As the vast majority of readers will know, the referendum in Scotland saw many media groups take a stance on whether or not the country should remain as part of the UK. The mainstream medias “input” into the debate certainly swayed a few voters.But it was not the first, nor will it be the last time that the media try and sway a political decision, indeed with the general election around the corner, the media continue to attempt to influence readers both North and South of the border.
In perhaps predictable fashion, not many manage to be more absurd in their coverage than The Sun, especially in their coverage of the Scottish National Party.
Contrasting Sun Coverage
The Scottish Sun announced in 2011 that it would begin to support the SNP, whilst the UK edition has supported The Conservative Party since 2009. This has created a conflict of interest, and thanks to social media, this conflict recently left the Murdoch newspaper with egg on its face. On the subject of Alex Salmond stating that down a Tory minority government both editions had a starkly different approach.
The UK edition of The Sun warned readers of an “SNP nightmare” and of “five years of mayhem and misery”, whilst the Scottish edition demanded that other UK parties and media outlets stopped “pounding the Nats”. Furthermore the Scottish paper praises Salmond for being “consistent” and looks to Scotland’s “serious influence”. Whilst it understandable (and in some ways decent that at least the reader knows the stance of the paper) it has to be stated that it is utterly stupid in this day of social media and online news to have such a varying stance on the same news story, on the same day. Or was it?
Whilst the contrasting media coverage caused ridicule across Scotland, is it something that the UK public should become more used to seeing? Following the success of Nicola Sturgeon at the first leaders debate, and the growing popularity of the SNP it is unlikely that The Scottish Sun will switch allegiance to the fastest growing party in the UK, whilst the UK edition would rightfully be mauled for pledging allegiance to a party that only represents part of the nation. The question that may become more prominent in the build up to the election is, are the SNP being deliberately targeted by the mainstream media?
Indeed, Nicola Sturgeon has one of the highest approval ratings of all the leaders in the EU yet continues, along with Alex Salmond, to be the villain of the piece for many outlets. But why is this?
Newspapers in the UK have an agenda that evolves and changes based on readers preferences, the political landscape and their competitors. The Scottish Sun’s rival The Daily Record is a staunch pro-Labour paper, thus arguably The Scottish Sun is merely filling the void by being pro-SNP.
For UK based newspapers with a Conservative agenda making the SNP out as an unknown fear makes sense. They are isolated in one geographical area, they are not known about down South, and they tried to break up the UK. Indeed, many media outlets treat the party similar to extreme parties such as the BNP, utilising their growth as something to fear. This is seen in The Sun’s treatment of the SNP in the British version as they shape a story to be in in line with their agenda.The Sun is clearly covering party politics in order to try and persuade readers to vote for the Conservatives. But with the continued rise of social media and mistrust in the media at an all-time high, how long can it continue?
Following the success of Nicola Sturgeon at the first leadership debate, it has been suggested that certain right-wing supporting publications intentionally over-praised the Scottish First Minister in order to raise overall support in the Tories, and suit their agenda. One thing’s for sure, with the election shaping up to be the closest in history; we have not seen the last of poor media coverage in a bid to strengthen their agenda.