The Media Standards Trust has published a report ‘Analysis: Press Coverage of Leveson Part 1: The Inquiry’ [pdf], the first comprehensive review of the UK Press’ coverage of the Leveson Inquiry.
- Over 2,000 articles and over one million words were published on the Inquiry between July 2011 and November 2012 – 73% during the period of oral hearings.
- One viewpoint dominated evaluative coverage of the Inquiry. Of those articles that expressed a view, 76% presented one perspective;
- That viewpoint was overwhelmingly negative. Only 18% of articles that expressed or contained a view were positive (6% contained both positive and negative views). Negative coverage increased substantially in the 100 days before publication of the Leveson Report
- Reporting on proposed regulatory outcomes was virtually non-existent. Of the 3% of articles that dealt substantively with plans for a new system of press regulation, 9 out of 10 were about the newspaper industry’s own plan.
Other key findings were:
- Negative coverage usually framed the Inquiry as a potential threat to press freedom. 280 stories (64%) of those with evaluative coverage) contained descriptions of the ‘threats’ posed by press regulation. In contrast, there were 103 positive references to the Inquiry in all newspapers across the whole period of study
- In the 100 days prior to the publication of the report, newspaper leader articles on the Inquiry nearly all contained negative references to the Inquiry or its outcomes. Of 28 leaders in all papers published between 20th August and 27th November 2012, 23 contained only negative viewpoints on the Inquiry. Two contained no evaluative statements at all, while three contained both positive and negative viewpoints. None were purely positive.
The report is published alongside the datasets generated by the project (available here [pdf]) and the MST invites the public to analyse the data first-hand for their own research, or to comment on the content of the report.
Media Standards Trust Research Fellow and author of the report Dr. Gordon Neil Ramsay said:
“It is startling to see the lack of diversity of viewpoints in the Leveson coverage, not just in opinion pieces, but also from sources in news articles. It is also striking that, while expressing a clear view of their own, few papers gave the public the information necessary to make their own minds up about the future system of regulation”.