from my Twitter research. Ben Nimmo has posted some stats on posts by Big Mouth Jimmy which appear to be supporting the view that there may be a robot involved. Mostly retweets, over a thousand in one day. There is a link to an article about fake news suggesting that it is fake accounts that spread it.

Ben Nimmo is an expert source for a story in the Daily Telegraph last Friday headlined "Fake web accounts boosting Labour vote" . The story is also based on research by the Oxford Internet Institute.

Jimmy now has a pinned tweet to deny being a robot. Personally I believe this as the selection of tweets is so various. There may be more than one person involved but if it is a robot it is effective enough to convince me as a response to news from a Labour point of view. The main issue is the content, the topics in the election. One was a retweet about a Mail on Sunday poll from @faisalislam . Not "fake news" , just news that suits a certain audience.

Monica Kaminska , co-author of the Oxford research that apparently found 21,661 Labour supporting tweets from automated accounts, is quoted as saying "It is worrying...megaphoning marginal viewpoints...because young people are turning towards social media as their primary news source".  I have shortened this from the print version as I cannot get to the full version online. The research can be found at this page, with a link to a full PDF. I copy out this bit as a summary-

(1) Content about the Labour Party tended to dominate traffic on Twitter.
(2) Automated accounts generated a relatively small amount of content about UK politics

So this could just result in a story that Labour is well supported on social media and that bots are not much of a factor in this situation. Advertising budgets could be more of an influence in the general consequence, including edits of TV interviews.

There has been a tweet around this that mentions "the newspapers own interpretation" but without much explanation. Oxford University may be concerned how research is reported. There may be other comment.

Phil Howard ( @pnhoward ) has tweeted
" 1) @Telegraph #fakenews w/ our #fakenews research
   2) false "exclusive" claim

Meant mistakes exclusively theirs?"
This is a bit obscure. If there are mistakes could this be better explained in public?

My guess is that younger people will continue to get more news from social media. The EU referendum was a time when Brexit supporting newspapers seemed to some to be mostly concerned with opinion. This style has continued. More information will appear after the election on which groups actually voted.

Answering the question in the headline, I don't think it matters at all if Jimmy is a robot as long as the job gets done. Seems ok at the moment and I still think there is a person involved. Please check future posts. As a blogger I tend to repeat the same story though sometimes with an item of news.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Fake News, Daily Telegraph, Oxford Internet Institute, #ge2017

No tweet response to previous questions but I think I have found the source research doc.

Junk News and Bots during the 2017 UK General Election: What Are UK Voters Sharing Over Twitter? COMPROP DATA MEMO 2017.5 / 31 MAY 2017

For me this from the conclusion is the interesting bit-

Content about the Labour Party tended to feature prominently among the election traffic on Twitter. The level of automation was roughly equal across the Conservative Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and UKIP, however highly automated accounts tweeting about the Labour Party were more productive in spreading content. Overall though, automated accounts generate a relatively small amount, 12.3%, of the total content being shared about the UK election.

So how can this become a front page story in the Daily Telegraph headlined "Fake web accounts boosting Labour vote" ?

No direct link mentioned in the print version of the story. No Twitter connections to the source of the paper.

btw " Blogs and websites dedicated to citizen journalism," included under "other", after Professional News Outlets so I feel less excluded now. Sometimes the way that bloggers appear in newspapers / academic writing can be a cause for concern but anyway back on topic

Now located some Twitter connections

John D. Gallacher Oxford University @john_gallacher1 Monica Kaminska Oxford University @monica_kaminska Bence Kollanyi Oxford University @bencekollanyi Philip N. Howard Oxford University @pnhoward

So my question is, has the news so far reported the research accurately? should there be further comment?

This is the weekend so maybe not much can happen till Monday, but sometime before Thursday would seem appropriate.

Telegraph, Oxford Internet Institute, fact check please

Yesterday I tried a tweet to Oxford University. No reply. Today a bit more time on Google and I find "Political Bots" a project at the Oxford Internet Institute. Top two stories are that a) Labour is dominating the election conversation on Twitter b) one in four links shared is from a bot not "professionally produced news".

I still do not know the report on which the Telegraph front page story was based  ( No 50,397 Friday 2 June) in which it is claimed that Labour is boosted by fake social media accounts. This blog post is an extended tweet to ask for more info. Links please, refs for reports if they exist in print or academic formats.

Is it possible the two stories have become edited together somehow? There are bots and there are Labour supporters but no original source that the Labour support messages are from bots.

What is "professionally produced news" ? Is it just newspapers? are blogs included even if a bit hobbyist?

Any research on advertising? BBC news report on edited clips of Corbyn video promoted as adverts. Any info welcome.