By Alem Fisshatzion,
THERE is no doubt in my mind that it would be easier for a leopard to change its spots than for the Swedish media to change its bias stance against Eritrea. It is no secret that media in Sweden is in general a very bias within its own echelons, and very much so, depending on its party colors.
In a debate article in Aftonbladet on 8th July 2005, one Lars Nord, a researcher on mass media at the faculty for democracy at Mittuniversitetet wrote: “The mass media are not bias”, but quickly goes on to add: “but the winner has a higher news value than the looser”.
According to Nord, the myth that Swedish mass media systematically exercises political bias is brought to light every once in a while. This is the case when Social Democrats claim to be trampled upon by Conservative-affiliated Daily Newspapers; or when Conservatives lament that the State-owned Sveriges Radio let Left-affiliated journalists’ values fill the airwaves. To one point in the debate article, Nord argues that Mass-media research in Sweden shows very few signs of ideological miss-match in Swedish news journalism, but unfortunately, there is a grave silence about the structural bias in the journalism itself. This is a significantly bigger problem than the ideological bias, according to Nord. He explains that structural bias means that certain political parties, or candidates are given greater advantage or edge in mass media. That is not because they belong to a special party-political color, but rather that they are perceived as being more “news-worthy” and just happen to pass very well in the news story at the moment.
Year 2010 was election year in Sweden. On 23rd August 2010, Goteborgs Posten, a Swedish daily paper featured an article in its “Politik” section: “Left-wing journalists and Right-wing mass media?” According to that article, the authors tell us that there are presumptions both on the Right-wing and Left-wing of Swedish politics that Swedish mass media and Swedish journalism are not politically neutral; and the mutual belief is that mass media and journalism are on the side of the opposition. The story concludes that in reality, the journalistic content is more-or-less controlled by “media logic” or by mass media’s need for “exciting stories”.
On 18 March 2013, The State-owned Swedish Radio and Television services itself featured an opinion article with the headline: “SVT and SR, Time to own up on your Party affiliations” on their website. Gustav Nipe, chairman of the organization “Ung Pirat” pondered on Public service in relation to mass media’s bias. Nipe questions the phenomenon bias reporting. According to him, while public disgust against journalists was on the rise, SR and SVT adamantly refused to acknowledge their own responsibility in the ensuing developments. The bitter message in that opinion debate is that: “it is of course absurd to demand political affiliation classification among employed journalists, but if SVT and SR wanted to maintain their trustworthiness, then it was high time that the affected newsrooms were honest about their shortcomings in the issue of bias.
In conclusion: SVT and SR must stop assuming the illusion that Public Service has an own edge against other facets of mass media on the issue of bias.
Very much like George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” where the elite of the animal revolution under the leadership of Snowball the pig gave themselves privileges under the slogan “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.
All this goes to show that Swedish journalism, even in its own turf is far from being the bastion of trust, objectivity and fair play it claims. The systematic trend in mass media is to hate Eritrea, period!
Woebegone anyone who tries to bring to light any real factual or objective article or debate about Eritrea in Swedish media!
I got this rude awakening when I tried to reply to an article about Eritrea and Eritrean “refugees” in Sweden posted recently by a Stefan Hill in Svenska Dagbladet, one of Sweden’s bigger dailies. The article was riddled with the usual worn-out clichés, distortions, lies and myths about Eritrea. That is what the Swedish reader has been fed with over the years, and that is what is expected on the articles mushrooming about Eritrea, and that is what the national indoctrination on Eritrea encourages.
A few days after sending my reply to Svenska Dagbladet, I got a short but very cold email notification that they had indeed received my article but refrain from publishing it. A few days earlier, I had also written an article about the boat migrants in their mass exodus from Africa in their quest for economically greener pastures in Europe.
I challenged the Swedish authorities in that article to rather assume their responsibility than use the opportune tragic situation to try to lure Eritrean youth with guarantees of political asylum in their pretext to the nation that they were helping distressed Eritrean dissidents to a free haven in Sweden. That article is yet to find a paper brave or objective enough to publish it.
The trend continues…