The facts, opinions and the role of the media

By Terry Mason,2014-07-09 00:26
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The facts, opinions and the role of the media

Activity 4: The facts, opinions

    and the role of the media

    Background, organisation and resources

    The „facts‟ of migration are hard to pin down, and they do vary from place to place. When people feel threatened, it is easy to convince them that other groups are receiving preferential treatment. Many people get their information, whether accurate or not, from newspapers. In this activity, young people examine different newspaper reports and consider how they differ, what impact each might have and the responsibility of the press in helping to maintain a cohesive society. You will need copies of the question sheet, „Newspapers and migration‟, the extracts from the articles from the Daily Mail and the

    Guardian websites and copies of the interviews with young Eastern Europeans.

Aims of the activity

    ; To enable participants to compare the approaches that different newspaper take to

    different issues

    ; To encourage participants to consider the implications of newspaper articles on

    community cohesion.

Targeted QCA learning objectives

    ; Analyse sources of information, identify bias and draw conclusions

    ; Consider the social, moral and ethical issues applying to a particular situation ; Discuss and debate citizenship issues.


    Stage 1

    Ask participants to work in small groups. Give out the sheet „Newspapers and migration‟

    (page 24), and the two extracts from different newspapers. If possible, provide access to the internet so that young people can read the two articles in full. Ask the groups to discuss the questions on the sheet and find more examples on the internet of newspaper articles on this topic, for example:

    Daily Mirror „Migrants in ?6bn boost‟

    Independent „Home Office: migrants work harder, earn more and pay more tax than


    The Times „Migrants in Britain – the official verdict‟

Stage 2

    Ask young people to read the Guardian article: „On the margins‟ by Patrick Barkham,

    about life in the Fens available on,,2177313,00.html

    This article presents a picture from a different angle, suggesting that some migrants suffer some discrimination and injustice. Why is this view less common in newspapers? Moving forward together: citizenship learning for community cohesion Activity 4

    Give out copies of the interviews with young migrants. Ask participants to write a balanced account of the situation for Eastern Europeans working in this country today.

Stage 3

    Newspapers generate many myths and stereotypes. Read the following to the young people:

Newspapers often provide „stereotypes‟ of people. These are negative caricatures of

    people who belong to an identified group. Recent stereotypes used by newspapers are „hoodies‟, „yobs‟, „football hooligans‟, „asylum seekers‟, „crinklies‟. The people who are seen as fitting into these groups are all supposed to behave in the same way. Stereotypes are only successful when people don‟t know each other and they have no information to argue against the stereotype; they can cause fear of strangers and undermine community cohesion. Here is an example from a local newspaper message board:

Posted by: Jaynee, Parkstone on 9:43am Wed 3rd October 2007

    We really have to get tough on the yobs and the parents! I’m fed up with these yobs hanging around the streets causing aggravation and mayhem! Why should we allow them to take over! We need more Police on the streets at night and they need to actually do something. I was shocked on Saturday to see the War Memorial in Bournemouth being used as a play park by the local hoodies, they were laying all over it, smoking and drinking cider! Why are they not moved off!

    Comment on article „Parents Must Act‟ in Bournemouth Echo, 3rd October 2007

    Ask young people to identify other common newspaper „panics‟ and to find examples of them from national and local newspapers from the internet. They should choose a common stereotype, find examples of it in newspaper articles, and investigate how it is used in their own area. They should talk to some of the people who appear to fit the stereotype and find out what they think about being portrayed in this way.

Assessment opportunities

    ; Analyse sources of information, identify bias and draw conclusions: staff feedback on

    activities in stages 1 and 2

    ; Consider the social, moral and ethical issues applying to a particular situation: self-

    assessment of understanding of issues relating to stereotypes in stage 2 ; Discuss and debate citizenship issues: peer assessment of skills used in discussion

    in stage 1.

    Moving forward together: citizenship learning for community cohesion Activity 4

Newspapers and migration

Migration fact file

    ; 400,000 people left the UK in 2006, of whom 207,000 were British citizens. The rest

    were non-British and had been in the country for more than one year. ; 591,000 people arrived in 2006 to live in the UK for at least a year. ; There were 447,000 applicants to the Worker Registration Scheme nationwide from

    foreign workers between May 1, 2004 and June 30, 2006.

    ; The main occupations for migrant workers nationally are banking and finance (13%),

    hotel work (12%), administration, catering, manufacturing, food processing, public

    transport, construction, cleaning, and agriculture.

    ; The majority of migrant workers are young. Eighty two per cent are between 18 and

    34 years and 93% have no dependants living with them in the UK.

    ; Eight new central and eastern European countries joined the European Union (EU) on 1

    May 2004. They were Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland,

    Slovakia and Slovenia. Bulgaria and Romania also joined on 1 January 2007.

     Sources: Home Office, June 2006; ‘The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Immigration’,

    Home Office and Department for Work and pensions, October 2007; Office of National Statistics, November 2007

    Newspapers report the same news in very different ways. We have freedom of the press in this country, and newspapers usually adopt an „editorial policy‟ that determines the opinions expressed in the paper. We all know this, and most people buy the paper that they will agree with.

    But it is important that we know how to analyse newspaper articles and recognise when opinion is influencing „fact‟. Most news items are a mixture of „good‟ and „bad‟ news, but newspapers can decide which bits of the story to emphasise.

    Compare the extracts from the two newspaper articles. They were both published on the same day, and were based on the same government reports quoted above. However, they have taken entirely different approaches to the story.

    Find and read the two full articles on the newspaper websites (using the web addresses given with the extracts) and discuss the following questions within your groups: ; What aspects of the two stories are similar?

    ; What aspects are different?

    ; How are the two articles differently reported?

    ; What value position does each newspaper have towards migrants?

    ; What might be the different impacts of the two articles?

    Find other examples of newspaper articles on the same issue and decide what position the paper has taken.

    Moving forward together: citizenship learning for community cohesion Activity 4

    Government finally admits: Immigration IS placing huge strain on Britain

    By James Slack

    Immigrants are placing a huge strain on public services, Labour finally admitted. Crime is up, schools are struggling to cope with Eastern European children, community tensions are rising, health services are coming under enormous pressure and house prices are being driven up, the Government said. The findings, based on a survey of public sector workers, are the first published by ministers after ten years of an „open door‟ immigration policy.

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said it was clear communities were „unsettled‟ – and a

    „new balance‟ should be struck between the needs of the economy and society in general.

    The report, to be presented to the Government‟s new Migration Impacts Forum today, fails to put a figure on the full cost to society of mass immigration which is increasing the

    population by 200,000 every year.

    A Home Office study found that migrants helped to grow the economy by ?6 billion last year. But experts said this did not mean they had boosted GDP per head, a crucial measure.

Extracts from article in the Daily Mail, 17th October 2007

Migrants are a boon to UK economy,

    says study

    Alan Travis, home affairs editor

    Migrants are more skilled and often more reliable and hardworking than British workers, and are fuelling the country‟s economic growth to the tune of ?6bn a year, according to the first official study of their impact published yesterday.

The report for the government‟s Migration Impact Forum also concludes that migrants on

    average earn more and so pay more tax than UK workers.

    The joint Treasury, Home Office and Work and Pensions study says that the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Polish and other east European workers has had “no discernible” impact on unemployment and has led to only a “modest dampening of wage growth” for British workers at the bottom end of the earnings league.

    The first „regional‟ soundings by the government also published today show that in seven out of eight regions in England migration has caused pressure on housing and five out of eight regions report difficulties on crime and education. However, the overwhelmingly positive official verdict of the economic and fiscal impact of the largest wave of migration to Britain in recent years is bound to prove highly controversial.

Extracts from article in the Guardian, 17 October 2007

Moving forward together: citizenship learning for community cohesion Activity 4

Two migrants‟ stories

    I am 28 and living in Bodmin, Cornwall. I came here from Sintra near Lisbon in Portugal, where I lived with my wife and children in my mother‟s house. We were very poor. I earned very low wages and we never had any money for anything. If it

    wasn‟t for my mum, we would not have had enough money to eat.

As a family we decided to look for a better life in England and I am now working as a

    production operative in a meat factory. The pay is good, but it is heavy and dirty

    work. We work shifts four hours on and four hours off, so I have to work at night and can‟t spend so much time with my family. I like Cornwall because it is similar to the place I came from in Portugal, although I don‟t like the weather so much. I am

    glad that I can give my children a better life on the wages that I now earn.

    Some Cornish people are very cold towards the Portuguese people and that is not good. When I first came here, we lived in a caravan park. One day my car broke

    down, and the recovery guy charged us ?350 more for towing the car than the actual price, because at this time we didn‟t know enough English. We just paid because we didn‟t want to lose the car. We also had to move our daughter to a different school because everyone just ignored her.

However, I have a lot of friends now, some English and some Portuguese. Also my

    brothers and my Mum live here too. We have dinner parties, play football, walk and play in the park with the children. I like to watch television and use the Play Station. I

    am planning to stay in England and I am saving money to buy a house. Maybe I will one day be able to buy a nice house in Portugal and go back to enjoy my retirement.

I am 26 years old and I come from the eastern part of Poland. I studied law and film

    history in the beautiful Polish city of Krakow and I have come to London to continue my studies at Westminster Film School.

    I live with my girlfriend in a small studio flat in West Hampstead. The area is perfect for us and the flat is cosy, but it is very expensive, and we had bedbugs, which were horrible! The cost of living in London is ridiculously high. I work part-time as a video

    editor in a small post-production company and I enjoy this work very much. I would like to find something more ambitious in the same field, and better paid.

    I like working and studying in London because it is the best place in the world to start a career in the media industry and I have close relationships with my colleagues at work. I don‟t have many British friends. Londoners are friendly on the surface, but sometimes you realise that, behind the mask, they are not treating you as an equal.

    I intend to stay in London for another two years and then move to Spain because it is the dream destination of my girlfriend.

Moving forward together: citizenship learning for community cohesion Activity 4

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