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Can press ever be truly unbiased?

By Charlie Knights

A recent study released a few weeks ago by YouGov, which examined seven European countries, concluded that the United Kingdom press has been seen as the most likely to be right wing.

YouGov’s investigation showed that when compared with Germany, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway, the United Kingdom is seen as the most right wing. This was after surveying members of the population of each of country about five key issues: health, crime, housing, the state of the economy, and immigration. Members of the British population left Britain as the most right wing in all categories apart from the economy, in which only Finland was voted higher.

29 per cent of all Britons voted that the media was too right wing on refugees and immigration, but that was the only category in which it was not considered to have ‘about the right balance’ as the majority answer. 32 per cent of Brits agreed that media had an equal balance on its approach to crime.

In terms of difference between who answered for left wing or right wing, then the British press is seen as rightwing on all five issues. Finland also showed a right wing bias, where as France, Germany, and Sweden have a perception of a more leftwing media.

It also went on to examine how accurately the media was thought to be representing certain groups within society. Namely, refugees/asylum seekers, ethnic minorities, immigrants, women, nurses, politicians, celebrities, and young people. 45 per cent of the public said that the reporting of celebrities and politicians was inaccurate, and over half of the responses from Britain stated that the reports on minorities and immigrants was either fairly or very inaccurate.

Previous analysis back in 2013 claimed to have found evidence for left wing bias at the BBC, saying that the BBC only qualified 10 per cent of left wing think tank experiments with evidence, either through health warnings, ideological position, or connection to a political figure. On the other hand it showed warnings for 25- 60 per cent of reports from right wing sources and think tanks, if it gave them any coverage at all.

So does a perception of media bias come from the change to representing both left and right wing sources? Or is it due to a more conservative shift over all in the media?

This becomes more prevalent, when Trinity mirror, the collaborative group behind the Daily Mirror, launched another daily newspaper on the 29th February aiming to be the first standalone national daily in over 30 years. The aim behind it seems to spin off this previous research, as it aims to have an “optimistic approach” as well as being politically neutral, in an aim to snare those that don’t usually read newspapers.

It also comes following Trinity reporting a £14.4 million fall in annual profit in what they describe as the “challenging” print market. They hope the paper to cost 50p within three weeks, and will aim to sell approximately 200,000 copies a day. Chief executive Simon Fox said the new title “fills a gap in the market for a daily newspaper designed to co-exist in a digital age”, and as such current plans say it will not have a website, something rare for a news source nowadays.

Media representation will always be seen as bias by someone though, it all depends on the reader’s perspective. There will be many people of every creed who think one thing or another about set issues, and may not think the media represents their views. Personally, I find that student media is often a good representation, as we have no ties to any particular organisation, and most of the rest of the press companies available give their view on the accounts. To what extent can the press have any kind of politically neutrality? They will always be guided in one way or another depending on their readership. Gair Rhydd itself won’t post things that aren’t relevant or interesting to students, and to some that could produce a certain political bias, and that might not necessarily be a bad thing.

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