Saturday, 14 May 2011

Telegraph vs balance and integrity

The Telegraph selected a strange story to give pride of place on its website, the other day, reserving that privileged spot for a report describing a letter the paper had received, signed by several doctors, expressing their support for the government's NHS reforms (1).

These reforms are controversial and have generated a lot of debate; but are we really to believe it deserved the prime spot at the very top of the website? I mean, was the fact that some Doctors had written a letter REALLY the most important news in the world that day?

While the Telegraph piece did acknowledge that the doctors who signed the letter were "all heads of recently-formed GPs' consortia" - that is to say, they're the ones who are going to benefit from the policy and thus would be expected to support it - the article neglected to mention that the person leading the campaign is a Dr Jonathan Munday. Dr Munday has extensive and long term connections with the Conservative party. He's posted on the Conservative Home website (2) and even lists 'conservative politics' (along with 'Freemasonry') among is interests on his website (3). He's also the former Conservative councillor and mayor of Kensington.

The Telegraph 'story' boils down to this: dyed in the wool Tories supports Tory policy that will benefit them SHOCKAH!

There is, of course, nothing wrong with any of this, not even the Freemasonry. But you would think a newspaper purporting to report fairly and objectively, without bias or favour, would have taken the few minutes necessary to check if the signatories of the letter were disinterested, or were acting as shills for the unpopular Conservative policy. The Telegraph didn't bother to do that, just regurgitated the propaganda.

Still, at least they didn't have the rank hypocritical self righteousness to accuse others of doing precisely what they were doing. that is, passing off politically biased propaganda as objective journalism.

Oh, wait a minute ...

David Hughes, the Telegraph's chief leader writer even wrote an incensed post on the Telegraph's blog, about how the supposedly leftwing media was ignoring the story:
There was not a word on this story in the news bulletins of our public service broadcaster. Just imagine what would have happened if the 42 had written a letter saying the reforms were all a terrible mistake and simply would not work. The BBC would have trumpeted it from the rooftops; talking heads would have been wheeled into the Today studio; we would have been in full Coalition in Crisis mode. Instead, we’ve had a complete and rather shameful silence. There is something unsettling about the national broadcaster choosing to ignore a major political story because it does not suit its own agenda. (4)
There was, of course, "not a word" in the Telegraph about Dr Munday's links to the Conservative Party. Once could almost describe this silence as "rather shameful." There is, indeed, "something unsettling" about a national newspaper "choosing to ignore" pertinent truths because "it does not suit its own agenda" to inform its readers. The Telegraph chose to let its ideology and factional support to betray its duty to report inconvenient truth along with the convenient.
1 - "Health reforms 'will benefit most vulnerable in society'," by Stephen Adams. Published in The Telegraph, 10th of May, 2011. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8505943/Health-reforms-will-benefit-most-vulnerable-in-society.html)
2 - "A Federal Parliament," by Dr Jonathan Munday. Posted on Conservative Home, 15th of December, 2006. (http://conservativehome.blogs.com/100policies/2006/12/dr_jonathan_mun.html). The good Dr has contributed other pieces to Conservative Home.
3 - Dr Munday's batty website is - coincidentally, I'm sure - unavailable. However, a cached version can still be viewed. (http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:R93RwSMjKP0J:mundays.net/+Dr+Jonathan+Munday&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&client=ubuntu&source=www.google.com)
4 - "The BBC reports the news – just as long as it suits its agenda," by David Hughes. Published in the Telegraph Blog, 11th of May, 2011. (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/davidhughes/100087445/the-bbc-reports-the-news-%E2%80%93-just-as-long-as-it-suits-its-agenda/)

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