Really, really wrong and I enjoyed reading the Sunday papers today seeing how journalists tried to show that actually, they hadn’t. Few said “mea culpa.”
Journalists are mostly paid for their opinions and analysis. News we can get from Twitter – journalists are supposed to add insight. It is accepted that most will have an agenda of their own or that of the newspaper they are writing for, but in the case of Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May, and their appeal to the electorate, many journalists got their analysis badly wrong.
Opinion polls help form opinion and can affect the way that people vote. Journalist’s opinions can do the same. The role of the journalist is to interpret facts and in many cases “spin” them to influence their readers. This can be blatant, or subtle but whatever their approach it has to be recognised that their distorting effect is a factor in the outcome of elections – journalists have a responsibility and we should hold their feet to the fire. We don’t actually pay their salaries but if we stopped buying newspapers (or online subscriptions) their funders would probably close the titles.
The reason journalists get it wrong is (I suspect) that they are too close to the issues – they cannot see the wood for the trees. They get influenced by other people that are too close to the issues and a form of “groupthink” emerges. Pollsters, politicians and journalists all suffer from this and it is unhealthy.
I’d like to think that social media was the answer but it is easy to create your own bubble where the people you follow all have a view similar to your own. I tell people not to follow me on Twitter and regularly cull who I follow.
So, I have to ask journalists – Why did you get it so wrong about Mrs May? She spent 6 years at the Home Office where she demonstrated serial incompetence. Did you not talk to anyone who worked there? Why did you think she would be a good Prime Minister? David Cameron told her to reduce immigration to the tens of thousands. She failed. If she had any backbone she would have resigned.
And similarly with Jeremy Corbyn. Why did you listen to the whispers (shouts) about him from his rivals rather than looking at his personality and record?
Some advice – take a step back and try and see the whole wood.
Try and lose your prejudices – the Labour Party isn’t full of anti-semites, Nick – your prejudices distort your judgement.
I have never had any desire to be a journalist. I keep a blog and find it interesting to record my thoughts at points in history. I frequently make mistakes but I have called the political events of the last 3 years fairly accurately. My team in the US gave me a credit card with “I’m always right” printed on it. The intention was that in meetings I could bring it out and wave it around. It served its purpose – it made me listen a lot more to the team (perhaps I should have given one to Mrs May but it is too late now).
Another very good American saying is “Opinions are like arseholes everybody has one”. (Dirty Harry)