PAUL MASON: For years, Paul Mason was the economics correspondent/editor of Newsnight. He was part of a team lead by the programme’s ex-Guardian editor, Ian Katz, and News-watch has assembled over the years evidence that pro-EU slant has been a serious problem, especially, for example, on the day that David Cameron announced that the EU referendum would take place (back in January 2013), when the programme line-up was 18 pro-EU figures ranged against one ‘outer’ – predictably, Nigel Farage. The suspicion is that there is a BBC/Newsnight ‘mindset’ in play that is deeply liberal-left. So what has Mason done since leaving Newsnight? He’s surfaced as a Labour party ‘adviser’ and is also writing articles for the Guardian on his political beliefs. A thorough analysis of his views is here. In a nutshell, Mason emerges as a died-in-the-wool, old-fashioned Marxist who is still chanting 30-year-old hard-left, anti-Thatcher rhetoric. The BBC claim, of course, that all their journalists leave their prejudices at home – but the track record of Newsnight, and its early pro-EU approach to reporting the referendum debate, reported elsewhere on the News-watch site, suggest strongly otherwise.
BIASED AGENDA? How does the Today programme arrive at its coverage agenda? Clearly, there are certain ‘hard’ breaking news stories such as the death of icons such as David Bowie it feels it can’t ignore. But other choices are much less obvious. This morning the programme chose an item angled on a report from the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) which suggested that Brexit would lead to increases in food prices and seriously negative impacts on the nation’s farmers. The report was commissioned by the NFU from an agricultural intelligence unit based at the university of Wageningen, and was projected as unbiased. A moment’s digging, however, on the unit’s website shows that it has received significant funding from the EU, both for specific research projects and for exchange schemes involving academics and students. The issue here is the extent that Today should tell its audiences about such connections. It is against BBC editorial guidelines not to do so.