The Metro’s reporting (28/09/2022) of Sir Keir Starmer’s Speech at the 2022 Labour Party Conference was definitely limited, and offers students of media studies an interesting contemporary example of how news values and/ or agenda setting influence the news agenda.
There are some good examples here of what appear to be deliberate bias against labour…
Firstly on the headline page not only is the labour conference given half the space of the royals story the headline ‘don’t forgive’ makes them seem aggressive and harsh, AND there’s a little quip about Keir and his wife being dressed in sync which is maybe an attempt to belittle labour.
And then there’s the order and manner in which the two main items of the day are presented…
Firstly we have the royals, BEFORE the labour conference reporting…
And even Eurovision trumps Labour!
And then on page three AFTER Kate and Will and Eurovision we finally have an item on the labour party conference (well it’s page four, page two was a full page advert)…
Also note how this is all just dull text – there’s no attempt at all to bullet point the key ideas – there could be a nice infographic where the advert is to the left which would make this material more readable, but there isn’t.
Rather the message here seems to be ‘ignore this dull stuff but here’s some pictures of Keir and his wife who have dressed well’.
Of course it could just be plain old News Values influencing why Kate and Wills are appearing before Labour – the royals are more photogenic, and pictures matters in papers, and we have just had the death of the Queen so there is continuity.
HOWEVER, given the national interest surrounding the cost of living crisis and Tory economic policy crashing the economy I think there is more than News Values at work here…
Why I think this reporting might be ideological
There is some extremely significant political context to Starmer’s speech, rooted in some major socio-economic turbulence this Autumn.
The recent Tory budget gave some major tax cuts to the richest in society on top of recent hand-outs to the UK’s two biggest oil companies – BP and Shell, while ordinary people are left to soak up much of the increased cost of living themselves.
In short, the Tories have done more to help the rich than the poor and showed little interest in investing in a green-future to provide long term solutions to increasing energy prices and any potential future price shocks.
And Keir Starmer, the leader of the major opposition party is, in this speech, outlining a viable alternative strategy to what the Tories are offering.
And yet this speech has been relegated to small text on pages 4 and 5, after the pictures of Will and Kate in Wales.
To my mind this seems to be a straight up attempt to offer the masses some royal entertainment fluff rather than reporting on the Labour alternative to the cost of living crisis in an accessible manner.
I mean, think about it – they could have bullet pointed the key facts but all we have is a very unattractive full text version of the speech, it’s very easy to just ignore it, effectively rendering it invisible to many readers.
And given that the Metro is a right wing paper, that is probably the whole idea!
What do you think? Is this an example of ideological agenda setting?
Are the owners and editors of the Metro using their position of power to narrow the agenda of news reporting and discredit the views of Keir Starmer and the Labour Party…?
Or is this just plain old news values at work and the paper simply providing what the audience demand…?
This material should be of interest to students studying the Media option as part of A-level sociology.
It should also be of interest to students generally – it’s your future the Tories are messing up after all!
You can watch Sir Keir’s full speech here: