Selling you a pup: The Guardian’s failure to restore confidence in the mainstream media

The Grenfell Tower fire has been a focus of controversy among critics of the mainstream media – but notice that this image from The Guardian doesn’t even feature the website that raised the political questions around the blaze: Vox Political [Composite: Bryan Mayes].

This wasn’t even a good try: The Guardian just tried to restore confidence in the mainstream media (MSM) with an article whose most trustworthy part was the result of a poll (and you know how This Writer feels about them) showing nobody trusts the MSM.

It states:

According to communications agency Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer survey of 1,500 Britons, the number of people who said they trusted British news outlets at all fell from an already low 36% in 2015 to a mere 24% by the beginning of 2017. The 2017 Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute, published in June, found that just 41% of British people agreed that the news media did a good job in helping them distinguish fact from fiction. The figure for social media was even lower: 18%.

Disingenuous, that. The figure for social media is low but rising; that for the MSM is low and falling. But the Graun won’t want you to know that, because it has a story to push (not tell; push):

Veteran media commentator Raymond Snoddy says: “What we’ve seen this year is that ‘mainstream media’ has changed from a general description into a term of abuse. We’ve seen trust in media ebb and flow over many years but there’s been nothing like this before. There is now a completely different way of self-manufacturing and distributing news outside of the mainstream. These new outlets can be very diverse and exciting, but they exist outside any conventional sense of journalistic principles – of fact-checking and at least trying to get it objectively right.”

That is simply untrue.

This Writer is a trained, qualified journalist. I work in the social media, I check my facts and I try to get them objectively right. I know there are others working in the social media with similar qualifications and aims.

Mr Snoddy’s comments are symptomatic of a mainstream media that is trying to fight back, and is happy to use underhand tactics to do so.

The claim that we are unqualified adds momentum to the claims of those who would try to discredit us. Look at the false claims of anti-Semitism that were levelled against This Writer after I investigated the allegations against Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker and found that they had been targeted by unscrupulous political operators who had their own reasons for doing so.

According to The Guardian, I suppose, that makes Vox Political one of the

new, conspiracy-minded outlets

of which it writes.

Rubbish. It makes us awake, aware and critical – something that The Guardian should have been, and should have been encouraging.

Look at Grenfell Tower – one of the focuses of the Guardian article. This Site was the first to single out the disaster at Grenfell as a political failure – and I was right, wasn’t I? Look at the furore that has gripped the country since it happened, over the reasons it happened.

Look at the senseless deaths of thousands upon thousands of sickness and disability benefit claimants who have been subjected to pointless reassessment after pointless assessment, creating stress beyond their bodies’ tolerance to withstand, by a heartless Conservative government that wanted them to die when its first duty was to care for them. I was the one who submitted the Freedom of Information request to the government and campaigned for years to force the Department for Work and Pensions to surrender the figures.

Those are just two examples of the social media getting facts right – from This Site alone. Hardly a “conspiracy-minded outlet”, then!

But the Graun has a story to push – that social media stories about MSM political bias are myths, and that the most popular social media sites can’t be trusted.

So the paper wheels out the claims that the BBC has a bias towards the Conservatives, and once again rubbishes the accusations against political editor Laura Kuennsberg. The trouble is, we know that the BBC is biased in favour of the Conservative Party. The Graun mentions Nick Robinson’s treatment at the hands of Scottish Nationalists, without pausing to admit that he might have deserved it. Oh, and the top BBC news executives mentioned in the story at the other end of that last link? All Conservatives. Theresa May’s current communications chief is Robbie Gibb, formerly the BBC’s head of operations at Westminster. He got the job after fellow BBC newshack James Landale withdrew from competition for it. And Ms Kuennsberg is a Tory, and was rightly criticised for being unable to keep her political preference out of the newsroom – so campaigners who called her out for it were attacked as sexist.

There is one decent point in the Graun piece: That far too few journalists in the mainstream media are carrying out a proper apprenticeship in local news reporting nowadays, and that the need to be self-financing these days means reporting – and commentating – now has very little ethnic diversity about it.

As Ian Katz, editor of the BBC’s Newsnight, admits,

“It’s plainly the case that shows like ours could benefit from a greater degree of diversity… not just ethnic diversity but of background, class and education. It’s a criticism that hurts because it’s got some truth to it.” Viewers need to see people on TV who look and sound like them if they’re going to be confident in what they hear. Katz describes an endless battle to ensure that Newsnight discussion panels are not solely composed of middle-aged white males. “If you were in here, you would see us with our heads in our hands looking at the guest list going, ‘This is ridiculous’.”

But I don’t see Mr Katz looking for guests from the social media! Apart from Kerry-Anne Mendoza, who attracts more criticism than praise from the Graun.

Admittedly, if This Writer was invited onto Newsnight, I’d be just another middle-aged white male. But there are many other good social media reporters. And, to be honest, they are starting to appear on mainstream TV.

Perhaps they would receive a more open welcome if the MSM as a whole would just stop trying to trash them.

The social media have the answer, you see, and I’ve already mentioned it.

The answer isn’t to try to convince people that the mainstream media are trustworthy and they should go back to sleep and let papers like the Graun tell them what to think, because that isn’t going to happen.

The answer is to do as This Writer advocated above – encourage more people to be awake, aware and critical. To think for themselves.

Then the MSM won’t be able to get away with attempts to sell us a pup like this Graun piece. If the price of lying is derision from the masses – and abandonment by them – then it will cease to be economically viable.

So wake up, people, and demand better. Or just abandon the MSM for social media sites like Vox Political, because we’ve already taken over as the reliable source of news and commentary.

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8 thoughts on “Selling you a pup: The Guardian’s failure to restore confidence in the mainstream media

  1. ivyemaye

    Yes, I go along with a lot of this. I live in Manila, Philippines now, being originally from the UK. The Guardian on line is my first port of call every day to check news.
    I have noticed changes. The new editor may have something to do with. There are some very good journalists and a good number of younger writers coining through.Some however, do seem weak. Yes too upper middle class, white. Too many assumptions as well. The Guardian seems to be some posh “Hello” magazine at times. Bull s*** articles on generation X and no real news.
    Plus some very bad leading statements. From memory, Aljazerra is anti Semitic. Plus some very lazy reporting on the Philippines…. a back ward country, no its not it is a middle income country. A dictatorship, no, it has one of the most robust democracies in the Asia Pacific region, yes there is Duterte. Oh the so called war on drugs is solely (pretty much) about crystal meths, and the centre for that is ion SW China (I have a lot of info on all of that)….I could go on.

    Really lazy reporting on the Brit Exit mess.

    I tend to triangulate if I have time. Take news from three different,sources and if possible, un related sources. This is true of anecdotal evidence.
    Yes your blog is very important, as part of this process. As for qualified journalists. No previous local experience plus a very narrow social back ground. there are some good ones though.

    OK Glenfell, that has fallen off the radar. Immigration, in 2004 the UK Sweden and Ireland allowed open immigration from Eastern Europe, the rest of the EU did not. Is that ever reported…no.
    Iran, what about the Iran Iraq war, who was behind that, the list goes on and on domestically and internationally.

    Keep up the good work and thanks

  2. Barry Davies

    This would be the same Graun that daily produces pro eu anti brexit pieces of journalistic licence which is essentially carrying on project fear lang after the result has been presented, as if they can’t accept that the vast majority of what they claimed prior to was just incorrect of deliberate misdirection. It is one of the major outlets of MSM that has come into the firing line of people not wanting to suspend disbelief.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      A very large number of news outlets are now coming out with stories about the harmful effect of Brexit. Do you have any actual evidence to contradict them or are you going to just keep parroting “Project Fear! Project Fear!” for the rest of your natural?

  3. Alan Share

    The biggest media myth – “British is best in world for …” Nonsense. Especially NHS where Insurance principle and competition get far better results. Don’t look at USA. Look at Switzerland, Holland, Germany, France &c

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Ha ha ha!
      The NHS is based on an insurance principle. We pay our taxes so we are insured for health care.

  4. wildthing666

    All MSM does is attack Corbyn, the unemployed, the sick, the disabled and anyone who stand up to them. You cannot go a week without one story about at least one of the previous being in their papers.

  5. Fibro confused

    I read this article last night it had been shared by Media Lens, shame you didn’t get a mention Mike but my theory on that is nothing you’ve written can be picked apart as biased fake news. I did laugh all the way through it, hammering the Canary for it’s heavily biased out put as if there isn’t one biased MSM Daily Hate and of course the S*n the worst offenders. Sqwawkbox got a piece repeated that was bandied round the press at the time as fake news conveniently yet again misreporting the real facts.

    The bit that really peed me of though was the bit about Grenfell not going to repeat it, but it ignored the facts yet again.

    News through social media is winning that’s all that matters.

  6. rotzeichen

    When I look back to the 1960s, I was never conscious of the whole media being so rabidly establishment, yes we knew who were the conservative papers and yes I have always understood the BBC bias against working people in favour of the establishment, the CBI for example would never be challenged over it’s decision as when profits were high and people sought to get a bite of the cherry, it was always explained away that profits lead to investment, the facts never bore this out though.

    In the 1950s and up to the 1970s investment in people ran in tandem to the creation of well paid jobs, during that period Harold Mamillan claimed working people had never had it so good, contrasting that period to today, we can see growth levels and wealth distribution were higher in favour of working people, since the 1970s and Neo-Liberalism has taken hold, that has all gone into reverse.

    In short from 1970 onwards Neo-Liberal politicians have deliberately transferred wealth and power back to a small rich elite, supported by a media who’s sole purpose is to sustain Neo-Liberal mythology. Fake News keeps the masses ignorant.

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