Newspapers reviewed: The Times, The Guardian, The Sun, The Daily Mail, USA Today (International)
Newspaper front page source: http://en.kiosko.net/
Topic of article: Economics
Headline: Petrol price rise in prospect
Author: Sam Coates (Deputy Political Editor), Phillip Aldrick (Economics Editor)
Aim of the article: This is informing the readers of the content of the publication of the Institute for Fiscal Studies annual “Green Budget” which analyses the financial situation for the country for the year ahead. This is usually published a month before the annual budget from the Chancellor of the Exchequer which this year will be delivered on Wednesday 16th March.
Agenda of the article: The article is effectively outlining evidence, using the IFS report, that the Chancellor George Osbourne is unlikely to be able to fulfill the conservative pledges to freeze fuel duty, raise the personal income tax allowance and to “balance the books” by eliminating the deficit by the end of this parliament in 2020. They are using the “expert” evidence that there is a £3 billion short-fall that needs to be made, possibly by increasing fuel duty. They also highlight that the surplus of £10 billion for the last year of this parliament is too small to allow for any poor growth in GDP or other economic problems such as global stock market difficulties that are possibly on the horizon.
Bias of the article: The article is basing most of its information on the Institute of Fiscal studies Green Budget report. The IFS are incredibly respected in reporting and analysing government spending, taxes and budgets, but this is only one source and it is reported here to be disparaging about the chance of this government’s manifesto goals being met. There is no information provided by any government sources, or even opposition sources, except reference to the Conservative manifesto. The article also uses international prices of fuel to highlight that the treasury already tax far higher than elsewhere, however doesn’t indicate how higher taxes could be beneficial for society. Furthermore the only other quote is from the pressure group FairFuel UK who are unlikely to take any other stance than this critical one.
Topic of article: Economics
Headline: Warning of tax rises as market turmoil hits Osbourne budget
Author: Larry Elliot (Economics Editor) and Phillip Inman (Economics correspondent)
Aim of the article: This article is informing the readers of the conclusions of the “Green Budget” annual report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) which is that the course for the Chancellor to achieve his pledge of turning the current £70 billion deficit into surplus by 2020 is under increasing threat and may force them into “deeper cuts in welfare, cut spending further or raise taxes.”
Agenda of the article: This article goes further than The Times, who focus on the potential adjustment for the course of increasing fuel duty, as it indicates that there are multiple factors in play that make Osbourne’s goals increasingly challenging. These include the question of Britain leaving the EU, international share prices crashing and global economic downturns for example the recent issues with the Chinese markets. They are moving towards the suggestion that despite the already “deep” cuts to welfare and spending, this has been insufficient in eliminating the deficit and therefore more may be done before the end of this parliament. They do not only discuss the global economic potential issues as they also attribute some of this shortcoming to the chancellor “placing big bets on volatile tax receipts” and also using the word “over-optimistic” indicating that the Chancellor cannot be absolved for his responsibility in this.
Bias of the article: Similarly to The Times, the article only quotes the IFS report and their president Paul Johnson whom the same newspaper reported to be as influential as any individual politician running in the 2015 general election. It is useful for newspapers to be able to report the findings and analysis of think tanks as these organisations – especially the IFS – pride themselves on being non-partisan, which helps the newspaper appear impartial themselves. This impartiality is rarely brought into question, except from perhaps in 2010 when Nick Clegg criticised their analysis of the coalition’s Spending Review, and generally that was a rare occurrence for institutions as respected as the IFS. Views directly from the political world or other institutions are not present in this article.
Topic of article: Police
Headline: The Lying Squad
Mike Sullivan (Crime Editor)
Aim of the article: T
he article informs readers that the a unit of the Metropolitan Police’s Territorial Support (TSG) – who respond to spontaneous events such as riots – have been decommissioned at the same time that a number of the members are under investigation for claiming they were working overtime when Oyster Card records showed that they were actually on their journeys home
Agenda of the article: The article effectively aims to expose this “riot squad” by implying that the whole squad, based in Paddington Green in Westminster, were involved in this together and therefore the squad has been “disbanded” in disgrace. There are two themes apparent: firstly of those who are usually thought of as trustworthy actually “fiddling overtime”; and secondly that this was a “mass” waste of innocent tax-payers money.
Bias of the article: The direct link of the timing between the decommissioning of the specific unit of the TSG this January and these claims are generally denied by Metropolitan Police spokespeople, with their internal investigation beginning in 2014. In addition the decommissioning is reported by the Met Police themselves to be part of a a restructuring and relocation money-saving decision. Furthermore the “mass” nature of the claiming overtime is also exaggerated as the unit had over 100 people and only 20 are facing disciplinary action. There is no room on this front page for questions of those unit-members who were not involved, or the details of the roles that the TSG fulfill and quotes within the paper notably use an ex-colleague of the force.
The Daily Mail
Topic of article: Politics
Headline: Cameron ‘The Scaremonger’
Author: James Slack (Political Editor)
Aim of the article: The article is reporting the reaction to Prime Minister’s speech from the previous evening regarding the effect of leaving the EU for Britain on border security between Britain and France.
Agenda of the article: The article is effectively arguing that Cameron has resorted to using “scaremongering” as a tactic when trying to persuade others to vote to stay in the EU. This aims to further discredit the Prime Minister as a source of reliable information when regarding the coming referendum . This includes using “Senior Tories”, “Insiders” from France and MP Sarah Wollaston as supporting this criticism of the Prime Minister’s suggestion that France may not oblige to protect UK borders if the UK were to leave “the Brussels club.”
Bias of the article: The articles’ aim is to undermine and disprove what the Prime Minister is saying and doesn’t give any time to any argument in support. The article only quotes aspects that tend towards the more extreme “Brexit” point of view, whilst still claiming to be moderate and reasonable. This includes the tactical description of Sarah Wollaston MP as a “Tory moderate” as – regardless of how moderate she is – her quote supports the article in stirring up suspicion and mistrust for David Cameron and the whole “Yes” campaign. Interestingly the article reports that “Senior ministers in both the In and Out groups” disagreed with the Prime Minister, somewhat implying that the article’s stance was neutral and commonplace. Criticising others for “ratcheting up the alarmist rhetoric” are we Daily Mail? Oh the irony.
International: USA Today
Topic of article: Politics
Headline: New Hampshire Primary: Game On
Author: Susan Page (Washington Bureau Chief)
Aim of the article: The article is outlining the situation, as the writer sees it, at the New Hampshire primary for the Democratic nomination to run for presidency. It breaks this down into each candidates in order to describe this first step in the campaign trail.
Agenda of the article: The article is describing this as the first hurdle in a marathon for those campaigning for nominations and so the article is laying out where each of the candidates stand in the state. It highlights that what happens in New Hampshire is important to some degree but discusses reservations about the longevity of early success by referring to previous winners and losers. Overall the article says that Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Senator, is so significantly ahead of his competitor Clinton that her best hope is to keep his win only “single digits” away from him. It also describes that she has her attention also on to other states such as South Carolina and the events of Super Tuesday.
Bias of the article: The article is using state-wide polls to emphasise the likelihood that Sanders will win in New Hampshire, which may not be reliable. It also illustrates points using selected previous elections, which similarly may be chosen to reflect their point of view. This is best highlighted looking at the headings “Sanders: Win in a walk” and “Clinton: Keep it close.” The article doesn’t discuss the Republican battle for nomination on the front-page, which could suggest a brief reprise from the storm of drama from Trump and his competitors.