Back in 2014, I was often asked why I focused on identifying bias in what BBC Scotland was reporting and not on what they were not reporting. I understood the concern but pointed out that identifying bias in actual reports can be quite objective if done scientifically but trying to draw attention to bias in deciding not to report something was inevitably more subjective. A news agency can always say that they didn’t report on something because they missed it, had too little time or resources for it or that it seemed less important than the stories they did report. Only when a story is collectively viewed as very important, covered widely by other agencies and then ignored by the one being researched, is it possible to make a strong case for bias by omission.
Recently, I’ve noted four good examples to show that it can be seen:
- Boris Johnson’s tax cuts for the well-off: When Tory leadership candidate, Boris Johnson made his offer yesterday to raise the threshold for the higher rate of tax in England, Wales and N Ireland and to pay for it with Employee National Insurance contributions, collected from across the UK including from Scottish employees, he presented the SNP with an open goal and the Scotsman and the Herald reported the injustice. Though regularly fed pro-Union messages by these two newspapers, Reporting Scotland ignored the story this time.
- Energy bills used to subsidise submarines: This stunning report actually appeared on the BBC UK website and was picked up by the Scottish press but once more ignored by Reporting Scotland. Based on a report from an academic suggesting that ‘the government is willing to burden householders with the expense of nuclear energy because it underpins the supply chain and skills base for firms such as Rolls Royce and Babcock that work on nuclear submarines’, the story was another gift to the SNP though they too failed to run with it.
- Carers in Scotland get more support: This report from the Scottish Government telling us that carers in Scotland were to receive £452 per year more than their equivalents in the rest of the UK was ignored by all of the Scottish MSM including by Reporting Scotland despite being posted prominently on the Scottish Government website, familiar to all journalists.
- Britain’s Number 1 Teacher Education Faculty is in Scotland: Though St Andrews University hitting second place in the overall Guardian rankings got some attention, BBC Scotland ignored it an went for the giant fatberg in the town’s sewers instead. None seemed to see or care about the fact that the University of the West of Scotland’s School of Education in Ayr had come out at the very top of its category in a stunning result.
I’ve said many times before that no conspiracy is required to produce this kind of bias. Years of conditioning in an education system and in first media jobs, produces journalists who just know what to do to satisfy those above them in the news agency they work for. It comes naturally.
Your final paragraph illustrates exactly what the issue is. It reminds me of the Noan Chomsky interview by Andrew Marr. If I recall the exact exchange, Marr said he didn’t think he was self-censoring, and Chomsky’s reply was, “Of course you don’t think that, but if you weren’t, you wouldn’t have the job you have”.
YouTube is on line with the full interview and although quite old now, it is still relevant today (perhaps even more so).
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I’m flattered. I remember the clip well. Did my PhD on his work.
So much of this morning’s GMS was devoted to the Tory leadership contest and much of that to ‘The one we are all waiting for’ (Said by the Westminster correspondent – and Nicholas Soames lookalike – David Porter) Boris Johnson. We were told that a SECOND Scottish Tory MP had decided to back Mr Johnson.
THIS is what the staff believe is important – because it is important to them.
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My feeling is that we’re in danger of becoming too kind in our judgement here.
We are being bombarded daily by the output of a state funded, professionally organised and ruthless propaganda machine which follows a set and clear agenda.. All the tools are in use, including omission, distortion, nuancing and outright lying. Little, if anything, is left to chance in the pursuit of producing what amounts to a herd of uniformly obedient, harmless creatures, thinking and doing only what we are told.
I, for one, am heartily sick of it.
Maybe we’re patronising them? Not that kind?
Apologies, John, if they’re needed – and, yes, I wouldn’t pay to see them either. 🙂
William I like your accurate description of the workings of HMS BBC Scotland berthed at Zpacific Quay.
I’d add that they are continually working on their propaganda reports. Yesterday it was reported thst Esther McVey said she respected Soveriegnty. . . Next report she respected Devolution, goes on throught tge day till the polished article is ready for tge peak audience broadcast between 5pm and 6pm
Not only are people in my age group going to have to pay for our T.V licence from next June, no chance, but I have yet to see any up to date figures for the amount of money the B.B.C spends in Scotland, in relation to what it collects.
The latest figures I could find was from 2017 when it collected some £323m, but spent only £224m. Apparently this contrasts sharply with the percentage amounts spent in Wales, and N. Ireland, to our disadvantage.
So they want some of the poorest pensioners in the developed world to pay for their propaganda, and for Boris’s tax cuts for the better off do they. Hopefully, people in my age group, who bear some of the responsibility for the Yes campaign defeat in 2014, will come to realise that when we get the opportunity in the near future to gain our independence, that we require our own national broadcaster, and hopefully a more honest approach, and accurate fact-based news.
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This is a link to the CH4 news report last night on the scrapping of the fee. It contains an interview with the BBC’s top man. The amounts of money mentioned sound a bit dodgy. Worth a watch.
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We have to pay for BBC Brit Nat agitprop. Now the Hootsman wants money to read its equally biased output.
I bought the Scotsman for two decades when it WAS a paper—a paper of record, good journalism, pro Home Rule, Liberal in its values—why would I buy this Unionist rubbish, daily lauding of Davidson and Co, silence on the Westminster cabal and asking no questions of our wanna-be Maisters in London?
A bit of further reportage re. hootsmon from holdthefrontpage. Link and snippets below:
The Scotsman has announced it is introducing the subscription model already being trialled at JPIMedia sister dailies The Gazette, in Blackpool, and The News, in Portsmouth.
The paywall move comes after it was reported JPIMedia was set to close half the office space used by staff working for The Scotsman, Evening News and Scotland on Sunday.
According to the Daily Business, the two floors the titles have occupied at their Orchard Brae headquarters since 2014 will be reduced to one.
JPIMedia declined to comment on the office space closure.
Their ever dwindling readership must ask themselves whether The End Is Nigh?