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Journalistic transgressions in the representation of Jeremy Corbyn: From watchdog to attackdog

Author: Cammaerts, B., DeCillia, B., & Magalhães, J. C.
Published in: Journalism, 21(2), 191-208
Year: 2017
Type: Academic articles
DOI: 10.1177/1464884917734055

This research critically assesses the press coverage of Jeremy Corbyn during his leadership bid and subsequent first months as the leader of the United Kingdom’s Labour Party. A content analysis (n = 812) found that the British press offered a distorted and overly antagonistic view of the long-serving MP. Corbyn is often denied a voice and news organisations tended to prize anti-Corbyn sources over favourable ones. Much of the coverage is decidedly scornful and ridicules the leader of the opposition. This analysis also tests a set of normative conceptions of the media in a democracy. In view of this, our research contends that the British press acted more as an attackdog than a watchdog when it comes to the reporting of Corbyn. We conclude that the transgression from traditional monitorial practices to snarling attacks is unhealthy for democracy, and it furthermore raises serious ethical questions for UK journalism and its role in society.

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