Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘The Sun’

The Sun’s “Iconic Passport” Con-trick.

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 22nd December, 2017

0D80C254-AD73-484B-B5FB-0895D3509F6CThe Sun newspaper is trumpeting its “success” in getting Britain’s “iconic” blue passport back, after a long and at times hysterically nationalistic campaign. But the whole thing is a con-trick. The new, pale blue passport that will in principle come into use from October 2019 is nothing like the old one. It’s the wrong colour, the wrong size, the wrong texture and doesn’t have the little windows that the old British passports had. Although I haven’t seen the inside pages of the proposed new passport, I bet they will be different too. So, in a nutshell, the new passport has nothing whatsoever in common with the “iconic” old one, other than it is not the burgundy EU-UK passports that we have now. But in a post-Truth world, why would a pernicious rag like the Sun care about facts? Like the Daily Mail and the Daily Express — and the Daily Telegraph on a bad day — the Sun is just concerned with anti-EU propaganda, sometimes in the ugly forms of migrant-bashing and outright xenophobia. No other EU member state has such an irresponsible gutter Press like the UK’s, which is a major reason why the Brexiteers won — narrowly — in last year’s EU Referendum. That’s why it is so important to expose their lies, as well as to campaign to keep our burgundy passports, with all the European citizenship rights that they represent.

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UK Press Coverage of the EU Referendum

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 21st September, 2016

eu-referendum-uk-pressBritish newspapers are notoriously partisan, which is a polite way of saying politically biased. But do they actually influence the way people think and vote, or rather do readers gravitate to titles that reflect their own opinions? It has often been argued that the latter is the case, which might suggest that the bias does not really matter, yet when so much of the UK Press argued for Brexit, I couldn’t help wondering if that contributed significantly to the narrow vote to leave the EU. So I was pleased to be able to attend a seminar last night at Europe House, headquarters of the European Commission and European Parliament London representation, to listen to a panel discussing the findings of a report on UK Press coverage of the EU Referendum, published by the Reuters Institute for the study of Journalism in association with PRIME Research. The study, which looked at the Tuesday and Saturday editions of nine leading newspapers, found that 41% of the articles that focused on the referendum were pro-Leave whereas only 27% were pro-Remain. When the readership reach of the different newspapers was factored in, the imbalance was even more marked, as 48% were then identified as pro-Leave and only 22% pro-Remain. The study noted that Europe was not a particularly important issue for voters until 2010 and only became so after it was linked to immigration. The referendum campaign itself coincided with a decline in David Cameron’s popularity and the Remain campaign appeared unable or unwilling to articulate a positive vision for Britain’s EU membership instead focusing on the risks of Brexit. The Leave side then cleverly exploited what it dubbed Project Fear. The Remainers concentrated almost entirely on economic arguments whereas the Leavers gave more weight to matters such as sovereignty and migration. Neither side could claim to have told the unblemished truth, though the most egregious lie was the £350 million a week claim the Leave campaign could be saved by no longer paying in to the EU budget, instead spending the money on the embattled NHS. The Daily Express maintained a barrage of anti-EU migrant stories, though the reach and therefore impact of the Sun, the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph was more significant. The pro-Remain newspapers were essentially the Daily Mirror, the Guardian and the Financial Times, though interestingly polling results later showed that a significant number of Daily Mirror readers voted to Leave, underlining the social/economic class dimension to the vote.

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Have the Media Lost All Sense of News Values?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 10th November, 2009

Sun Brown letterGiven all that there is going on in the world at the moment, it is astonishing and depressing that the British media — including the BBC — have gone totally over the top on the story of Gordon Brown’s handwritten note to Jacqui Janes, the mother of one of Britain’s latest Afghanistan casualties. Let us remind ourselves that the reason this is ‘a story’ is because the Sun newspaper, that most reptilian of organs, has tried to smear Mr Brown by concentrating on his bad handwriting, spelling mistakes etc, while trying to spin that the Prime Minister has insulted the bereaved parent, though I have no doubt that he (having lost one child himself) was being sincere. The Sun, of course, recently announced that it was switching from supporting Labour to the Conservative in its editorial policy, but this whole episode is a shoddy way to underline that point. What is even more disgraceful, though, is that the BBC, in particular, should allow its agenda to be set by a highly partisan piece in the Sun, therefore itself putting Gordon Brown in the pillory. There have been repeated, extended TV news items on the story over the past day or so. Rightly, this evening, the BBC report did acknowledged that the Corporation had received an unprecendented number of emails protesting that the Prime Minister was being treated unfairly on this issue. It would have been interesting for viewers also to have been told how many emails arrived saying that the BBC seemed to have lost its sense of news values, along with most of the rest of the British media.

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Europe Gets Centre-stage with London LibDems

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 15th November, 2008

jf-with-sl-and-dinti-battone

The European elections may still be a little over six months away, but they were very much the main focus of attention at the Liberal Democrats’ London Regional conference in Camden today. In the morning there was a session at which both the sitting MEP Sarah Ludford and myself (as No. 2 on the LibDem list) made presentations, as did Victoria Marsom and Chris Leaman from the party’s campaign department. I focussed on policy issues for next year’s campaign, highlighting the environment, the economy and security/civil liberties. The core message was that the party can indeed win two seats for London next time — as, frankly, it should have done in 2004 — while at the same time, local parties can use the Euro-elections to help them realise their Westminster parliamentary and borough council ambitions.

In the afternoon, Chris Huhne MP made a speech on putting Europe across on the doorstep. The LibDems are a party campaigning for reform of the EU to make it work better, but starting from the premise that European cooperation is a good thing and that many of the major challenges of our age need to be tackled regionally, if not globally. Dinti Batstone (No. 3 on the London list) gave an excellent and motivating presentation on targeting EU voters in 2009 — in other words, citizens of other EU member states who are resident in London and therefore should be encouraged to vote here. Simon Hughes MP, the outgoing party president, underlined the importance of European and international issues and the party’s commitment to them.

At different times during the day, both Sarah Ludford and I were able to slip out to talk to the annual LGBT Conference organised by the University and College Union (UCU), conveniently being held just three tube-stops away. Sarah was able to report on the excellent work that she and some of her colleagues in the European Parliament have been doing, such as putting pressure on the Labour government not to deport LGBT asylum seekers to countries where they might be executed or suffer persecution; extending civil partnership recognition EU-wide; and ending the US ban on inward travel/immigration by people living with HIV/AIDS. My brief was to cover the role of the British Press on related issues. Whereas there has been a welcome shift in the approach of some tabloids (notably The Sun, following Sir Elton John’s and David Furnish’s civil partnership and Pater Tatchell’s confronting Robert Mugabe) there is still a lot of subcutaneous homophobia amongst journalists on newspapers such as the Daily Mail and the News of the World, which erupts to the surface from time to time.

Links: www.libdems4london.org.uk and www.ucu.org.uk

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