On May 7, millions of people will go to the polls and vote in the 2015 general election. But how will your vote have been influenced by the media?
Broadcasters, websites and newspapers; they have much more influence over your vote than you might think...
It's on the TV so it must be true
It seems you can’t turn on the TV without seeing politicians out and about, making speeches and more importantly meeting voters. What you don’t see is that the majority of encounters shown on TV are carefully stage-managed – with no detail left to chance.
Sometimes this is done by the broadcasters. They need a story they can sell to the public so an audience’s questions are often vetted by the broadcast team to ensure it fits within their narrative. More often things will be managed behind the scenes by the parties themselves. For example, the recent BBC interviews with the party leaders where the politicians chose the location, in this case inside their homes… you know portraying the whole “caring, loving family man” character.
Vice News takes us behind the scenes of the political spin machine...
Political spin: You spin me right round
Political spin is a magic trick - making you believe something that didn't actually happen.
Take any major political event – eg the leaders’ debates. The different parties seem to disagree over the result.
Read their version of events and you’ll go away thinking their candidate was the winner. Until you hear or read the other side of the story. Politicians run around the “spin room” where the journalists write-up the day’s events. They attempt to get sound bites and points of view embedded into the news as quickly as possible.
Rule of political spin: Make sure you get your story in first. Most politicians are so obvious when “spinning a story” that it’s easy enough to see through what they are doing. It’s harder to spot when you’re hearing it from a source you trust...
Political spin-doctors often use social media as a tool to release images, statements and attacks on their rivals. When you see these it’s often because they’ve been shared by someone you know. You may not trust the political party – but you trust your mate to have shared or re-tweeted a good article. And so you read it. Like it. Share it. And so it continues…
These pieces are filled with short phrases such as “Long Term Economic Plan” “Coalition of Chaos” and “Britain succeeds when working people succeed” which can be easily repeated and shared. #RepeatEnoughTimesAndPeopleWillBelieveIt
Political spin: So don't believe everything you read...
Newspapers support different political parties. Most of the time who they pick is decided by whoever owns the newspaper.
Case study: Rupert Murdoch
Murdoch owns News Corporation – the company that ultimately owns The Sunday Times and The Sun. Murdoch has been linked to David Cameron several times, and in 2012 it came out that the pair had met five more times than Cameron has previously admitted. The Sunday Times has now backed the Conservatives. See how it works?
In another case The Telegraph published a letter from 100 top business leaders who gave support to David Cameron. The Telegraph has backed the Conservatives. In retaliation, Labour published an open letter from 100 “working people” who want Ed Miliband as PM. This was sent to The Guardian, a newspaper which has now told people to vote Labour.
I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing a pattern here...