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Brexit

A Complex Divide

Looking Back

As I eluded to in my post which published by documentary here – I certainly feel as if I have learnt a lot during the process of putting together my documentary. Many areas have been challenging, but all of the areas that I’ve delved into have been enjoyable and rewarding.

Firstly – the interview process. If you ask anyone on a course similar to mine, arranging interviews are always a bit of a challenge. Not only is identifying an appropriate interviewee sometimes difficult, but the process of arranging the interview itself is frequently a minefield of things that can trip you up. However, I was very pleased in the process of this documentary the response I had from those I interviewed. I think the somewhat unique manner of it, exploring the media’s representation of Brexit, may in all truth played a part in it. I wanted to give those who’s voice had somewhat been disrespected or unfairly stereotypes a chance to put the record straight so to speak. The fact that I managed to do this is one of the most pleasing aspects of the production process.

In the process of filming and presenting the documentary, I was again reasonably pleased with my own performance so to. Having had some feedback following my first draft of the documentary, I made the decision to redesign and re-film my introduction. It was a bit weak looking back on it, whereas my second attempt was a lot cleaner, a lot nicer looking in the edit and featured substantially more balance than my initial effort. Given the hours that had already gone in to making my first draft it was not an easy decision. I do believe the final introduction sets the narrative well for the rest of the piece. I certainly feel the graphics and the editing when I introduce my interviewees is a lot stronger than how I originally designed it, which is very nice to look back upon.

I’ll definitely acknowledge that my own strengths lie in the filming and presenting of a piece – as opposed to the eventual editing. I’ve always been competent when it comes to the cutting room but I do not think that my own skills prior to the documentary were of the standard needed to produce an engaging seven minute piece on my own. I worked hard and I’m delighted with some aspects of my editing. In particular how I’ve designed my interviewee introduction screens, the blur effect used on a letter and the cuts during the interviews look a lot more professional than they would’ve done six months ago. This is all due to the hours I spent learning these skills and then putting them into practice – so it’s been a very rewarding challenge for me, with results I’m proud of.

There are perhaps a couple of areas that were weak and I wanted to acknowledge this in this piece. I think perhaps my introduction could’ve been recorded in a more politically relevant area (for example, outside of Parliament would’ve looked great in hindsight.) I also think the transitions between interviews could’ve been a bit stronger looking back upon them. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to acknowledge these shortcomings publicly. I am always aiming to learn as a journalist and do things to the best of my ability. If I had a bit more time with this project for example these are definitely the areas I’d be looking to focus on to improve my final piece.

It’s definitely been a long old road this documentary. It’s been hard, it’s taken a lot of time and it’s fair to say has been quite stressful getting it to the point where it is now. I can look back it with great pride however. I’ve done the best I could on this piece – and I hope the feedback I get from anyone who watches this will reflect this.

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My Final Documentary!

After many months of preparation, execution and particularly editing – my final cut of my documentary is here. It’s been a long but hugely rewarding period of time, in which I’ve learn a lot – not just in a journalistic manner, but also about our society as a whole. You can read more about my thoughts on the project as a whole here.

Interview Profile – Anthony Zahra

Name – Anthony Zahra

Role – Representative of the media

Reason for interview – Obviously I did not think it was fair to accuse some areas of the media of being bias against the Leave campaign without getting the opinions of a member of the media to counter this. Interviewing Anthony helped to give me a bigger understanding towards the approach the media had when covering Brexit. It surprised me to see just how big of a story it was, arguably the biggest in a number of years. Now obviously changing the political landscape of a country was absolutely massive but I was amazed to hear about the hours of work that had gone in to ensure the coverage was as fair and as accurate as possible.

It was incredibly interesting to see Anthony directly contrast what had been said by Conor Burns and Priti Patel – as it showed rather effectively that no one appears to be taking a responsibility for the increase in the divide between the two sides of the referendum ever since the result. This was arguably one of the biggest discoveries I saw in this documentary.

Key quote –

“You also need to bare in mind how the politicians are playing this out. When the Prime Minister stands up and says the main issue here is the free movement of people and one of the biggest concerns is immigration and the debate in the House of Parliament is about limiting immigration – that’s where the lines are coming from.”

Interview Profile – Conor Burns MP

Name – Conor Burns.

Role – As a leave campaigning Member of Parliament.

Reason for interview – I looked to interview Mr Burns in order to receive some insight surrounding the political decision making and the reasons why the leave campaign has been so politically divisive. Interviewing Conor allowed me to find out more about the hopes that MP’s have for Britain during and after the process of leaving the European Union. I also felt that this would help diversify the politician’s response, as most of the coverage around Leave supporting Members of Parliament have surrounded on the major players (Boris Johnson, Michael Gove etc.) It helped with my background knowledge on the subject and interestingly enough it gave me an idea of what it was like from a politician’s perspective on the coverage of the media.

I also interviewed another MP, Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel. You can read my reasons for interviewing her as well here.

Key quote –

“I didn’t see it as campaigning to leave the European Union – I saw it as rejoining the rest of the world.”

Interview Profile – Priti Patel MP

Name – Priti Patel.

Role – Secretary of State for International Development and Leave supporter.

Reason for interview – Much like my interview with Conor Burns, I wanted to get as much political background knowledge as I could into this documentary. I was incredibly pleased when Mrs Patel agreed to speak with me via email on the subject of Brexit and the media’s representation of the vote. Given the role as a member of the cabinet, I knew Priti would have a huge role in the direction the country took following the Brexit vote. Being able to use her expertise made my documentary substantially better as it allowed me to compare the opinions of two Leave supporting MP’s and to see whether they were similar in any respect. It gave me a chance to use my editing skills to directly compare the two MP’s answers within my documentary and gave me a much more credible political voice in my final piece.

You can read my profile of fellow MP Conor Burns here.

Key Quote:

“The UK will continue to cooperate with the EU and also increase the scope of our relations outside the EU in order to improve our global economic trade deals. Additionally, once we have left the EU, Parliament will be truly sovereign and free to make laws that are more representative for the people of Britain.”

Interview Profile – Peter Good

Name – Peter Good

Role – Unstereotypical Leave voter

Reason for interview – As I have eluded to many times both in this blog and in the documentary itself, I really wanted to break down the stereotypes of the Leave campaign. I wanted to demonstrate that people from all walks of life campaigned and voted to support the Leave campaign. Although yes more young people or “millennials” as the media seem to have started using as a way to categorise this section of society voted to Leave, it wasn’t everyone. Having studied Arabic Studies at University, living abroad in many countries such as Syria and being multilingual, Peter excellently showed the diversity of Leave supporters.

He helped me to demonstrate that we aren’t all older members of the society who’re vehemently opposed to the diversification of 21st century Britain. He also spoke in his interview about the massive range of reasons people chose to support the Leave campaign and told me his own reasons. None of his reasons had been extensively examined by some sections of the media – having simply ignored these in favour of the immigration issue.

Key Quote –

“There has been this definite accusation that everyone who voted to Leave hates foreigners. That in my case couldn’t be further from the truth! Saying we must be xenophobic and we must be anti-immigration just demonstrates a very narrow minded view on people in the world.”

The Hate Crime Statistics

One area that I did not have time to address in my actual documentary is the alarming growth in hate crimes reported and recorded since the referendum.

Obviously, it sickens me to think that people have hijacked the vote and it’s result to use it for their own ignorant, racist means. As I have discussed many a time on this blog and in my documentary itself – voting to leave the EU does not automatically make you a racist. However, the statistics here do show the rise since the referendum of reported hate crimes.

Now as with any major political decision that causes debate within a society everyone has a voice. No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, you’re allowed your chance to help make a difference within society. That is the foundation of our democracy. As the figures suggest, in the two weeks following the referendum racially motivated hate crime figures rose by 41% to 2241. This is incredibly horrific, no one who lives in the UK should feel persecuted for their cultural, religious or domestic backgrounds. It’s very sad to think that anyone is in a 21st century and incredibly multi-cultural British society this ignorance still remains. If you ask the majority of those who voted to leave they will vehemently agree with what I am saying right here – this isn’t right. I do not know of anyone who voted to leave and agree with the actions of the minority that have done a lot to tarnish the representation of the majority.

Lastly however, I guess I just want to put these figures into perspective. 2241 crimes were reported. Although this number is far too high for a 21st century society – it’s when you put the number together with the volume of those who voted to leave a slightly different picture is formed.When you compare the two, the figure is 0.012%. That means that slightly over 1/10000th of Leave voters engaged in these crimes shortly after the vote. This does not make these crimes any more alarming, nor does it at all suggest those who experienced these crimes shouldn’t feel absolutely disgusted. However, I’m simply urging caution. Don’t automatically assume those of us who voted to leave are racists and confrontational because the percentage I’ve worked out clearly demonstrates this is a minority of an otherwise very important, relevant and I’d hope in time a beneficial political movement.

Raw Interviews

Here are the full interviews I conducted for my project.

Firstly, here’s my interview with leave campaigning MP Conor Burns.

Next, here is my interview with Eagle Radio news editor Anthony Zahra.

Finally, here is my interview with Peter Good – an unstereotypical leave supporter.

Examples of damaging stereotypes

 

As my whole project has circled around, some areas of the media perpetuated lazy stereotypes. I’ve found some examples below, and I’ll suggest the reasons why they’re damaging political debate in this country.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/04/uneducated-people-voted-to-leave-the-eu-suggests-jo-johnson/

The media publicising these kind of quotes I feel is particularly damaging. To come out and offend 17 million people in one statement is damaging enough – but the media then took the chance to publicise this. Now, I understand that the media is allowed to have opinions and allow comments – but  these types of inflammatory statements aren’t going to help political discussion.

https://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2016/jul/05/panorama-on-why-people-voted-brexit-was-a-missed-opportunity

This particularly is a fantastic example of how the mainstream media seemed lazy in their reporting. As this article suggests, the BBC gave Adrian Chiles the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the complexity of Brexit. Whether it was under the BBC’s orders, or due to Mr Chiles’ own opinion, these complexities were disregarded in favour again of making Brexit seem mostly about immigration.

http://bbccomplaints.com/eu-referendum-the-result/

This is another great example of how the BBC went against their own standards during the referendum  coverage. The company who claim their primary purpose is to be impartial and to not cause offence to their audience (section one of their editorial guidelines.) As you can see with these people’s reactions that gave examples of the BBC failing to adhere to their own rules, they struggled to do this on referendum night.

I fully acknowledge in my documentary itself that the Leave campaign featured a number of vitriolic and harmful supporters. However, this may not be the media – but here is a pro-remain MP David Lammy accusing the Leave campaign as being racist. I fully understand some sections of the support had been racist, a very small section, but to categorise the whole campaign is again hugely damaging.

Even before the vote, the BBC set a precedent for it’s future coverage by allowing the debate as to whether supporting Brexit makes you racist. To publicise and debate whether over half your viewers who voted in the referendum are racist, that will have a hugely negative impact on political engagement in this country. Although they do balance the argument, you can’t imagine them having a debate as to whether ‘voting remain means you hate Britain’ or similarly lazy counter stereotypes.

Owen Jones who has a column for The Guardian newspaper also here demonstrates a lazy, stereotypical approach to the Brexit vote. Ignoring the complexity of the divide is apparent as he chooses to use the ‘racist’ card. Of course, some small sections of the vote base have shown abhorrently racist remarks, but that isn’t everyone. But that would be too difficult to work out and wouldn’t fit in with his narrative.

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