Papers Reviewed: The Sun, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Times
Topic of article: NHS, Healthcare, Immigration
Headline: Here for Maternity
Authors: Nick McDermott (Health Editor), Shaun Wooller (Health and Science Reporter)
Aim of the article: To inform the public about a recent report that claims an NHS hospital has been left with £4million in debt following health tourism in the maternity unit
Agenda of the article: The article uses a classic Sun pun to present the idea that foreign mums would stay forever in the NHS and drain it of valuable resources, without giving anything back to the country. They call it ‘health tourism’ to conjure up the image of happy, tanned mums taking a little trip to England, having their kid in the hospitals, maybe going for a few drinks and then heading home. The aim of this portrayal of non-EU mums is to create a sense of anger and injustice felt by the British public towards them and to foster the ideas of closing down borders and rejecting foreign influence. The Sun does a good job of consistently ramping up fear and rejection towards non-British values and people with stories like this.
Bias of the article: There are no sources quoted to check the figures or even the claims of 900 foreign mums being in a single hospital. The article merely mentions ‘officials’ claims, and leaves little room for consideration of where a figure of £4million comes from. It even has a quote at the end of the front page from the hospital (again no direct source) saying that the ‘true scale of the problem’ has not been identified – in other words the numbers have not been validated.
Topic of article: Syria, Politics
Headline: In Westminster a debate begins; In Syria disaster knows no end
Authors: Patrick Wintour (Diplomatic Editor)
Aim of the article: To report on the recent speech by the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and the current relations between Russia and Britain over Syria
Agenda of the article: The article’s title creates an important juxtaposition – that while politicians in the West debate possible actions in Syria the bombing and death of civilians continues in the country. What’s more the use of ‘begins’ gives the impression that the ministers have only just woken up to the horrors of the war, while the Syrians have lived in endless disaster. The title is perhaps intended as a wake-up call to readers regarding the continuing conflict in Syria which is accompanied by a continued lack of interest from many in the West. This attitude is interestingly evident within the body of the main article, which spends the majority of time focusing on the breakdown between Britain and the West’s relationship with Russia, rather than the atrocities committed in Syria. There is an article devoted to the horrors of working in the country beside it, but the main article does seem to embody some of this continued focus on how the conflict affects the West. At times the civil war seems to be relegated to merely a point of contention between two world superpowers.
Bias of the article: The article offers quotes from both Johnson and the Russian embassy, allowing both sides of the argument a chance to voice opinions. The Russian quote is however chosen from their twitter feed so is perhaps not the most appropriate way to present a focused rebuttal of Johnson’s comments. The opinion of the West’s is that Russia is losing it at the moment and there is certainly a sense of that given in the information reported here, with the recent calling off of a state visit to France and the ‘pariah nation’ quote.
The Daily Mail
Topic of article: Economics, Politics, Transport
Headline: It’s full steam ahead for HS2
Author(s): James Salmon (Business, Transport and Property Correspondent), Larisa Brown (Political and Defence Correspondent)
Aim of the article: To report on the Government’s plans to build HS2, the high speed railway
Agenda of the article: The article presents the move by the government as being implemented forcefully and against many MPs wishes – with an all capital ‘WILL be built’ being used to emphasis the nature of the decision. The divisions within the party are shown here as the paper writes about a growing number of tory MPs who oppose the decision, and combined these are used to show May’s government as being hard an uncompromising, even within its own party. The frequent use of figures to illustrate the cost, such as £90billion and £55billion allows the reader to easily visualise the cost of the project, one of the more important aspects of MP’s opposition and could create some anger towards the decision if these numbers are viewed as excessive.
Bias of the article: There are no sources for the cost figures quoted and so these are hard to check for validity. The reported ‘final go ahead’ for the project has also no sources so this again is hard to confirm. In addition there are no quotes from the opposing MP’s regarding their stance on the proposed project.
Topic of article: Politics, Syria
Headline: Russia fury at Johnson over Syria
Authors: Lucy Fisher (Senior Political Correspondent), Deborah Haynes (Defence Editor)
Aim of the article: Report on Boris Johnson’s recent speech regarding Russia and the Russian response
Agenda of the article: The article focuses almost purely on Johnson’s comments about protests outside the Russian embassy. The subtitle uses the words ‘demands protest’ which is rather interesting as from all the quotes in the media he seems to only have commented on the lack of protests evident from anti-war groups and said he would ‘like to see’ some demonstrations. This apparent mis-quoting could be explained by the lack of a catchy line to put under the title, and gives the impression of a much more frenzied man than may be the case. The body of the article presents Johnson quotes, offset by the Russian response, which is considerably longer, perhaps intended to show the force of the Russian denouncement of his comments and the potentially volatile situation he may have created by his words. What is interesting is the way that the article reports Johnson’s comments about a no-fly zone: they say that he ‘refused to rule it out’, while the Guardian today says that he ‘appeared to reject calls’ – two takes on the same statement which present very different viewpoints.
Bias of the article: There are a variety of sources quoted on both sides of the argument, although there are no quotes from other Western states regarding their stance on Russia, to perhaps support the statements regarding a ‘pariah nation’. Stop the War coalition is not given a chance to defend itself either following comments about its actions. A further discussion regarding Russia’s actions within Syria would have allowed a deeper understanding of the context of these comments.
Front page images from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs/the_papers
Reviewed by: Sam Hewitt