Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Slanting the news



I always find it interesting to see how different media organisations angle a particular 'breaking news story'. The news today is that Andy Coulson has been found guilty while Rebekah Brooks has been cleared. 

The BBC is leading with news of the verdicts in the 'Hacking Trial'. They have two main headlines about it, heading the two main sections of their home page:
Andy Coulson guilty of phone hacking
Cameron apologises over Coulson 
The various minor headlines linking to related articles beneath run as follows:
Phone-hacking trial updates Live 
Cameron apologises over Coulson 
Cameron 'extremely sorry' 
Blunkett: 'I was near breakdown'
Media scrum outside court
Balls and Osborne on verdict 
Brooks cleared in hacking trial
Hacking charges and verdicts so far 
Note how the guilty verdict against Andy Coulson is very much the story for the BBC. The not guilty verdict against Rebekah Brooks is relegated to 7th place in their minor headlines.

Not so with ITV News which is running the story with the following two banner headlines, and placing Rebekah Brooks' not guilty verdict first:
Rebekah Brooks found not guilty of all hacking charges
PM's 'full and frank apology' for employing Andy Coulson
ITV's three main 'Live news stream' headlines also offer a balance:
Ex-No 10 spin doctor Andy Coulson guilty of phone hacking
Rebekah Brooks cleared of all charges in phone hacking trial
Cameron offers 'full and frank' apology for hiring Coulson
Sky News has four main headlines on the story and balances the two sides of the story:
Cameron Apology: 'I Was Wrong To Hire Coulson'
Hacking: Brooks Cleared But Coulson Guilty
Phone-Hacking Trial Verdicts: Live Updates
What Now For The 'Flame-Haired Empathiser'?
The Times places the good news first but conveys both sides of the story succinctly:
Hacking: Brooks cleared, Coulson guilty
The Guardian places it the other way round, but also gives both sides of the story their due:
Phone hacking: Andy Coulson guilty as Brooks walks free
By their slants do you know them. The BBC's slant seems by far the sharpest, doesn't it?

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P.S. From a comments at Biased BBC, it looks as if this particular slant is at play across the BBC:

John Anderson says:
World at One on Radio 4 devoting most of its time to the hacking trial verdicts. All the focus seems to be on Coulson – or rather – or rather, on David Cameron who is guilt of bad judgment but not of any criminality.
There is virtually no focus on the not guilty verdicts on all charges against Rebekah Brooks, her husband and her secretary. They have been prime BBC targets for years now, “guilty until found innocent” – but their innocence is now being swept under the carpet.
By contrast – Sky seems to be balancing both aspects of the verdicts delivered so far.

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