The UKIP-supporting tabloid The Daily Express has been trying to stir up anxiety among its readership over the New Years Eve sex attacks in Germany.
Under the alarming headline NOW BRITAIN FACES MIGRANT SEX ATTACKS AFTER SURGE OF EUROPEAN ASSAULTS, WARNS TOP EXPERT, published on Saturday, the paper goes on to report that Britain ‘is facing imminent migrant sex attacks‘ according to security expert Professor Anthony Glees.
But the information in the headline and opening paragraph greatly exaggerates what is actually said.
Professor Glees, who is the director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at Buckingham University, is actually quoted as saying ‘there is no immediate threat to us in the UK.‘
He goes on to express concern about lack of screening of asylum-seekers elsewhere in Europe who could then travel to Britain ‘after a few years‘ due to EU regulations. But nowhere in the article does he say that Britain faces experiencing what happened in Cologne and elsewhere, either imminently or later down the line.
The article, rather than being a useful piece of news reporting, exists purely to spread fear of asylum-seekers as well as to push the paper’s own anti-EU agenda.
It is also an exercise in one-sided reporting. Professor Glees may well be a ‘top expert‘ as the headline bellows, but his is the only opinion sought in the article. It would also appear that Prof. Glees is something of a go-to academic for right-wing tabloids, having recently called Germany a ‘hippie state‘ and written a piece in the Daily Mail criticising the ‘liberal elite‘.
Obviously this is a tabloid news article and not peer-reviewed social research, but to gather information from just the one source most likely to confirm your preconceptions and then exaggerate on what is said is not good journalistic practice.
But in the world of tabloid newspapers, accurately reporting the news comes secondary to selling newspapers and influencing public opinion and there are a range of methods that all these publications use – among them sensationalism, demonisation of certain groups or individuals, and creating a climate of fear.
Spreading fear is the forte of the Daily Express, whose readers must be masochists who enjoy being told day after day about the terrible things that lie in wait for them. For a supposed newspaper, a lot of what the Express writes is speculation on what will happen rather than reporting on what has happened or is happening (as with the article discussed here).
This gives them more scope to ramp up the fear factor – deadly disease on the way, extreme weather coming to bring the country to a standstill, nightmare terror attack around the corner, hordes of migrants on their way to take your jobs and commit crime.
Unsurprisingly for a paper that supports UKIP, The Express is not very keen on immigration. This is what comes up if you type ‘Daily Express immigrants images’ into Google.
Obviously we expect news reports to not shy away from the facts, even when they may be uncomfortable ones, and it’s true that 18 of the 31 New Years Eve attackers are reported to be asylum-seekers of North African and Arabic origin. This has implications for a number of things including the asylum process in EU countries.
But we cannot deal with the situation by targeting all those seeking asylum – or all those from certain countries – or by spreading scare stories which are going to cause unnecessary panic and make things worse. We’ve been here before in the 1970s when tabloids created a similar climate of fear by linking male African-Caribbean immigrants to mugging and street violence, despite actual incidences being much lower than readers were lead to believe.
The irresponsible and inaccurate journalism often found in the Daily Express and its counterparts only serves to heighten fear and prejudice in society. It may be deemed a good ‘business model‘ and suit the proprietors who make a profit out of newspaper sales, but it is of no benefit to society as a whole.
Link to Daily Express article: http://www.donotlink.com/hum7