A conference organised by “The UK in a Changing Europe” (ukandeu.ac.uk) on 8 February provided a rare occasion for leading journalists, broadcasters, and academics to exchange experiences and views on how the EU is reported in the UK and the challenges of reporting EU news.
In the second panel, addressing the question of how well the UK media covers the EU news, Cardiff University’s Mike Berry argued that BBC coverage is mainly reactive and focuses on divisions between and within the Conservative and Labour Parties. According to Adam Boulton, the EU is of interest to viewers and Sky News has the balance about right. Looking at the print media Charles Clarke took a somewhat different view. He argued that the main prism through which British newspapers report European issues is ‘the UK versus the EU’ a message reinforced by a sense of UK weakness in the EU. He added: ‘The virulence of the way in which papers like the Mail and the Sun at various times have sought to set the agenda on the EU issue does infect the British political debate in a very damaging way’, though did not rule out the Sun supporting the remain campaign. Mark English, Head of Media at the European Commission Representation in London, thought that the UK media was no worse than in other member state. Will Moy from Full Fact expressed a similar sentiment on one of the day’s most memorable observations: ‘The job of the British media in relation to the European Union seems to me to be to describe the indescribable to the indifferent. Given that’s a pretty tough gig, I don’t think they’re doing that bad a job of it’