Last week, the SKWAWKBOX published details of a landmark academic study of mainstream media (MSM) journalism around the supposed issue of ‘Labour antisemitism’.
The report identified ninety-five serious, “systematic” failings in the methods and reporting of an array of titles and broadcasters, with the BBC News channel and the Guardian ranking as badly as, or even worse than, rags like the S*n and Mail in some areas. An “overwhelming source imbalance”, hostile treatment of dissenting witnesses while extreme views got a free ride, failure to provide right of reply and other complete breakdowns of good journalistic practice abounded.
MSM articles and programmes on the issue were routinely misleading and often fundamentally inaccurate. The report concluded that:
a systematic failure to both identify contentious claims, as well as check their veracity [and that] these findings warrant urgent attention from journalists, editors, policymakers and activists alike.
The report was unsurprisingly attacked by right-wing media, but its findings were supported in a letter to the Guardian signed by figures such as Noam Chomsky, Ken Loach, Yanis Varoufakis and an array of academics and activists.
The independent left media
What was not clear at the time is that the study also examined the independent media – both left and right – and found none of the inaccuracies common in the mainstream media.
Report author Dr Justin Schlosberg, of London’s Birkbeck University, spoke at length to the SKWAWKBOX about his findings. He had damning words for the MSM, describing the failed output of right-wing tabloids on the antisemitism issue as,
almost indistinguishable from the far right media such as Breitbart or Order-Order…professional news outlets are not providing an antidote to disinformation.
By contrast, “leftist” independent media are “often unfairly and lazily lumped together with” alt-right outlets by media keen to portray them as equivalents.
But Schlosberg found a huge difference between MSM/alt-right output on the antisemitism issue and that of the new left media:
What was very clear is that while leftist sites such as SKWAWKBOX, Canary and Evolve Politics may also have an imbalance of sources, it’s in a way that is entirely in line with their explicit editorial position of providing a corrective to the distortions of mainstream coverage.
But in terms of inaccuracies and the kinds of reporting failures that we broadly categorised as misleading, we found next to none of that in the left-wing independent publications.
It’s an obvious and – as Dr Schlosberg describes above – lazy tactic by the Establishment to paint left-wing independent media as ‘fake news’ and to attack their journalistic standards.
But now a rigorous academic study has found that what supporters of the ‘new left media’ have contended all along – that on a crucial issue, the mainstream media were in fact the fake news, abandoning proper journalistic standards.
That this was done in pursuit of an agenda seems beyond contention.
The independent left media, on the other hand, while honest about their political and editorial position, were both accurate and fair.
If you want to support good journalism, support the new left media.
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