Wednesday, June 22, 2016

UK teen wants better political coverage

Yelena Samofalova / youthjournalism.org
The British House of Parliament in London.
By Felicity Rodger
Reporter
EDINBURGH, United Kingdom – Honestly? I have heard enough about politics for now. From the U.S. presidential campaign to the UK's vote in the European Union referendum on Thursday, it is all getting a bit too much to bear.
As an aspiring journalist, I want news coverage of politics to be engaging, imaginative and balanced. In one specific case (the EU referendum), it has been very hard to pick those qualities out of any news stories in these recent weeks leading up to the vote.
Voters in the UK over the age of 18, will cast their vote Thursday, June 23 on whether the UK should remain in or leave the European Union.
Every politician says that this “Brexit” ballot is a once in a lifetime vote, and I agree. It is not every day you vote in such an important decision. But with recent polls showing so many undecided voters only days before the vote, I can see why this referendum has lost its initial spark with, not only the British public, but the world.
From a British voter's perspective, the start of the campaign was filled with facts and figures which were thrown about from side to side. But for months now, we have experienced too much bias, in my opinion, to one side. Based on news coverage, the “Remain” side should be way ahead of “Leave.”
Every day we seem to hear from another key figure from the business or political world who says that leaving the EU would be a disaster for our economy.
But many electoral polls in previous months show the two sides neck and neck. Surely if so many facts were decrying the leave side, as shown in the news, Remain should be about 20 percent ahead, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
I am trying to understand how news channels here in the UK can get away with this.
If I went onto the streets of where I live in Edinburgh, I reckon about 80 percent will say who they are voting for, but they do not know why they are voting for them. The reason for this is simply misleading facts and figures.
The British public did expect many figures to be thrown at them from each side but neither side has ever been clear on their specific aims or motives after we cast our votes. With many members of political parties in Westminster being split over this vote, leaders will cite different “facts” regardless of what a fellow voter of their same mindset just said half an hour ago in another news interview.
A most recent example of this would be United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage's controversial Leave campaign anti-immigrant poster showing a mass of non-white and the words “Breaking Point.”
This poster, which many called racist, caused major upset with both the Remain and the Leave campaigns.
A couple of weeks ago, the campaign in general began to turn personal and brutal, causing more news coverage to be blown out of proportion.
But after last week’s brutal murder of Member of Parliament Jo Cox, a member of the Labour Party who was an outspoken advocate for the Remain side, both sides stated that they would behave more democratically and civilized in the last days of the campaign.
I believe I speak for most of the British public when I say that we hope for more balanced coverage on tomorrow’s decision and on future campaigns. It is known and expected across the world that the news should be factual and unbiased, especially with regarding a crucial political vote. 
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