Brexit, the referendum that occurred on July 23rd, 2016 with the British people voting for a “British Exit” of the European Union, left the world shocked and grappling to come to terms with what had happened. Global markets became turmoil with the British pound falling to its lowest level in decades, leaving British citizens remorseful and demanding a new referendum. With people googling “What is the EU?” hours after the significant decision was confirmed, this raises critical questions on the referendum and who was to blame for this misinformation and the final outcome.
— GoogleTrends (@GoogleTrends) June 24, 2016
Media acts as the main source of information for citizens, where it becomes a platform that provides information for citizens to make informed decisions and engage in political debate. Did the media do their job before the vote of the referendum? Were their newspapers and main media corporations sufficiently covering facts that British citizens needed to be well informed? Were they impartial and providing both sides of the story or were they only providing information that reflected only one sided political views?
The Sun has the largest daily circulation within the United Kingdom, with 5,599,000 people tuning in regularly. However, prior to the referendum, the Sun was also the largest advocate for leaving the European Union and made it particularly clear to the British public. On the 22nd June, the day before the referendum, they posted an article with the headline: “BREXIT FACTOR: 10 reasons why choosing Brexit on June 23 is a vote for a stronger, better Britain”, stating that “Leaving the EU will save our sovereignty, rein in migration and boost our economy”. Another article on the same day was posted with the headline: “’VOTE WITH YOUR HEART’: Nigel Farage in passionate plea to non-voters to help make tomorrow Britain’s Independence Day”. Typing in “European Union” in their search bar comes up with multiple articles in a supportive tone of the referendum, with articles discussing those that are against the referendum few and far between.
Along with supportive headlines that highlight how The Sun was a clear advocate for the referendum and leaving the European Union, there were many articles forming a negative assumption of the European Union, focusing particularly on migration which has been a topic dominating international headlines, and a notable factor in why citizens wanted to leave. On the 22nd June, The Sun posted an article: “MIGRANT SHAMBLES: EU ‘has surrendered complete control of its borders to people smugglers” and on the 13th June they posted an article: “MIGRATION CRISIS: Staggering figures reveal five million migrants have become EU citizens in just six years”. Is this impartial? What message are they really trying to send?
The mission statement of The Sun and NewsCorp is: “Newscorp is a network of leading companies in the worlds of diversified media, news, education, and information services”. Have they really achieved this during the Brexit referendum? With over one million people demanding change to the EU referendum and wanting a second vote, after realising the real impact their vote had, this emphasises a resounding no. The British media and the tone it had regarding Brexit lead British citizens to make decisions that were misinformed, with many Newspapers and citizens changing their tones as the severity of leaving the EU hit in.
Sad times for UK & EU 🙁 Whilst still respecting people’s wishes, I wonder how many regret their vote now that #Brexit has become a reality?
— Jessica Johnson (@ajjohnson100) June 25, 2016
#brexit .. Grass is greener on the other side of the fence ? … Does not look very green to me 🙁
— Scott (@scottchamb1966) June 25, 2016