Channel 4 anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy has urged the media to do more to question the ‘slogan-filled’ campaigns he believes politicians will prize over actual facts in the run-up to this year’s general election.
The news reader blamed the media for allowing politicians to get away with “accountability-light’ campaigning. Instead of properly questioning speeches and political statements, he said news outlets give them a “free platform”. “They [politicians] get this free platform whether or not they agree to answer questions from either the public or journalists,” Guru-Murthy continued.
He called on the industry to agree to properly scrutinize political campaigning over the next five weeks. “If the media acted together it could say speeches only get covered if there is proper questioning,” he added.
The news reader shared his thoughts on Twitter yesterday (28 April) before asking his following whether they agreed. Unsurprisingly, almost 100% of those who voted were in favour of the campaigns being properly scrutinized.
Unlike the persuasive messaging from big companies, political campaigns are not governed by the same standards. In fact, the Advertising Standards Authority does not have the power to ensure political parties conform to UK advertising codes that ensure their ads are legal, decent, honest and truthful. The issue was most recently apparent amidst the bitterly fought EU referendum, which sparked more than 350 complaints against ads that were used to sway votes.
Beyond media outlets, observers also believe Facebook and Google have a role to play. Earlier this week, Conservative MP Damian Collins urged Facebook to do more to tackle fake news in the run up to the general election next month. He told The Guardian that the top 20 fake news stories were shared more than the 20 true news stories during the three months leading up to the US election last year.