The Blog

Why the Media Must be Impartial in the Run Up to the EU Referendum

The date is set and the arguments have begun. On June 23rd the people of the United Kingdom will get the chance to vote over their membership of the European Union, and whether the country should remain within the EU, or leave.

This will be the most important political decision many people will ever make in their lifetimes. General elections happen every five years, politicians come and go, but if we leave the EU - there is no going back.

This is why it is imperative that the media allow the British people to make this decision based on the facts and nothing more.

For many months now, the British press have been churning out anti-European propaganda. Since when has it been down to the media to decide who will win this referendum? Why is it that the wealthy magnates on Fleet Street could be the ones deciding the results of this referendum by regurgitating their anti-EU rhetoric to their readers?

In this referendum the media have a responsibility to explain the advantages and disadvantages of remaining in the European Union in layperson's terms. This will enable people to make an informed decision on the 23rd June over what could end up being the biggest political shake up in many decades.

One newspaper which has never said a positive word about the European Union is Richard Desmond's Daily Express. Their front page headlines from the past week include 'You can't win Prime

Minister', 'Cameron's EU deal is a con' and 'Cameron's EU deal is no good'.

Of course newspapers are allowed to express an opinion, but leave that to the columnists! Biased opinions should not be presented to the British public as matter of facts, especially when some people will literally believe anything they read.

The media has a huge role to play in this referendum as many people do not understand the political issues involved in order to make an informed decision. The press needs to be politically neutral and present the news factually rather than having media owners exploiting their powerful position in society to manipulate the public into voting in a particular way.

The media's coverage of the European Union is a classic example of the Hypodermic Syringe model, where media owners inject a particular message into the minds of its audience, in the same way drugs are inserted into the body.

The Hypodermic Syringe Model suggests that the media is so powerful, the audience are powerless to resist the message or reject it meaning they passively accept whatever they read or hear.

It is the job of the politicians and political groups to persuade people to join their cause, not the media, a source that the public should trust!

Similarly, the media should not actively push a pro-EU agenda. Currently I am unaware of any media organisation that is publicly supporting the cause to remain in Europe, which increases the likelihood audiences will be inevitably be misinformed.

There are news institutions that are unbiased and present the news on a factual basis. These institutions are almost always on the broadcast platform. The headline on BBC news for example was 'EU deal done, Gove backs Brexit'. Compare that to the Daily Express headlines. At least we don't get Huw Edwards shouting down the teleprompter "The migrants are taking our jobs" or "Stay in Europe and we will have a Jihadi Prime Minister this time next year".

It isn't just the broadcast institutions who are impartial in the run up to the referendum. The Independent has been providing objective factual information for its readers. What a shame the newspaper will cease to exist this time next month!

It was a similar story with elections in the UK back in 2015, when almost every newspaper publicly supported David Cameron's Conservative party in the run up to the General Election. Of course, this was what the media owners wanted, not necessarily the public who may have relied on these newspapers when voting at the ballot box.

Over the past few years, media ownership has become a lot more concentrated with fewer and fewer people having any say over media agenda setting.

This has to change as the rich media owners are ultimately the ones who are controlling society's decisions which will impact us all.

I realise the irony of using a media platform to express this view, and encourage people reading this to be active rather than passive by sharing your opinions in the comments section.

I will leave you with a quote from singer Jim Morrison - "Whoever controls the media controls the mind".