Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Politics Home

Although it can be a useful enough resource, if used cautiously, there is a strong leftward emphasis at Politics Home. This manifests itself in the way a lot of their articles are presented (one might almost say slanted), the sometimes rather odd nature of their own polling, and the now hand-picked "Phi wire" links running across the top.

I was alerted to all this by what I have read on a few other blogs during the past year or so, and the last of the above features is perhaps the most interesting. When the feed was from the "top 100 blogs" there was no further control over what was being linked to. Now there is that editorial control, and someone there can opt to allow a link or not. This leads to distinctly lop-sided results. For one simple example: only occasionally does any of top political blogger Iain Dale's posts get linked. Most do not. Why?

Only the five latest five thus selected links appear on the public "Phi Wire" nowadays, and this, funnily enough, makes it easier to see the site editor's intentions in the way they select posts. One can look for the political direction of each linked post, in some of which instances is obvious from the edge colour shown there, though not all (e.g. the media links) are thus colour-coded. We all know which papers have what slant, though, don't we?

By watching throughout the day, one can easily see a pattern. Of the five latest selection, there will almost always be a majority that are from the political left: 3 to 2, 4 to 1, occasionally all five will be from the left. The most-covered newspaper is the Guardian, by a long way. There is rarely, if ever, anything from the Mail ot the Sun, but plenty from the Mirror. The other papers (and bloggers) are still putting out as much, equally good, material as ever, as is easy to spot-check at those media websites at any time. I have done so myself on a number of occasions.

During the Labour conference last week, the pattern was the same, and during this week's Conservative conference, it's still that way round, more often than not critical of the Tories' policies being announced there. It was just the same before the election, by the way, so that isn't anything to do with it either (i.e. which party is/was in government).

Thus the only consistency is in the "Phi Wire" editor/selector's bias, and it becomes very obvious if one watches the feed. I might spend a day logging every single link and listing them here, with times, all colour-coded, after the conference season has ended. I think that would be an illuminating exercise!

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