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February 8, 2017updated 14 Feb 2017 4:00pm

One in three Britons think press ‘too negative’ in reports on refugees and immigrants, YouGov survey shows

By Freddy Mayhew

One in three Britons see the UK news media as being “too negative” in its coverage of refugee and immigration issues, while more than half say reports on the issue are “inaccurate”, according to a YouGov poll.

Out of 1,694 UK adults surveyed, more than a third (34 per cent) said the press was “too negative” in answer to the question: “To what extent do you think the media in Britain is too positive or too negative about refugee and immigration issues or does it have the balance about right?”

About a fifth said the press either gets the balance “about right” or that coverage is “too positive” on the issue. “Don’t know” was also an option.

A total of 29 per cent of Britons said news coverage was, generally speaking, “too right wing” on the issue of refugees and immigration, compared to 24 per cent who said it was “too left wing” and 18 per cent who said it was “about the right balance”.

On the matter of accuracy in reporting on refugees and asylum seekers, more than half of Britons (53 per cent) said they thought coverage was either fairly or very inaccurate.

Fifty-one per cent said reporting in the media about ethnic minorities was “inaccurate” alongside 55 per cent for news coverage of immigrants.

On average, more Britons see the UK news media as leaning too much to the right than the left on five key issues: health, refugees and immigration, crime, the economy and housing.

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The proportion is the highest among seven European nations, with a proportion of adults from France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland also surveyed.

The poll took place over a week in February, 2016, with pool sizes for the other counties ranging from 610 to 2,041 people.

Source: YouGov

Respondents were asked: “Generally speaking, do you think the media in [country] is too right wing or too left wing when reporting on the following issues, or does it have the balance about right?”

On average out of the five areas, more than a fifth (26 per cent) of British people are more likely than any other country to see the media as leaning towards the right, according to analysis by YouGov.

Once the percentages for the media being biased to the left are subtracted, Britain’s media is viewed as having a right-wing bias in all five areas, most of all on economics, with a net 15 per cent skew to the right.

Source: YouGov

Finland’s press is seen as having similar levels of right-wing bias, but in most of the other countries the media is seen as being more faithful to the left.

About a quarter to a third of British people say the media gets the right balance on each issue, but there are always more people who say the press favours the right than the left.

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