Sorry – no time to write up yet, so beneath the fold are the videos of the event I spoke at earlier this month, looking at how the EU is portrayed in the British media and blogs.
The first panel (on which I sat) looked at the EU in the media, and was rather spoiled by David Rennie of the Economist (erstwhile Charlemagne, now Bagehot) having to leave early, leaving me stuck by default as the sole “pro-EU” voice – a role I wasn’t keen to accept. We then also got into the Eurozone crisis – areas I hoped David would be able to field, due to my lack of comfort with fiscal/economic policy debates – along with plenty of other sidetracks.
The second panel, focusing on the UK in British blogs, was a lot tighter and more focused – but probably of less interest to the general EU geek, rather than EU blogging geeks. There doesn’t appear to be video of that yet.
Short version of my take:
- Journalists are lazy
- Journalists are ignorant
- Journalists rarely bother to do their research
- Journalists are arrogant enough to assume they’re right without checking
- Journalists have too little space/time to satisfactorily explain complex issues to a general audience
- Too few newspapers employ decent sub-editors to fact-check
(And I say all this as a journalist, of sorts, who’s earned his living from writing, subbing and editing for more than a decade.)
- The EU is boring
- The EU is incredibly complicated
- The EU rarely does anything newsworthy
All this combines to give the likes of UKIP and other anti-EU groups plenty of scope for sexing up non-stories, lies and distortions to suit their agenda. People like Nigel Farage are entertaining, which is why they get airtime. People like Dan Hannan make the EU sound important and immediate, so they get listened to.
Even shorter version: If the EU *isn’t* getting reported in the media (because this isn’t a problem that’s exclusively British), that’s because it’s doing its job properly. If there’s nothing to report, that means there’s nothing to complain about.
But at the same time, I think it’s a genuine disgrace that the media – so often so proud of its role as the body that keeps an eye on the politicians for the public – pays so little attention to the EU when EU laws affect so many parts of our lives. This is largely due to ignorance and laziness on the part of the press – not helped by the EU being so very, very boring.
Not sure if I got that across or not. The videos are below – judge for yourself…