Monday, February 18, 2008

RUSI coverage illustrates political bias

Friday's press and media saw the report from the RUSI institute on the government's security policy get prominent attention.

The coverage was almost universal,two papers,the Mail and the Telegraph choosing to lead with the report and the BBC featuring it up on its news agenda that morning.

What credence can we give this story.The RUSI institute is according to its website

the leading forum in the UK for national and international Defence and Security. Founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington, RUSI is the oldest institute of its kind in the world


What is actually is is a pressure group made up of ex military and service chiefs often with an axe to gring against government policy.So why give it so much coverage?

This was the opening salvo from the Mail's story

Britain has become a soft touch for terrorists, leading defence experts warn today.
The world-renowned Royal United Services Institute has delivered an unprecedented attack on the Government's security policy.
It warns that a failure to "lay down the line" to immigrant populations is undermining the fight against domestic extremism.
It condemns the country's "fragmented" national identity and obsession with multiculturalism. And it accuses ministers of a "piecemeal and erratic response" to urgent threats to the nation and of starving the armed forces of cash to the point of "chronic disrepair".


I have highlighted what I would regard as immotive phrases.

When viewed on the web,note the links that the story was given

• Pilot wrongly accused of training September 11 hijackers cleared to sue for millions
• Revealed: the five men who had convictions for terrorist offences quashed despite poring over jihadist websites
• Intelligence cuts 'will leave Britain more exposed to terrorist threat'


The same story on BBC online opened like this

A Royal United Services Institute report criticised a "misplaced deference to 'multiculturalism'".
It says a cabinet committee should be set up to co-ordinate security.
But a Cabinet Office spokesman said some of the claims "do not stand up to scrutiny" and some recommendations had already been introduced.
'Post-Christian society'
The Rusi report was written by Professor Gwyn Prins of the London School of Economics and the Marquess of Salisbury, the former Conservative leader in the House of Lords.
Rusi says it is based on the findings of former military chiefs, diplomats, analysts and academics.


A rather different take,especially interesting that in the second paragraph,the BBC report is already quooting official reaction to the story which is being refuted.

Nowhere are official sources quoted in the Mail's article,instead the story develops into

The study also follows two blows this week to Labour's anti-terror strategy.
Appeal judges have given an Algerian pilot the go-ahead to claim compensation which could run into millions for being wrongly accused of training the September 11 hijackers.
And five young Muslim men had their convictions for terrorist offences quashed by the Appeal Court.
Laws making it a crime to possess extremist jihadi propaganda and literature could now have to be re-written and dozens more prosecutions could collapse after senior judges ruled that police and prosecutors must prove to juries that terror suspects not only possessed potentially dangerous material but were intent on using it in an attack


We have been asked this week to analyse a political story appearing in one of the tabloids and comparing it to BBC online coverage.It is a good exercise in analysing the political stance of a newspaper.Not suprisingly I chose the Mail to illustrate the radical differences.

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