A few days ago we posted a criticism of the Good Morning Scotland newspaper review after it featured the front page of The Herald newspaper as its lead. The front page was based on the ‘pigeon bug’ story.
We suggested that the newspaper had been selected, not randomly, but deliberately and that the choice was political. We suggested a rota system for newspapers would ensure every newspaper got to lead the item and that stories featured would play no part in determining which newspaper fatured first.
Our criticism prompted GMS presenter Gary Robertson to respond.
The implication of his tweet was that GMS rotated newspapers regularly and there was no political motivation when determining which would lead the item.
So we decided to carry out some analysis of the GMS newspaper review. We looked at which newspapers and stories had led the review each day during a three week period between January 7th and January 24th.
The analysis was interesting. We found that the newspaper which featured most was The Scotsman. It led the item three times. The Herald and The Times enjoyed first spot twice. A host of other newspapers appeared once each.
The Scotsman – 3
The Herald – 2
The Times – 2
Daily Mail – 1
Daily Express – 1
Daily Record – 1
The National – 1
The i – 1
The FT – 1
The Guardian – 1
Daily Mirror – 1
Only one story could be considered non-political. The Daily Mirror led the GMS newspaper review on January 18th with its front page story about Prince Philip’s car crash. Every other front page story was political. We’ve listed them below.
7th Daily Mail – Doctors appointments
8th The Times – Brexit
9th The Herald – Salmond/Sturgeon
10th The Times – Tory rebels
11th Daily Express – Sturgeon smear
14th The Scotsman – Sturgeon smear
15th The National – Brexit
16th The Guardian – May vote defeat
17th The Scotsman – May vote defeat
18th Daily Mirror – Prince Philip crash
21st The FT – May Brexit
22nd The i – May cabinet
23rd The Daily Record – Pigeon bug
24th The Herald – Pigeon bug
25th The Scotsman – Pigeon bug
The analysis highlighted something we hadn’t been aware of. Brexit related stories tended to mean English based newspapers would lead the newspaper review segment. The ‘i’, The FT, The Guardian and The Times were all given the top spot whenever Brexit was the story. Only The National and The Scotsman led the GMS review when they had Brexit stories on their front page.
Scottish based newspapers were chosen to lead the segment when they carried purely Scottish political stories. In the three week period, The Herald and The Scotsman featured as the lead newspaper twice each. The stories were damaging to the SNP.
During the fifteen day period, newspapers with anti-SNP stories on their front pages were chosen to lead the GMS review six times. The Salmond issue featured three times and the heavily politicised ‘pigeon bug’ story also featured three times.
GMS chose the Daily Record ‘pigeon bug’ story to lead its newspaper review segment on Wednesday 23rd. It chose The Herald ‘pigeon bug’ story on Thursday 24th and The Scotsman ‘pigeon bug’ on Friday 25th.
The analysis also highlighted a tendency for GMS presenters to summarise those politicised Scottish stories in some detail and at some length. The summaries become news items in themselves. Below is an example from January 25th where the summary lasts forty two seconds.
Compare that to the very brief summary of The National front page from January 15th which merited twelve seconds.
It’s also noteworthy that, over the three week period and aside from the benign mention above, The National didn’t lead any newspaper reviews when it carried front pages that most would consider damaging to Unionist parties or helpful to independence.
For example on January 24th GMS chose The Herald’s ‘pigeon bug’ front page to lead the review despite the ‘pigeon bug’ story having led the review the day before.
The National front page on the 24th followed a meeting between the Prime Minister and the First Minister and was both highly topical and relevant to Scotland. Why wasn’t it chosen to lead the newspaper review? Was it because it the political nature of the front page didn’t match BBC Scotland’s agenda?
The analysis suggests there is a tendency to ignore the Scottish angle whenever Brexit dominates the news. English based newspaper front pages will lead the review.
There is a tendency to promote Scottish newspapers whenever they carry front pages that most would consider damaging to the SNP. These front pages are often summarised in great detail.
The National newspaper isn’t selected to lead the review segment when it carries strong pro-independence front pages. The newspaper receives the briefest of summaries and sometimes isn’t featured in the revew at all.
The Scotsman and The Herald are favoured when compared to other Scottish titles.
This analysis isn’t scientific. It covers only three weeks. However it does suggest there are political motivations at play when determining which newspaper front pages feature first in the Good Morning Scotland newspaper review.