Wednesday March 8th, 2017

Papers Reviewed: The Sun, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Times

The SunSun

Topic of article: International Politics, Crime

Headline: Spy in your TV

Author(s): James Beal (UK Editor)

Analysis: Report on the recent release by Wikileaks of secret CIA and MI5 documents that detail the organisations’ techniques to hack into consumer electronics. The Sun begins by directing its news towards the reader, claiming there is a ‘Spy in YOUR TV’. This immediately makes the reader take notice, and again, as is a common technique with the Sun, creates an emotive response towards the news. While emotion and the news can never truly by separated, this direct linking of the two by the Sun and other tabloid newspapers develops into an ability to ignore and disregard statistics and some of the less-emotive aspects of information. When the saying ‘I feel/believe that it is true’ begins to supplant evidence-based facts then the ability to create alternative facts plays into the hands of the powerful. The article itself offers a simple explanation of the Wikileak’s story, with the focus on the ability to hack televisions and the use of colloquial terms for spies (spooks) and calling the schemes ‘sinister’.

The GuardianGuardian

Topic of article: International Politics, Crime

Headline: CIA hacking tools exposed by huge leak

Author(s): Ewen MacAskill, Sam Thielman (New York Correspondent), Philip Oltermann (Berlin Correspondent)

Analysis: Report on the recent release by Wikileaks of secret CIA and MI5 documents that detail the organisations’ techniques to hack into consumer electronics. Described as the biggest leak of top-secret government documents since the Edward Snowden case in 2013, there was no way this story wasn’t going to make the front-page news. Although it did have to share space with the opening of the Chanel fashion show in Paris, a fitting tribute to our inability to comprehend news without some eye candy thrown in on the side. The article begins by mentioning a ‘fresh embarrassment’ for the US intelligence agencies, both a reference to the previous leaks of documents and perhaps a continuing reference to the public feud between them and Donald Trump, the president of the United States. What is the most disturbing part of this leak, and surely the one that will grab the attention of the readers and public, is the use of hacking to gain access to personal electronic devices. In the second paragraph the article first mentions the scheme to break into and remotely control smart TVs, and this is repeated multiple times. This may be due to the invasive nature of this action, to feel that your TV is watching you and recording you does not make for very comfortable late-night television in the sofa. And this does beg the question of how far the surveillance has been taken – we know the NSA can retrieve messages and calls from our phones, and now the CIA and MI5 can remotely control our TV’s. What oversight exists to control the seeming all encompassing reach of state organisations, those with a lot of money and technology, from watching our every move. And yet despite this fear, and the reporting of this as front-page news, it is likely that the public will move onto other things within the next few days, as this kind of knowledge is normalised and forgotten. The article itself does a good job of reporting without significant bias, not calling Wikileaks sinister and a Russian spy conduit, although they do mention this as quoted from US officials.

The Daily MailMail

Topic of article: Health

Headline: Prostate therapy without surgery

Author(s): Ben Spencer (Medical Correspondent)

Analysis: Report on the results of a recent clinical trial that has investigated the use of a novel new method in the treatment of an enlarged prostate. The headline proclaims the therapy will be ‘without surgery’ – surely a welcome line for any person to read when considering the treatment of a disease, although in this case perhaps slightly misleading. It will generate reader interest but when investigated more the article claims it will only reduce the need for the potentially harmful surgical procedure currently used, and artery embolization is not a procedure without some amount of bodily interference. Still, the procedure offers hope to reduce the nasty side-effects of the prostate surgery and this is hope enough for men suffering from the condition. The awareness of prostate problems has risen over the past few years, with campaigns aimed at prostate cancer being seen, and this article follows on from that awareness with news of new treatment modalities, albeit not for cancer but for an enlarged prostate. The article mentions a ‘successful trial’ in Portugal using the new technique, although as with all news stories regarding scientific papers there is no mention of any statistics supporting this purported success, not even an n number to denote the numbers of patients involved in the study. This makes it difficult to analyse the validity of the information being given. It would also have been useful to quote a doctor or medical professional who could have given some insight into the theory behind the technique or the manner in which it would be implemented.

The TimesTimes

Topic of article: International Politics, Crime

Headline: Thousands of CIA spy files posted on the internet

Author(s): Sean O’Neill (Crime Editor), Deborah Haynes (Defence Editor), Fiona Hamilton (Crime and Security Editor), and David Charter (Berlin Correspondent)

Analysis: Report on the recent release by Wikileaks of secret CIA and MI5 documents that detail the organisations’ techniques to hack into consumer electronics. The headline of the article seems to oversimplify the leak, claiming the files are ‘posted on the internet’ – which to some extent they are although not in the general sense that a reader is given when seeing this. Its not like the documents will be found floating around our Facebook feeds anytime soon, so perhaps this is used as a way of explaining to the reader, in very simple terms, what has happened. There are also four writers given authorship on the article, a much larger number than usual and a reference to either the quantity of information that must be shifted through or the importance of the story. These kind of leaks offer a lot of material to write articles from but do require large amounts of man power to sift through the information. The article begins by immediately mentioning the involvement of British intelligence agencies, and in this way the paper can create an immediately relevant connection between the readers and these leaked, but often American-centric, documents. A further focus on the hacking of smart-TVs and Android systems serves to drive the point home – these documents are directly linked to your life and the electronic devices you store that life on. With the ever increasing use of phones and computers through which we lead our life the impact of this leak seems timely and more relevant than every before. What is interesting is a lack of analysis on the culpability of Wikileaks – although seen by some as an independent conduit of pure information which has been suppressed by government organisations, there remain numerous questions regarding the true independence of the site. But perhaps there is so much information being released that the papers do no have time to investigate these allegations, and allegations from countries who can easily have an agenda against Wikileaks would need to be handled carefully.

Front page images from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs/the_papers

Reviewed by: Sam Hewitt

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