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Bias and Moral Panics in the News and the Effect on Policy.

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Introduction

Bias and Moral Panics in the News and the Effect on Policy. It can be said that the news is not objective in its reporting, and most investigations of the news media are critical, either exaggerating stories or ignoring them completely. (Roshco, 1975, p3) This report will take the assumption that there is bias in news and look at the relationship between the news media, politics and the effect this can have on the public and on policy. The importance of situating bias will be discussed in relation to who owns the media outlet and where the sources come from. The issues concerning the public that are portrayed in the media will be looked at, as Tiffen explains "News responds primarily to two main influences: The development of politically consequential controversies and the occurrence of spot news, (accidents, crimes, disasters etc)" (Tiffen, 1989, p179) The contents in the media can often raise concerns within the public sphere and this will be looked at in relation to the idea of moral panics and agenda setting. For example one area discussed is the campaign by the News of the World in 2000 that raised concern in the public about the problem of paedophilia. The importance of these issues in the media will have an effect upon the response from the Government, whether it is official statements or new policies or changes in existing policy. ...read more.

Middle

The majority of bias in the news is often said by its critics to be based upon who owns the company, although the owners generally deny this, Rupert Murdock once claimed "I challenge anybody to show me an example of bias in Fox News channel" (www.guilfordian). However, analysts at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) found that out of 95 guests on the 'Signature Political News Show' 65 were self-declared conservatives, CNN compared by having a fairly small incline towards the republicans. (www.guilfordian) Another argument about why bias exists in the news media is that journalist's write up the information that is given too them, rather than seek out the truth and the issues for themselves about a story. As Steven C Day observes "For a profession that writes so much about the nature of political spin, it seems awfully wiling to put forth any information that it is fed" (www.poppolitics.com) What is important is the issues that arise from the stories and their inherent bias, as it is these that can be alleged to effect the public perception of the issue and make the government respond either by considering new policies for new issues that arise such as asylum seekers of modify existing ones such as prevention of crime. ...read more.

Conclusion

Since September the 11th, there has been much media attention about the influx of refugees into the United Kingdom. The high importance of this issue on the medias agenda, made the issue of great concern to the public. Resulting in a new policy to deal with the concerns of the public, the question is though was there really a problem at all? Before the policy was implemented, the government tried to reduce the issue through the media, after articles appeared in the news blaming the media and politicians for the hostility towards them, as one head line read, "Civil rights groups blame politicians and media for race hostility" (www.society.guardian.co.uk) A sub- group of the National Refugee Integration Forum was set up to produce a broader picture of asylum seekers and issues surrounding them in the press. (www.ramproject.org.uk) A few months later on November the 7th 2002 The National Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 was given Royal Assent. (www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk). What can be taken from this example in relation to agenda setting is that every body's agenda changes but it is not clear why. In terms of the moral panic approach it could be argued that the opposing political party, the Conservatives used the media to undermine the government and gain strong support for their campaign, and one news story about asylum and racial violence led to an increased occurrence and so more attention to the issue. However, using the agenda setting approach. ...read more.

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