Read all about it! Brexit press coverage skewed!

by Annalisa Piras | 23.05.2016

An independent study released on Monday confirms one of the striking impressions of the referendum campaign so far: the Brexiteers’ message has resonated much more loudly in the media than that of the Remain camp.

Of 928 articles surveyed by the Oxford Reuters Institute of Journalism, 45% backed leaving the EU, with only 27% in favour of staying.

The survey was conducted in conjunction with German media insight specialists PRIME Research. It found most pro-leave articles appeared in The Daily Mail, closely followed by The Daily ExpressThe Daily StarThe Sun and The Daily Telegraph.

The Times was relatively balanced, while the most pro-remain articles were published by, in order, The Daily MirrorThe Guardian and The Financial Times. 

The institute’s finding of a pro-leave tilt in the coverage of most conservative papers coincides with a complaint by InFacts to the UK’s press watchdog about referendum articles published by The Telegraph, Mail and Express.

Each has published a string of stories on migration, terrorism, crime and control of our borders that contain factual mistakes and/or distortions, according to a dossier compiled by InFacts. We have reported eight of what we consider to be the most egregious examples of inaccurate or misleading stories to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).

The Eurosceptic press is not alone in being criticised for its reporting of the campaign. The BBC has struggled at times to demonstrate that impartiality does not mean putting the truth and falsehood on the same level as claim and counterclaim.

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As Timothy Garton Ash has written, the public broadcaster “needs to do better on being robustly informative, which requires distinguishing not just between fact and fiction, but also between well-informed guess and mere bravado”.

As an Italian I grew up in awe of British journalism, but what I have witnessed so far of the referendum coverage does not strike me as meeting the golden standard for objectivity and balance. This is not the British media’s finest hour. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts.

Given the media firepower behind Leave campaign, it is a consolation that opinion polls seem to be shifting against Brexit. Could it be, as the Mail On Sunday suggested yesterday, that their logic is beginning to crumble in the face of the facts?

Edited by Alan Wheatley

Tags: , Categories: Articles

8 Responses to “Read all about it! Brexit press coverage skewed!”

  • The IN campaign has had the advantage of getting its message delivered free to every household, so it matters little that it may or may not be slightly disadvantaged in press articles. The endless parade of establishment figures warning about the imminent arrival of the four horsemen has also delivered a steady supply of alarmist nonsense. I am sure you are pleased.

    The crux of the matter, however, is democracy, not economics. British democracy is being squeezed in the mangle of the EU and we will be left with its hollow shell. Your campaign is part of the smug movement of those who fondly imagine themselves to be Europe’s elite. You need the rest of us to trust you (fat chance, Sunshine) or be lulled or frightened into acquiescence. We already have third-rate politicians who are quite accustomed to citing lack of power at the UK level to excuse lack of action.

    Instead of whinging about press coverage, why not tell us how you see the EU as a democratic organisation, as opposed to it being an antidemocratic body?

    • Pointing out the use of propaganda is just as important as this article you propose on democracy within the EU.

      (I can only think that you don’t know what a democracy actually is)

  • Well Harry,

    That’s all very rich when even your own side recognised the misleading information (lies) being peddled by the Outsiders.


    But perhaps you’d like to explain why not one of our allies or major trading partners supports your attempts to bamboozle us into a fantasy Tea Party freedom?

    And while you’re at it, what is so democratic about the House of Lords? If credibility were your concern, I’d advise being careful throwing stones near glasshouses.

  • MEP’s are elected under a PR system ensuring that a greater proportion of the electorate are represented by someone who represents their views. Unlike our antiquated first past the post system which ensures that only the votes of a handful of voters in marginal seats really count for anything.

    EU commissioners are appointed to serve a 5 year term by national governments. Since all EU member states are democracies they are accountable back to their national plebiscite. This is no different to our own cabinet whom we don’t directly eject either.

    The President of the commission is elected by the commissioners again not direct but not really that different to our own prime minister who is elected by his or her own party through whatever system they favour – again we have no direct say so it can’t be argued it is any more democratic. In fact of course the prime minister is not our head of state – that would be the Queen who is not elected at all – true she vests her Royal prerogative in the prime minister of the day but in his capacity of first Lord of the privy council whose members are not elected but appointed for life on the basis that they have held high office in the past.

    The EU council is made up of heads of state elected through whatever national system applies, the presidency rotates around the member states. The council with its vetos and and qualified majority voting serves a similar function except its members are not hereditary or appointed for life.

    The parliament acts as s second control in the commission as it has to approve the EU budget.

    So tell me again how the EU is undemocratic – those in glass houses!

    • smashing rebuttal of the anti-democratic Brussels bogey man theory. You could also add that as the decision making process goes through 28 nations governments and parliaments and media systems scrutiny it is arguably one of the most transparent in the world

  • Leave supporters tend to exhibit a variant of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.

    Anybody who is against Brexit is automatically either part of the smug European Elite and/or in the pay of the EU and therefore their evidence or opinion is not credible.

    The upshot is that there is no credible evidence or opinion against Brexit.

  • I have a Google alert set for daily Bexit coverage and the results are overwhelming anti-Leave. Why doesn’t the reality actually support the theory.?

  • It is not a theory, it is an analytical study by the Oxford Reuters Institute of Journalism and the German media insight specialists PRIME Research.

    But of course your Google alert device must be much more sophisticated and accurate.