The Listening Post

Examining the British election drama

A media post-mortem into the UK’s general election; plus, a wiretapping scandal that has gripped Macedonia’s media.

On May 7, 2015, the UK voted and the incumbent Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative Party won a majority. It was a result that no-one had expected. The polls predicted another coalition government and most news outlets reported it as a neck-and-neck race right up until the end.

The media have played a big role in this election and once again media ownership has been a crucial factor.

British newspapers are predominantly owned by a few wealthy individuals who lean to the political right. The press tends to set the talking points in the country and the broadcast media follows suit. It is a formula that holds huge sway on both political coverage and public opinion. With a majority Conservative government now leading the country, the next five years could spell significant change for the British media.

Talking us through the story this week is Guardian journalist Zoe Williams; the managing editor of the Sun newspaper, Stig Abell; author Dan Hind; and professor of journalism, George Brock.

Other stories on our radar this week: A former CIA officer is jailed for sharing classified information with a New York Times journalist; Al Jazeera is sued by its former Cairo bureau chief, Mohamed Fahmy, for $100m and another blogger is murdered in Bangladesh – the third this year.

Macedonia’s wiretapping scandal

Over the past three months, the republic of Macedonia has been dealing with a political crisis that has revealed a lot about its media. The main opposition party has accused the government of carrying out an illegal surveillance programme over a four-year period which saw the wiretapping of more than 20,000 people, including more than 100 journalists.

The government has denied the allegations saying that the recordings are fabricated and the state-owned broadcaster, MRT, refused to air or publish the tapes until they were verified. The opposition says that MRT has turned into a government mouthpiece and that it refuses to have the opposition leader on its air, a claim MRT denies.

In this week’s feature, The Listening Post’s Flo Phillips looks at the wiretapping scandal that is being dubbed “The Truth about Macedonia”.

Breaking into journalism has never been an easy task but there is now a growing number of those in the profession who see it as a ‘dumb career move’. A few months ago, British financial journalist, Felix Salmon served up some career advice to aspiring journalists and the long and short of it was: don’t bother. The mock letter made the rounds online and created a healthy debate so for our endnote we got him in front of a camera to deliver his “advice” on screen.