Saturday, 19 March 2016

Continuing to keep tabs on 'The World Tonight'


Following on from last week's survey of the EU referendum coverage on Radio 4's The World Tonight, here's a review of this week's editions of the programme - following the same pattern.

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The Monday 14 March edition featured an interview with former U.S. assistant secretary of state under President Obama, P.J. Crowley. Mr Crowley discussed whether the U.S. president should intervene in the debate and put the administration's position: that they are happy with the current make-up of the European Union, especially given the current challenges arising from the migrant crisis. The status quo would help the EU "work through these issues":
From a U.S. standpoint, having fought two world wars in Europe in the last century it recognises the unique value that the European Union has in terms of collective security, collective leadership, and how that has - at least up until now - damped down the issues of nationalism that have embroiled the world - and the United States - in conflicts in the past.
I think that results in a...

Bias conclusion: Pro-Remain

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The Wednesday 16 March edition featured a report from Ritula Shah in Germany on the theme of "So how is the referendum being viewed among those Brits who live in other EU countries?" 

As I wrote about the Monday 29 February edition, which did much the same, "The choice of subject was highly favourable to the 'Remain' side, as it's one of their chosen themes - the threat to the ex-pat community of a Brexit".

Ritula talked to four British ex-pats living in Berlin about what's "worrying" them, and the words "worrying" and "worried" kept cropping up, It's "the uncertainty", said one.  They like the quality of life they're experiencing living there. and they fear they could lose it. One has taken out a second passport; another applied for a British passport. One said she feels "European" and likes the idea of not being tied to a single state. Another described an 'Out' vote as "foolhardy". Three of them aren't allowed to vote as they've been away from the UK for over 15 years. They feel "aggrieved" about that, as they can't "have their say" on something that's going to effect them "both personally and professionally". One, who have benefited from 'free movement' as an EU citizen, feels "disenfranchised". 

That adds up to a clear result:

Bias conclusion: Pro-Remain

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The Thursday 17 March edition was given over to an EU referendum special. 

Its angle was to compare perspectives on the referendum in Germany and the UK - focusing on the twinned towns of Freiburg and Guildford.

First, came Ritula Shah's report from Freiburg. 

We heard from members of Freiburg's Anglo-German Society: pro-English Germans and British ex-pats (again). As Ritula said, they are "overwhelmingly against the UK leaving the European Union". Three of them gave their "messages" to the British public asking us not to leave the EU.  

The issue next arose during a section on Freiburg's response to the migrant crisis. We heard briefly from a member of the AfD. Ritula introduced him as being from an "anti-immigrant party" with "links to the far-right". He said that every EU country should hold a referendum like the UK's. He was 'balanced' by someone introduced as a "historian" who said that Germany embraced the EU to "escape from their own identity" after the war. ("Europe is a way of acquiring a second identity which is less full of bad memories and the German identity.")

Then it was back to the Anglo-German Society and their calls for the UK to stay in the EU. 

Next came Carolyn Quinn's report from Guildford. 

We heard first from an economist who loves Guildford and described the place for listeners. He made a point about the UK continuing to do well if we left the EU, so I'm guessing he's pro-Leave. The owner of a technical research park said companies like his "universally feel we should remain in the EU". He was openly pro-Remain. A lady from a local civic society said although she's "always believed in Europe and the EU" but is now "sitting on the fence". She can't make up her mind, Another lady said we should "definitely leave", as did her Swedish friend. (They didn't give any reasons). A reporter on the local newspaper then gave his overview on how the debate has been going in the area. 

Next Carolyn discussed the issue with two sets of people who have links to Freiburg and are engaged it activities that show the value of that co-operation (points she kept making).

First she went to a local choral society, which sometimes performs with musicians from the German town. Three members of the choir gave their views on the issue. All were pro-EU and pro-Stay and made clear points in favour of the EU. 

Then she went to the twinning association and discussed the issue with two members who hold opposing views on the matter. The passionately pro-EU man made several extended, specific points in favour of 'Stay'. The anti-EU man didn't really make many points at all. 

Then it was back to Ritula Shah, now in Berlin for an extended joint interview with three Germans to consider "how Germans are viewing the ongoing debate in the UK and the possibility that the British may vote to leave"

The panel consisted of: Ralph Brinkhaus from the CDU, Hans-Olaf Henkel from (the British Conservative-aligned) Alliance for Progress and Renewal (ALFA) and Almut Möller of the European Council on Foreign Relations. 

All three of them want the UK to remain in the EU. 

(Though Mr Henkel was introduced as a "Eurosceptic", he's clearly a Eurosceptic in the same way that many pro-Remain UK Conservatives are Eurosceptics. He's in favour of reforming the EU and wants the UK to stay in the EU to help people like him change it from the inside.)

Because of the angling of the programme and because of its heavy dominance by pro-Remain voices, this edition of The World Tonight must also be judged... 

Bias conclusion: Pro-Remain

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This week's editions of The World Tonight have shown a particularly pronounced bias towards the 'Remain' side.

Since the referendum was declared then, I now make it 8 editions with a pro-Remain bias and 1 edition with a pro-Leave bias. (3 editions were considered 'impossible to call').

1 comment:

  1. All three are either directly or indirectly connected to Project Fear. This is a pattern within the pattern with BBC coverage of the referendum, I think.

    On the topic of The Obamessiah, have you seen this?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07470xw/inside-obamas-white-house-1-100-days

    Read the blurb. Three topics, each can be summed as, "It's not his fault, you see." And it's going to be a whole series finding excuses for Him.

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