Wednesday, 16 October 2013


RT anchor Lindsay Frances reports
on NHS Manchester march from Moscow
CBS anchor Katie Couric in New York 
reporting Libya bombing.

BBC reports on Queen's Jubilee. Month & 24 hour days
 hammering the event home.



This research is not about numbers of viewers but about quality, variety and veracity of information and their profile in the day's news on a number of key international and domestic issues that affect and have affected UK and US directly. 

In term of numbers, the profile of Russia Today has risen exponentially, we believe, but BBC and American channels still have the numbers in their favour in their own countries.

There is no doubt now that Russia Today has become a key player of news and current affairs in the world stage.

As for Arbolioto Twitter, our original profile description "News, opinions and blogs around the world on politics, art, gossip, ideology and humour" is still upheld today, as when it was first created. Our research is part of that too, to understand what surround us.


A novel method of research was used for this project. The researcher used Arbolioto Twitter feed in real time over many months to record the different comments given by pundits, presenters and journalists from all forms of media about different global and domestic events in several countries, principally UK and US.

As Facebook and Twitter started to become prominent in news and comment, social media was added to the method to record the research. This started during the Egypt protests against Hosni Mubarak, which ended with his resignation in 2011.

The very early seeds of this research started shortly after the Iraq War of 2003 -albeit without a given purpose and with a different format. At that time, there were many different opinions about the need for that war, which meant research had to be taken to understand all the positions. 

Unfortunately one sole news channel can never be trusted, particularly not the ones coming from nations involved in a war.

During the subsequent years the researcher analysed mainstream media response to single world events depending on the origin and type of media, being Internet, TV or press.  All comments were recorded on the twitter account @arbolioto. As well as other information related to what was going on at the time around the world. British press and some world press research and coverage of events were also included as reference.

Shortly after the Egypt revolt in Tahrir Square in 2011, Russia Today TV was added to the research principally on the back of the Keiser Report as there appeared to be a huge discrepancy between what mainstream media was reporting about the banking debacle of Wall Street and the City of London, to what Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert were saying on their programme.

The method of research continued to use @arbolioto Twitter in real time to record the main quotes from the many different programmes on TV and press reports. On TV specifically this was done through a hard drive recorder connected to the TV. With this device, several simultaneous news and comment programmes about an event were recorded simultaneously and watched 'a posteriori' only a few minutes later to compare. 

News and comment programmes on Sky News, ITV News, BBC News, ABC News, BBC Newsnight and Russia Today News were recorded and analysed. Quotes were posted on Twitter.

Over time, a pattern was discovered, that as a matter of course, TV in the United Kingdom  and the United States were consistently mis-reporting, un-reporting or under-reporting certain events considered 'difficult' such as protests against the banking system, the protests against against austerity, the several wars and bombing campaigns, the torture, quantitative easing, bombing of Libya, and others. This was then compared to 'easy' programmes like a royal wedding, Barack Obama dinner at Buckingham Palace, for example, which was covered extensively by US and UK television.

The events following the setting up of the Occupy camps in 2011 (@OccupyWallSt and @OccupyLSX), the bombing of Libya and the London summer riots of August 2011 were used as benchmarks for study, as they were very controversial and many media outlets found them difficult to report. News and comment from various sources were recorded and analysed, including ABC, BBC, SKY and Russia Today news. During some events, tweets from reliable eye witnesses on the scene were compared with media dispatches.

Many other news stories were analysed individually using the same method of hard drive recording. In particular, the royal wedding, the jubilee, the Olympics, the Egypt coup d'etat, the cases of Bradley Manning, John Kiriakou, Julian Assange and TV coverage of the Guardian articles on Edward Snowden and US dirty war in Baghdad were studied as well as BBC comments on the US-UK 'Special Relationship' and the recent Russia Today programme on 'American Exceptionalism' were also investigated. 

Output of WikiLeaks, Salon, Democracy Now, YourAnonNews, Occupy Wall St, Occupy LA and Occupy London were also researched and compared to mainstream media coverage of events and issues.

For many months output from BBC current affairs TV programmes such as Daily Politics, BBCNewsnight,  BBC Question Time, BBC daytime and night time news were monitored, recorded and analysed. Same thing with BBC correspondents such as financial correspondent Stephanie Flanders and Robert Peston, but also royal correspondents, political correspondents, etc were compared to their countersparts in Russia Today, ITV, ABC, Channel Four and others. Real time quotes and analysis can be found on the Twitter timeline.

A photographer covered the 'word on the street' in many UK legal and peaceful demonstrations and protests, including March Against Monsanto, Occupy London Stock Exchange, Occupy Los Angeles, NHS Block The Bridge, Frack_Off, CND and Stop The War Coalition, UKuncut Bedroom Tax,  to name but a few. These can be seen on this Arbolioto Blog.  A photographer also photographed the TV screen on many occasions and press reports. The ones included here are only some of them.

In short, a massive research programme which could only be done step by step without a clear indication of the final result. The findings of this research on Russia Today, the BBC and other news outlets is only the first instalment of the study as more findings and associations can be gleaned from the work.

A variety of documentaries were also recorded and studied, some shown on BBC and Channel Four and compared to ones of the same or similar events, showed by Russia Today. Comments on these documentaries and programmes were also tweeted on @arbolioto Twitter.

Quotes, photos, analysis and comments from all these programmes and events can be read in the @arbolioto Twitter real timeline of the last three years. But it will take you a long time to go through it all as it includes nearly 60,000 tweets.  In our case, Twitter allows the owner of the address to download the entire Twitter timeline feed into one file, so it is easier to go through it and study in a computer with any simple find engine.

 In all, it has been a fascinating experience. There's more to come in the next few months.

ITV weathergirl Lucy Verasamy