Archive for May, 2007

The policization of immigration 'news'

without comments

There are few better indicators of the increasing political polarisation of the press than their coverage of immigration. Read the Guardian and you’ll come away thinking immigration is levelling off, read the Telegraph and you’ll be convinced it’s escalating dangerously.
Under the headline ‘Migration from new EU states past peak’, Alan Travis reports in the Guardian that ‘Only 8,000 Romanian and Bulgarian migrants came to work in Britain in the first three months of this year’ and that this appears to ‘explode tabloid claims that 300,000 would flood in’. The 300,000 figure came from MigrationWatch and is contrasted with the much lower figure of 56,000 (from IPPR) – which Travis reckons will be proved much more accurate.
Now turn to the Telegraph and Philip Johnston who clocks up three articles on the same page, two about migration and one pointing to more mess-ups at the Home Office. Johnston concentrates on the record breaking 1 million new British citizens in 2006 and quotes MigrationWatch’s Sir Andrew Green’s sinister warnings that ‘we will pay a high price in terms of social harmony’.
The Independent has long since argued for the positive aspects of immigration in its news and comment, and the Mail has argued the opposite.
But the most bitter and bile-filled headline must go to the Daily Express which splashes its front page with ’92,000 East Europeans Milk Our Benefits’.
If you want ‘news’ about immigration, don’t open a newspaper.

Written by Martin Moore

May 23rd, 2007 at 7:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , ,

The 'dangers' of wi-fi continued…

with one comment

It was worse than I expected. Last night’s Panorama was fine as a polemic to convince people of the frightening health dangers of wi-fi, but certainly not as a balanced investigation.
When the person providing the evidence about radiation comes from an organisation which campaigns about the health dangers of Electromagnetic Field and Microwave Radiation (Powerwatch) you’ve got to wonder if the evidence might be a little one sided.
When much of the programme has spooky, X Files music in the background, gives all those who suggest there might be health dangers an easy ride, and singularly fails to find people who would argue the opposite, the one-sidedness becomes overwhelming.
It seems particularly strange that Paul Kenyon (presenting) talked about the dangers of wi-fi to children in schools but didn’t mention the dangers of a 10 year old pressing a mobile phone to his/her head for an hour or more a day.
If you take a look at the recommended comments on the BBC’s ‘Have Your Say’, you’ll get a good impression of what people thought about the objectivity of this programme. Here’s a taster:
“I’m really angry at the biased and sensationalist way this issue was presented on Panorama. Where were the dissenting views from the mainstream scientific community? Why didn’t the program spend more time acknowledging the most widely held view that there is no risk to health? It’s the MMR debacle all over again.” John Bidwell, Market Harborough

Written by Martin Moore

May 22nd, 2007 at 12:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

What's the point of Panorama?

with 3 comments

I mean that as a constructive question rather than an insult. Is it to analyse and explain current affairs to a broad public? Not really. Is it to investigate political scandals, medical malpratice, and scientific dangers? Well, yes. Or is it to stir up enough controversy to give it decent viewing figures? Probably that too.
The problem is, when it tries too hard to do the controversy it fails to do the investigation. A number of the programmes in this series have successfully attracted media attention and earned decent audience figures but it would be hard to describe them as groundbreaking investigative journalism.
Last week’s programme about Scientology became so personalised it was virtually impossible to work out what the purpose of it was. Rather than investigating the methods Scientology is using to apply for charitable status in the UK (and therefore qualify for tax breaks, plus win approval for its ‘religious’ status) it became a sort of sinister Louis Theroux with John Sweeney stalking and being stalked around LA.
And now tonight’s show promises to warn us of the health risks of wi-fi. Again, this gets a good press (Telegraph front page, Daily Mail inside) but to what purpose? James Randerson reports that the science behind the programmes allegations is fundamentally flawed and that, according to the Health Protection Agency, ‘a person sitting within a Wi-Fi hotspot for a year receives the same dose of radio waves as a person using a mobile phone for 20 minutes’. But the programme is about wi-fi, not mobile phones. So is the purpose just to scare us into watching?
Newspapers know that science scare stories make good headlines and boost sales figures. At the same time these headlines rarely explain scientific issues and often undermine the public’s ability to assess risk.

Written by Martin Moore

May 21st, 2007 at 2:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

Downtime

without comments

I’m taking a break for a week but will be back blogging from Monday 21st

Written by Martin Moore

May 13th, 2007 at 6:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with